SICB 1997 Fall Newsletter
Fall Newsletters by Division
Message from the President,
Alan J. Kohn
As the autumnal equinox signals the last quarter of 1997, our society continues to
advance on a number of fronts. Plans for an exceptional Annual Meeting, January 3-7, 1998
in Boston, are in place, and registration packets have been mailed. The Boston meeting
will be larger than those of the past several years and will feature several innovations.
More societies are meeting with us for the first time, including the Ecological Society of
America, International Society for Reef Studies and the new Julia B. Platt Club, an
interdisciplinary forum for evolutionary morphology and development. In addition our
regular affiliated societies, the Animal Behavior Society, American Microscopical Society,
and The Crustacean Society, will be joining us. For more information on these
co-sponsoring societies, see pages 12-13.
Abstracts for papers and posters submitted number 730, a 42 percent increase from last
year! We'll have nine symposia, plus the innovative late-breaking symposium titled,
"Innovations in Evolutionary Biology," featuring Stephen Jay Gould and Lynn
Another major event at the Boston meeting will be the launching of Integrative Biology:
Issues, News, and Reviews. This journal will be published by John Wiley & Sons as an
official SICB publication starting in January, 1998, and will be free to all SICB members
for at least its first two years of publication.
In its inaugural year, our Grants-in-Aid of Research program made awards totaling
$5,000 to seven highly deserving graduate student members of four SICB divisions. (They
are listed in the spring 1997 newsletter.) Although our Grants-in-Aid endowment is growing
rather slowly, interest gained this year should permit us to increase the amount awarded,
I hope by as much as 20 percent. The Student Support Committee chaired by Malcolm Gordon
will meet in Boston to select the 1998 awardees. In order to continue this momentum and
increase support of the research of our student members, I encourage you to send a
contribution to the SICB Grants-in-Aid of Research endowment (a donation form is included
with this newsletter).
Facilitated by the ease of meetings via the internet, in late spring the Executive
Committee discussed and approved two major initiatives. SICB has begun a program of
interaction with our professional counterpart in Cuba, the Cuban Zoological Society (CZS).
Since 1989, more than 200 U.S. and Cuban zoologists have been involved in what is probably
the most active area of cultural exchange between our two countries. This collaboration
has been possible because the regulations of the U.S. embargo include provisions to
encourage the free flow of information as well as scientific research. http://188.8.131.52/yr1996/apr/cuba_960415.html
(see also The Scientist,10(8), Apr 1996).
Initially, the collaboration focused on biodiversity, and it included biological
inventories inside Cuba by U.S. systematists and reciprocal visits by Cuban systematists
to U.S. research collections where most of the world's specimens of Cuban origin are
located. Leading institutions in U.S.-Cuban collaborative research projects include the
New York Botanical Garden, American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution and
Center for Marine Conservation. An article describing the collaborative activity is
available on the Internet at
Thanks to the efforts of Michael Smith and a license granted by the U.S. Department of
Treasury, SICB members are now permitted to become regular individual members of CZS. The
cost of membership is a one-time fee of $5 and annual dues of $10. I hope that many SICB
members will join CZS. Even if your research interests do not involve the neotropics or
Cuban colleagues, the modest dues make it possible for us to support hard-pressed
scientists in that country and to enhance the interchange of ideas and information with
colleagues. (Ten dollars is more than the monthly salary of a scientist in Cuba, and thus
will go far toward the support of biological science there.) For more information on how
to join CSZ, see the sidebar on this page.
Secondly, the Executive Committee addressed the question: In addition to our affiliated
societies and other co-sponsors, what societies should we invite to join us in Denver in
January, 1999? When ASZ met in the west, we traditionally invited the Western Society of
Naturalists (WSN) to meet with us, and this has been a very successful, mutually
stimulating arrangement. WSN traditionally meets in early January, and we have invited
them to join us at the 1999 meeting. In addition, we have re-extended the invitation to
the Ecological Society of America (ESA) to meet with us again, and we have invited the new
International Symbiosis Society. We have also invited the three societies that, in recent
years, have joined in the very successful evolution meetings in June: Society of
Systematic Biologists, Society for the Study of Evolution and American Society of
Many SICB members also belong to one or more of these societies. In part because of the
overlap of interests with SICB and in part because many of their members commit to field
work in the summer, one or more of these groups may find meeting with us in January
attractive, as has ESA. To date, we have not received any definitive responses to these
Plans for the two Annual Meetings following Denver are also finalized. Following our
policy of meeting in a different geographic region each year, the site in 2000 will be
Atlanta, January 4-8, and in 2001 we will meet in Chicago, January 3-7. We are beginning
to plan for January, 2002, probably in southern California.
Also during the summer, the Conservation Committee under the active leadership of Fraser
Shilling completed a strong letter in support of strengthening the Endangered Species Act
should this be brought for re-authorization consideration in Congress. The final version
of the letter, a draft of which appeared in the spring newsletter, is being circulated to
obtain signatories from other societies as well.
On a more mundane matter, this summer SICB made a major investment in new software and
associated staff training to improve the processing of abstracts and creation of the
Annual Meeting program. While the advantages to members of such activities may seem
obscure, we will all benefit from the more expeditious processing, and I am especially
pleased that this particularly reduces the clerical responsibilities of our overworked
program officer, Willy Bemis.
Finally, SICB membership continues to be a major source of concern. Although the
decline in numbers has been nearly stanched, all of us need to exert strong efforts toward
attracting new members and increasing our numbers. As past president Michael Hadfield
stated in last fall's newsletter, "Our decreased ranks threaten the very existence of
the society. Membership numbers determine the strength of our 'voice,' when we speak on
matters of national and international importance to biological scientists. They affect the
cost of belonging to SICB. They impact the cost of our meetings, because only increased
participation by paying attendees can the costs to all members decrease."
Specifically, membership stood at 2,119 at the end of 1996, and 2,095 as of the end of
August, 1997. If each of us could convince a single colleague to become a member, this
problem would be immediately solved!
Message from the Program Officer,
SICB 1998 Annual Meeting Highlights
As the name of our society indicates, our purpose is to integrate and compare the
research findings in the fields of evolutionary biology, ecology, physiology and other
biological sciences. At the SICB 1998 Annual Meeting in Boston, Jan. 3-7, we will have an
opportunity to do just that. This year's meeting offers symposia and workshops covering
the wide range of interests of our members and co-sponsors. Let me tell you a bit about
Highlighting the meeting, we have a fantastic line-up of 10 symposia, including the
late-breaking symposium "Innovations in Evolutionary Biology" featuring Stephen
Jay Gould and Lynn Margulis. We were thrilled to receive approximately 730 abstracts in
August. This is a 42 percent increase over the 514 abstracts that we received for last
year's meeting in Albuquerque. In addition, we have received approximately 290 abstracts
over the Web this year, which is an increase of 80 percent over the 167 abstracts we
received last year over the Web. For more details on the symposia, see the next page.
In addition to the ten pre-arranged symposia, SICB is continuing its program of
interdivisional sessions to foster new links in biology. This year, four interdivisional
sessions will be held: "Locomotion and Movement;" "Feeding and
Foraging;" "Reproduction and Life History;" and "Education."
New developments for teaching comparative biology will be explored in a new workshop
series, the first entitled "Comparative Biology in the Classroom." This half-day
workshop will expose participants to some examples of the new ways to provide experience
and transmit the information technology provides.
For the Boston meeting, we are proud to have six co-sponsors participate. They include
the Animal Behavior Society, American Microscopical Society, Ecological Society of
America, Julia B. Platt Club, International Society for Reef Studies and The Crustacean
Society. We look forward to enhancing our relationships with these societies.
The Julia B. Platt Club, a new group, will meet on January 2, one day prior to the SICB
Annual Meeting, to provide a new international forum for evolutionary morphology and
development. The International Society for Reef Studies will meet the day following the
SICB Annual Meeting on January 8.
Send in your registration form today to sign up for this inspiring meeting. See you in
Willy's Top Ten Reasons to Join SICB at the 1998 Annual Meeting
- Ten fantastic symposia and hundreds of contributed papers.
- Learn about "Innovations in Evolutionary Biology," a late-breaking symposium
featuring Stephen Jay Gould and Lynn Margulis.
- Check out our newly expanded exhibit floor.
- Four topical interdivisional sessions.
- Visit the New England Aquarium, Museum of Comparative Zoology, and Boston Museum of
- Meet the future of biology at our consistently student-friendly Annual Meeting.
- The Ecological Society of America and the International Society for Reef Studies join
the Annual Meeting.
- Enjoy New England's regional delicacies and Boston's international cuisine.
- Find updated job advertisements and research opportunities.
- Make new friends and colleagues in a wonderful meeting environment.
Remember: You'll never find a more totally committed or
fun group of scientists.
Message from the Secretary,
Thomas G. Wolcott
As Polonius said before Hamlet stabbed him right through the arras, "Brevity is
the soul of wit..." and, having little, I shall be very.
Guidance on how to present effective posters and talks was a need perceived at the
Albuquerque meeting, for both new and old hands. Lacking the succinctness of Moses, who
descended Sinai to tell the errant Israelites, "Take these two tablets and call me in
the morning...," I've penned more extensive expositions based on lessons drawn from
many stultifying experiences. These are provided in this newsletter on pages 10-11 as
(partial) lists of "mortal sins," or sure-fire ways to flop in either format.
Summer field station opportunities, especially for the benefit of undergraduates who
could see organisms in their normal settings rather than in plant presses or pickle
bottles, were to be the subject of a Web page ready for spring applicants. In last
spring's SICB Newsletter I asked field stations to send us their addresses, Web sites,
offerings and so forth. Harbor Branch did (bravo, Susan Cook!). Their Web site is http://www.hboi.edu, or phone 800/333-HBOI. Other field
stations desiring exposure need to get us info, pronto!
I look forward to seeing many of you in Bahston, where I will be gathering grist
(compromising pictures, outrageous out-of-context quotes) for the next edition of this
Message from the Treasurer,
Mary Beth Saffo
Judging from my recent e-mail, there are still a few members who do not understand
our policy regarding meeting registration fee waivers for symposium speakers. I will once
again summarize that policy.
SICB will waive registration fees for all symposium speakers, provided that the
symposium organizers have applied for outside funding. Note that we only require that
organizers apply for, not necessarily receive, outside funding. Note also that any outside
funding qualifies: we encourage you to consider not just NSF and NIH as potential sources
of symposium funds, but also other government agencies, private foundations and even your
own universities. Our registration waiver policy is summarized in our information sheet
for SICB symposium organizers. I also ask division chairs and divisional program officers
to remind prospective symposium organizers of this policy, to minimize (or, dare I hope,
eliminate?) chances for any future misunderstanding.
We are currently in good shape financially, with a current projected net 1997 income
that is slightly greater than expected. This surplus is due largely to efficient
management of expenses rather than to increased revenues. In fact, our expected revenues
are currently lower than our budget forecast.
Our total membership renewals have fallen short of budget; as of this date, membership
is still declining. There has also been a decrease in American Zoologist subscription
renewals and video and merchandise revenue has been minimal this year. To stem these
trends, we plan to revitalize our Membership Committee in 1998 and hope to implement a new
marketing plan aimed at increasing membership growth and at maximizing American Zoologist
renewals. Membership and subscription growth must be a priority of the society in 1998.
The SICB Business Office has worked diligently to reduce their administrative expenses,
which are currently four percent under budget. Our expenses have also been reduced by
lower than anticipated printing expenses. Luckily, these expense savings are substantial
enough to offset our declining revenues.
As always, the success of our Annual Meeting a potentially significant revenue
source and also a major expense will affect our year-end financial picture.
We look forward to the realization of several new ventures in 1998, including the debut
of Integrative Biology: Issues, News, and Reviews and the publication of our new career
brochure. Projects such as these promise not only to enhance our bottom line, but also
will contribute to the continuing expansion and renewal of the society.