Division of Animal Behavior: Spring 2020 Newsletter

Please vote in the Spring 2020 Elections (candidate biographies can be found below). The deadline is April 19th, and the ballot can be found in the link provided here.  http://burkclients.com/sicb/elections/2020.php

Best Student Presentation Competition 

Zuk Finalists and DAB Officers
Zuk Finalists and DAB Officers

Thank you to all of the students who participated in our 2020 Marlene Zuk and Elizabeth Adkins-Regan competitions! With 67 student competitors and 57 judges across our Zuk and Adkins-Regan competitions, much of our division was involved in these competitions, and we are very proud of this high level of participation. We had a fantastic Marlene Zuk Best Student Presentation Session, with seven finalists giving excellent oral presentations to a packed room, as well as an impressive 50 students competing for the Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award for Best Student Poster. 

The Marlene Zuk Award for best oral presentation went to Kayla Goforth for her talk titled “The role of magnetic field detection in foraging site fidelity of sea turtles.” Kayla is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in Dr. Kenneth Lohmann’s lab. She studies how marine migrants navigate using Earth’s magnetic field. Specifically, her research focuses on how sea turtles learn and memorize the locations of foraging sites, and develop strong ties to those locations. In the research Kayla presented at SICB, young sea turtles were classically conditioned to a specific magnetic field and these turtles learned their conditioned magnetic field was associated with food.

The Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award went to Angela Riley, for her poster “Paternal removal leads to changes in learning ability and sociality in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) offspring”. Angela is a PhD student in Dr. Jennifer Grindstaff’s lab at Oklahoma State University. She studies the effect of removing the father during the early post-hatching life in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), a biparental species in which both mothers and fathers contribute to offspring care. A  number of studies examine the effects of maternal removal on offspring development in mammals and birds, but very little is known about the impact of paternal removal, despite ~80% of all bird species having some extent of biparental care. In this study, Angela found that birds who experienced paternal removal during the fledgling period were more aggressive than both control birds and birds that experienced paternal removal during their entire nestling and fledgling periods. There was also a trend towards an effect of paternal removal on offspring learning ability.

This year, in addition to the Marlene Zuk and Elizabeth Adkins-Regan awards, judges awarded a Adrian M. Werner Award for Strong Inference to Yusan Yang for her talk titled “Male contest limits assortative female preference in a color polymorphic poison frog.” Yusan is a Ph.D. student in the Richards-Zawacki lab at the University of Pittsburgh, where she studies sexual selection of the color polymorphic strawberry poison dart frog (Oophaga pumilio). Her research integrates field, laboratory, and mathematical approaches to examine the mechanisms that shape divergent sexual behaviors, and the evolutionary and ecological consequences of such divergence. 

Many congratulations to our three winners, and a big thank you to all of the judges who helped evaluate the student talks and posters!

Message from the Chair, Kendra Sewall, Chair.DAB@sicb.org

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” —Winston Churchill

A huge thank you to everyone who volunteered to help with poster judging, moderating sessions, and the mentorship program at our annual meeting in Austin! If you value collaboration, student support, and collegiality, volunteering is a fantastic way to make a positive impact. We welcome ideas for new initiatives and contributions from any and all members – please consider one of the following ways to volunteer! 

Opportunities for Leadership: 

  • Organizing symposia: Because we are so integrative, our division supports a lot of symposia. However, we have few symposia that are focused on behavior. If you have ideas for a symposium for the 2022 meeting in Phoenix, AZ, that would focus on behavior please contact Kathleen Lynch! Organizing a symposium can be a great way to highlight your work and all symposium papers are published in Integrative and Comparative Biology. Postdocs should definitely consider this opportunity!
  • Meeting participation: Please consider moderating a session during our next meeting in 2021 and attending the business meeting (really a members meeting). 
  • Student mentoring program: At the 2020 meeting we piloted a student mentoring program that and over 61 people participated. We plan to run the program again for the 2021 meeting with assistance from Dr. Rindy Anderson, who will serve as our Mentoring Coordinator. If you have ideas for improving the mentoring program or want to help organize please contact Kendra or Rindy.

Opportunities for students:

  • Student talk and poster awards: When the 2021 meeting rolls around please do participate in DAB events like the social and the business meeting. These events are not just for faculty! And they are a wonderful opportunity to meet future mentors. Additionally our student talk and poster awards are great opportunities for students to have their work highlighted – please  sign up for the Marlene Zuk Best Student Oral Presentation or Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award for Best Student Poster. These sessions highlight the best work our students are doing so they are about a lot more than just the competition. Please attend these events to support your fellow student DAB members.
  • Support for students and post-docs: SICB has a great history of supporting students and post-docs but meetings are expensive and networking is tough. We will continue to include a networking session in our business meetings but are looking for new ideas. If you have suggestions for workshops, group meals, or other events that we can support as a division please contact Kendra!

Message from the Program Officer, Kathleen Lynch, DPO.DAB@sicb.org

Welcome to my first newsletter as the new Program Officer for DAB. First, I want to thank all presenters, attendees and volunteers that made this year’s SICB meeting a great success. It was a fantastic line-up of talks and Austin, once again, proved to be an amazing place for the SICB conference. We had a nice blend of science and we had lots of fun in downtown Austin. DAB had many submissions for the student presentation competition this year. All the student talks were phenomenal. The out-going program officer, Scott McDougall-Shackleton, reported that the number of symposiums proposal submissions this year neared an all-time high. So, let’s keep that going! One way to do that is to start thinking now about your symposium ideas for our 2022 meeting and all future meetings. Proposals are due in the summer but it’s not too soon to contact me with your ideas or if you have any questions about organizing a symposium. DAB would like to continue co-sponsoring symposia that bridge fields of research and symposia that reflect the integrative qualities of our animal behavior studies.  I am happy to help potential organizers navigate the duties of an organizer and offer ideas to look for financial support. If you have a great idea for a symposium proposal but don’t want to organize it, please go ahead and contact me with the idea so we can work on making it happen. Thanks again to all presenters and attendees. Hope to see you at next year’s meeting!

Thank you to outgoing DAB Program Officer Scott MacDougall-Shackleton

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Scott MacDougall-Shackleton, our exiting DAB Program Officer, for his years of service and hard work for our division. He did an excellent job. In particular, we appreciate his constant efforts to increase the numbers of high quality symposia proposals from DAB members, and his efforts to coordinate our many talks and posters into well-themed and thought provoking sessions at our annual meetings. Many, many thanks Scott!

Message from the Secretary, Erica Westerman, Secretary.DAB@sicb.org

Abundant “thank yous” to the poster judges who volunteered their time to engage and give feedback to the student contestants in the Adkins-Regan competition. Many of you gave thoughtful feedback, which I am in the process of passing on to the student participants. And for student participants who would like to receive feedback but have not yet received an e-mail from me, it is not too late! Please send me an e-mail at either Secretary.DAB@sicb.org, or ewesterm@uark.edu, and I will send you the judge’s comments. 

In response to feedback and in an effort to increase transparency for the BSP competitions, I will be posting the DAB Adkins-Regan judging form on the DAB website this fall, so please check out the website if you would like to preview the judging form as you prepare your poster. 

Our division has an ever-increasing presence on social media, and we have both twitter (@SCIB_DAB) and facebook (SICB Division of Animal Behavior) presence. If you are interested in getting involved with managing the DAB social media presence, please contact Kendra, Kathleen, or I. You also have the opportunity to participate in SICB’s online Researchers Database. If you would like to have your information included in the database, please send me a word document or PDF with your name, a brief description of your work, and a high-resolution .jpg photograph to Secretary.DAB@sicb.org.

In the spirit of the connection between DAB and the Animal Behavior Society, I remind our members that the ABS annual meeting is in Knoxville, Tennessee this year, from July 30-August 3rd. DAB is often well represented, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Tennessee this Summer! 

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Sydney Hope

We had a great meeting in Austin this year! SPDAC held a “Transitions in Science” workshop, which had a great turnout. Students and postdocs were able to meet with experts from different careers (academia, non-profit, government, etc.) and have a round-table discussion centered around major transitions in science (e.g., undergraduate to graduate student, PhD to postdoc, academia, or other career paths). SPDAC also ran a booth in the Exhibitor’s Hall, where we handed out helpful “How-To” brochures (e.g., science communication, research and teaching statement design, creating a symposium proposal, getting a post-doc, etc.). Lastly, DAB pioneered its first mentor/mentee matching program, and we had participation from 29 mentors and 33 mentees! Now, we’re already starting to plan to next year’s meeting in Washington DC. 

We received a lot of positive feedback for the activities that we held in Austin (workshop, booth, mentoring program), and so we are planning to hold similar activities in Washington DC, but fine-tune them. First, we will hold another round-table discussion workshop, but with the theme “Transferrable skills in academia and non-academia”. We would like take advantage of the meeting venue to invite a broad range of experts working in government, policy, non-profits, museums, etc. Next, we will have another “How-To” booth in the Exhibitor’s Hall, but we will be adding more brochures, some of which were suggested to us in Austin (e.g., how to write a diversity statement). Lastly, we will organize another DAB mentor/mentee matching program. For those that participated this year, please give us your feedback so that we can improve! If you have any suggestions to improve any of the above items, if you would like to help organize the mentor/mentee program, or if you have any other ideas of how to improve our meetings for students and post-docs, please email me (sydney.hope@gmail.com).

SICB Student and Postdoc Funding Opportunities

While the deadlines for SICB awards may seem light-years away, it is never too soon to put these important dates on your calendar! The Broadening Participation travel award (funds to attend the 2021 SICB meeting), Charlotte Magnum Student Support Program (funds to attend the 2021 SICB meeting), and GIAR/FGST (funds to support student research, including the Grants in Aid of Research and Graduate Student Travel awards) will be due on or around Oct 17th, 2020. The Dorothy M. Skinner Award (funds for female scientists (often postdocs) to attend the 2021 SICB meeting) is also due around Oct 17, 2020. These are wonderful funding opportunities to help defray the cost of attending the SICB meeting, or the cost of student research.

Other summer and fall deadlines include: the Society for Neuroscience Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience, applications due May 22th, 2020, details can be found at: https://www.sfn.org/Careers/Awards/Early-Career/Donald-B-Lindsley-Prize-in-Behavioral-Neuroscience And, the Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research applications are due October 1st, details can be found here: https://sigmaxi.fluidreview.com/res/p/guidelines/.

For graduate students wrapping up their degrees, or brand-new postdocs, the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Research Fellowship application is due Monday July 1st, 2020. Applicants must be within 12 months of their graduation to apply. Details can be found at: http://hhwf.org/research-fellowship/application/.The NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowship application has three submission deadlines a year, and the summer deadline is August 8th, 2020. Details can be found here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-18-670.html. While the NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology applications are due in early November each year. There is a new Rules of Life track that may be particularly relevant to DAB members. Details can be found here: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503622&org=NSF.

DAB Secretary Candidate Biographies

(Ballot: http://burkclients.com/sicb/elections/2020.php)

Lara LaDage 

Lara LaDage
Lara LaDage

Current position: Associate Professor of Biology, Penn State Altoona, Altoona, PA

Education: B.S. Biology, Western Illinois University (1999); Ph.D. Biology, University of Memphis (2007)

Professional Experience: Postdoctoral Researcher, Biology, University of Nevada, Reno (2007-2009); Research Scientist, University of Nevada, Reno (2009-2013); Assistant Professor, Penn State Altoona (2013-2019); Undergraduate Research Faculty Fellow, Penn State University (2019-present).

SICB Activities: Meeting participant (2007-present); Session chair; Symposium participant (2015, 2020).

Other Memberships: Animal Behavior Society

Research Interests: Spatial processing and spatial memory have ramifications on territorial behavior, mate choice, navigation, food acquisition, and many other ecologically relevant behaviors. Further, differential demands on spatial processing affect brain regions differently. Much of my research focuses on the evolution of spatial processing and the hippocampus, an area of the brain heavily involved in spatially based behaviors.

Goals Statement: Throughout my professional career, SICB has been the society where my research fit, where I could engage with colleagues and collaborators, and served as a platform for dissemination via symposia. These experiences form the foundation for my goals as DAB Secretary and my motivation to give back to the society. While the position necessitates maintaining records, the researcher database, and communication via the DAB newsletter and the website, I will also collaborate with DAB officers to continue to support and encourage collaboration, both horizontally across disciplines and vertically across researchers at different stages of their careers. Because my home institution is a primarily undergraduate institution with an economically disadvantaged service area, I also have a keen sensitivity for the barriers faced by underrepresented individuals in STEM. To complement SICB’s current programs, I will continue to advocate for equity with new endeavors that support traditionally underrepresented groups, with an eye on keeping our meetings accessible to all undergraduates in order to enculturate our future SICB members.

Allison Welch

Allison Welch
Allison Welch

Current Position: Associate Professor of Biology and Director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies minor, College of Charleston 

Education: B.S., Biology, Truman State University, 1993; Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Missouri–Columbia, 2000

Professional Experience: Postdoctoral Fellow, Biology, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (2000-2005); Postdoctoral Fellow, Biological Sciences, University of Missouri–Columbia (2005-2007); Research Associate/Adjunct Faculty, Biology, College of Charleston (2005-2007); Visiting Assistant Professor, Biology, College of Charleston (2008); Assistant Professor, Biology, College of Charleston (2008-2015); Associate Professor, Biology, College of Charleston (2015-present); Director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies minor (2016-present). 

SICB Activities: DAB Divisional Program Officer, 2010-2016; SICB Student Support Committee, 2007-2009; SICB Nominating Committee, 2009; Meeting participant, 2000-present (17 of the past 20 years); DAB student presentation judge (posters and talks) several times; Symposium speaker (2019)

Other Memberships: American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Herpetologists’ League

Research Interests: Behavioral and evolutionary ecology of amphibians; effects of environmental stressors on behavior, reproduction, and early life history stages; genetic variation in behavior and life history traits

Goals Statement: Serving SICB and the Division of Animal Behavior previously as DAB Divisional Program Officer has been a privilege and pleasure, and I would be honored to serve as DAB Secretary. As Secretary, my two primary goals would be to promote community within DAB and to support our students, post-docs, and early-career scientists.  Through newsletters and other avenues of communication, I would seek not only to highlight DAB activities but also to build a sense of connection, cohesion, and inclusion within DAB. I believe a key function of the secretary and other executives is to provide a welcoming environment for all DAB members, including working to promote diversity and inclusivity in the division.  The Best Student Presentation competitions are an important way to support students and highlight their accomplishments, and I would enjoy facilitating well-organized competitions. I am also interested in continuing to expand mentorship activities as a way to support our students and early-career members and to foster community and inclusion within DAB. Finally, by highlighting DAB’s successes and building community within the division, I look forward to promoting integrative animal behavior as a focal point within SICB.