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DDCB: 1998 Fall Newsleter

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Message from the Chair

John P. Wourms

Amongst the pleasures and chores that coincide with the beginning of the academic year, there is the need to compose the chair's message. This is my last one, for chair-elect Scott Gilbert will be taking over at the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver (Jan. 6-10). My duties have been made much easier by the hard work and dedication our program officer, Billie Swalla and our secretary, Charles Ellis. Many thanks to both of you! The challenge of the future is to insure the continued viability of our division. In this respect, one can phrase the following question: How do we bring a distinctive integrative and comparative approach to the study of developmental and cell biology?

By now, the abstracts have long since been submitted and preparations should be well underway for the meeting. I urge all members within 500 miles of Denver to attend with their graduate and advanced undergraduate students. It is imperative that we involve more students in the meeting. Denver is a truly fine site. In addition, there will be a meeting of the Julia B. Platt Club just prior to the Annual Meeting. The club provides a forum for those interested in evolutionary morphology and development.

An outstanding program has been prepared for the Annual Meeting. Our division is cosponsoring a symposium titled "Evolutionary Origin of Feathers." In addition, there are at least five symposia that should be of interest to cell and developmental biologists: "Endocrine Disrupting Contaminants: From Gene to Ecosystems," "Organismal, Ecological and Evolutionary Significance of Heat Shock Proteins and the Heat Shock Response," "Evolution of Starfishes: Morphology, Molecules, Development and Paleobiology," "Function and Evolution of the Vertebrate Axis," and "Comparative Vertebrate Reproduction: Neuroendocrinology, Behavior and Life History Aspects." There will be a number of contributed paper sessions sponsored by our division and also several interdivisional sessions, one of which is "Reproduction and Life Cycles." The SICB Annual Meeting provides an unique opportunity for individuals interested in cell developmental biology not only to exchange ideas with colleagues in their own field, but also to be enriched by dialogue with colleagues from other fields. It is through the latter aspect that the integrative and comparative approach can be attained.

Please plan to attend the annual business meeting of the division. As I noted in the Spring 1998 newsletter, attendance at the last meeting was poor. Participation of the membership in the affairs of the division is essential for its continued well-being. Established members should look upon their participation as an investment in the next generation of scholars and a debt of honor to their own mentors. Those members just embarking on their careers will find participation a means of becoming acquainted with a broad circle of colleagues. A major item of business will be the search for candidates for the position of program officer. Billie Swalla had accepted our request to remain in office for an additional year. It is rather obvious that the position of program officer is of considerable importance. The program officer plays a vital role in organizing symposia, workshops and refresher courses and in planning our contributed paper and interdivisional sessions.

Next year's Annual Meeting will be in Atlanta, Jan. 4-8, 2000. Atlanta is readily accessible by plane, train and auto, so plan to be there. It is not too early to begin organizing a symposium, workshop or refresher course for the Atlanta meeting. We have members whose research would form the basis of symposia or workshops that would be of considerable interest to our participating members. I encourage interested parties to contact Billie Swalla, who can advise on organization and planning and help with the details of funding any formal divisional program. Although organizing a symposium is hard work, it is also very rewarding. The fields of developmental and cell biology are in a state of flux. Much is happening. Share your excitement and insights by organizing a symposium or workshop.

Message from the Secretary

Charles H. Ellis, Jr.

The only news to report regarding divisional business is that the results of the election for secretary came in from the SICB Business Office, and I was elected to continue in this position for the next three years.

Last year I was astonished at the small number of ballots cast in the contested election for chair-elect, and this year I found it ironic that an uncontested election actually had a slightly higher turnout. As an optimist, I can hope that this is a sign of increased interest in DDCB affairs rather than a random artifact of small sample sizes.

As John Wourms points out in his message, Billie Swalla is continuing for one last year as program officer. In the spring, we will hold the election for her successor. It is not too early for members to begin thinking about nominations, or volunteering to be nominated for this most important position. While Scott Gilbert, our incoming chair, will not be appointing a Nominating Committee until the meeting in January, you should feel free to communicate nominations or personal interest for the position to Scott or me. The strength of our program offerings is in the balance. The program officer is also one of the few who has a voice in trying to minimize schedule conflicts between sessions at the Annual Meeting. Please help us find someone who can follow Billie's excellent example.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver (Jan. 6-10). In the meantime, I would welcome any news items for the Spring 1999 newsletter or suggestions for ways in which our communication can be made more valuable.

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