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Division of Neurobiology (DNB): 2002 Spring Newsletter

In this newsletter:

Message from the Chair

Don Edwards

I would like to begin by thanking Robin Cooper and Rich Satterlie for outstanding service to the Society and the Division. Robin has been on the mark in organizing elections and in keeping me abreast of deadlines. Rich has put together an outstanding Symposium series that has greatly impressed the SICB administration, and which, with our help, should help the Division to grow significantly. He is due a round of congratulations.

Second, I wish to congratulate Rich and Hank Trapido-Rosenthal for their election as Program Officer and Secretary of the Division, respectively. Rich's services will be invaluable in making certain that the series of Symposia that he has organized are successful. And Hank's energy and organizational abilities will stand us in good stead in building the membership.

Finally, I have been in communication with Ed Kravitz, the newly elected President of the International Society for Neuroethology (ISN), about how our organizations might interact to our mutual benefit. As you may know, ISN holds meetings every 3 years; the last was last summer in Bonn, Germany. Given the significant overlap in interests between DNB and ISN, it has seemed reasonable to discuss those interests, particularly in regard to how DNB might serve them in the out-years of ISN meetings. We will have these discussions during the East Coast Nerve Net meetingat the MBL in Woods Hole this Spring; I would appreciate any suggestions you may have that I could present to Ed. In the meantime, please consider the following and tell me what you think:
  1. Opportunities for jointly sponsored symposia at SICB
  2. Opportunities for jointly sponsored symposia at ISN
  3. An opportunity to conduct an ISN business meeting at SICB
  4. Cross-linked web sites.
Finally, if you have colleagues who are members of the ISN or the JB Johnson Society, but who are not members of ISN, please discuss with them how what we might do together, and encourage them to join SICB! Let me know what you think (biodhe@langate.gsu.edu).

UPDATE: I met with Ed Kravitz, President of the ISN, and we have agreed to form a Working Committee of officers of the DNB, the ISN, and related societies (e.g., J.B. Johnston Society) to discuss opportunities for cooperation and collaboration. Once again, please provide any suggestions directly to me at biodhe@langate.gsu.edu.

Message from the Program Officer, Robin L. Cooper and the Secretary, Hank Trapido-Rosenthal

Program Officer Dr. Rich Satterlie reports on the development of two DNB-sponsored symposia for the upcoming Toronto meeting. The first, entitled "Recent Developments in Neurobiology" will honour Dr. Harold Atwood, and will feature a series of presentations on motor control. The second symposium, being organized by Jonathon Copeland, is entitled, "Firefly Flash Communication: Physiology and Behavior at Fifty."

The DNB Poster Awards Committee, under the chairmanship of secretary emeritus Dr. Robin Cooper, has chosen the poster entitled "The control of Manduca proleg movements during crawling and grasping", first-authored by Ms. Sheri Mezoff, from Dr. Barry Trimmer's laboratory, as the recipient of the DNB student poster award for the 2002 meeting. Congratulations!

DNB Elections

Candidates for Chair Elect

Robin L. Cooper

Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Kentucky

Education: Double-BS., Chemistry & Zoology, Texas Tech University, 1983; Ph.D., Physiology, Texas Tech Sch. of Med., 1989

Professional Experience: 2001-present Associate Professor; 1996-2001 Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky; 1992-1996 Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. H.L. Atwood, Univ. of Toronto School of Medicine, Dept. of Physiology, Toronto, Canada; 1989-1992 Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. J.G. Nicholls, Univ. of Basel School of Medicine, Dept. of Pharmacology, Biocenter, Basel, Switzerland; 1989 Summer research assistant with Dr. C.K. Govind, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass.

SICB Activities: Member as of 1982. Served as DNB secretary from 2000-2002.

Other Memberships: Society for Neuroscience, American Physiological Society

Research Interests: The research goals of my program are focused on understanding the physiological mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity of neurons, especially motor neurons which make synapses on muscle fibers. My research program is a multifaceted  approach to the study of specific neuromodulatory molecules whose actions are relevant to the whole animal. At a social level, animals show distinct differences in behavior and in responses to sensory cues. For example, among human siblings there may be dominant, outgoing individuals, as well as shy and introverted ones. The focus of much research in this broad area has been on the central nervous system and has recently expanded into studies of the expression of particular genes in the nervous system, in a variety of animal species. The hope is to be able to get a handle on the mechanisms of how neurons are activated or turned off and how they communication with each other can be modulated to elicit particular responses. Such research in higher animals has proven to be a daunting task and many of the breakthroughs in neuroscience have arisen due to understanding of basic principles in simpler systems and then extrapolating to more highly evolved organisms, such as humans. The invertebrate arthropods have long provided key models, especially crayfish and Drosophila (T.H. Huxley, The Crayfish. 1880; T.H. Morgan, 1900) for investigating neurophysiological principles. One advantage of invertebrates is that individual cells can be examined by a range of techniques from anatomical analysis to molecular genetics and electrophysiology, to obtain insights that are not possible, at present,  in higher-animal model systems. In particular, the neuromuscular junctions of crayfish and Drosophila serve as models to investigate the basics principles of chemical synaptic transmission relevant to all chemical synapses in all animals.

Goals Statement: My goal as Chair of DNB would be to continue making DNB an attractive subdivision of SICB, by keeping it healthy and expanding its membership. The contributions of Dr. Don Edwards (the current DNB-Chair) of affiliating DNB with the International Neuroethology Society is an important link that needs to be nurtured as well as links with subdivisions of the Society for Neuroscience. The DNB-SICB offers a lot to students which is not possible at the larger overbearing meetings. My goal is to continue to spread the word about DNB and to work with others in strengthening our ties with members in other Neuro based societies. I also plan to insure that our student members get the high profile required for their competitive survival. By continuing to have excellent symposia, as our current Program Officer Dr. Rich Satterlie has been able to maintain, our student members have good exposure to leaders in the field. I also maintain that DNB needs to continue to have a active component that outreaches to the public schools and attracting future young minds to follow the sciences. We can do this as we have did with the Atlanta meeting by having integration with local Science teachers in the cities we conduct meetings.

Walter Wilczynski

Current Position: Professor, Departments of Psychology and Zoology, University of Texas at Austin

Education: BS, Psychology; BA, Biology, Lehigh University, 1974; PhD, Neurosciences, University of Michigan, 1978

Professional Experience: 1995-Present: Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin (Joint appointment in Department of Zoology); Aug. 1996-Aug. 1997: Program Director for Behavioral Neuroscience, Division of Integrative Biology and Neuroscience, National Science Foundation (Position held while on 1-year leave from the University of Texas); 1989-1995: Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin (Joint appointment in Department of Zoology, 1993 - present); 1983-1989: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin; 1979-1983: Postdoctoral Fellow, Sect. Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University (Sponsor: Dr. Robert R. Capranica; currently retired).

Society Memberships: Society for Neuroscience; J. B. Johnston Club (for Comparative Neurobiology); Society for Comparative and Integrative Biology; American Association for the Advancement of Science; International Society for Neuroethology; Southwest Comparative Psychology Association; American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists; Sigma Xi

Research Interests and Activities: Walter Wilczynski earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Michigan. He was a postdoctoral researcher in the Section of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University from 1979-1983, after which he moved to the University of Texas at Austin as an assistant professor. He is currently a professor there with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology and in the Section of Neurobiology in the School of Biological Sciences, and is a member of the interdepartmental University of Texas Institute for Neuroscience. His research interests center on the neuroethology of animal communication and social behavior. Dr. Wilczynski uses methods in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and behavioral endocrinology to investigate the mutual interactions of neural systems, endocrine systems, and behavior that underlie acoustic communication and mate choice in amphibians, and aggressive behavior in lizards. His research is supported by NSF and NIH. Dr. Wilczynski is a former NSF program officer for Behavioral Neuroscience, a former associated editor for the journal Animal Behaviour, and is currently Editor-in-Chief for the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution.

Link to officer list on DNB page