exciting news from SICB '06 in Orlando is that the Executive
Committee approved the founding of a new division, the Division of
Comparative Biomechanics (DCB). This division will draw together the
traditionally strong areas of vertebrate and invertebrate
biomechanics at SICB, as well as potentially encouraging
participation from biomechanists working on plants, fungi and
microbes. It will give the field of Comparative Biomechanics a
recognizable home, which may help garner corporate and foundation
funding for DCB symposia at SICB.
of the DVM business meeting was spent discussing this important
issue. Some members were concerned that DCB will probably draw
members away from DVM, or at least split their participation between
DCB and DVM. There was some concern a few years ago that the creation
of the Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (DEDB) would
weaken DVM, but the result has been that DEDB has strengthened
evolutionary morphology as a field at SICB. There was a suggestion
that DVM simply be renamed DCB and expanded to include non-vertebrate
subjects. This proposal was criticized on the grounds that morphology
is broader than just biomechanics, and that vertebrate morphology in
particular has a long history and strong philosophical traditions
that should not be lost. On balance the attendees at the business
meeting were supportive of the creation of the new DCB.
related business, Kevin Padian made the excellent suggestion that
vertebrate paleontology talks should be spread among the other
sessions, rather than grouped into their own sessions. The Program
Officer for DVM, Jeff Walker, will implement this recommendation for
the 2007 meeting. The creation of DCB frees DVM to focus on research
areas that have less overlap with biomechanics, and increasing the
participation of vertebrate paleontologists could be an important
part of this. Some of the vert paleo talks at SICB have strong ties
to DCB, but the core business of describing fossil vertebrates and
the comparative anatomical analysis of extinct and extant vertebrates
are areas that could be expanded at SICB and would strengthen DVM as
further important business, David Carrier, Chair of the DVM Student
Prize Committee, brought forward some recommendations from his
committee for changes in the Davis Award rules. The Prize Committee
recommends: (1) that each student be allowed to compete for the D.
Dwight Davis Award only one time; and (2) all of the competing talks
be grouped into one session, and this D. Dwight Davis Award Session
run unopposed by any other DVM sessions or symposia. The rationale
for the latter is that the special award session would showcase the
student work and emphasize the prestige of the Davis Award. Students
would still be permitted to compete for the DVM Poster Prize as many
times as they like, and students would be permitted to petition the
DVM Chair for permission to compete for the Davis Award a second time
with a substantially different project, such as the first time a
Master's project and then later a Ph.D. project. There appeared to be
support at the DVM business meeting for the rule that students be
allowed to compete only once, with possible dispensation for twice.
Concern was expressed, however, about the possibility that the D.
Dwight Davis Award Session might be perceived as a "kiddie
table" which is less prestigious than the regular sessions.
each student to competing just once for the Davis Award, with
possible dispensation for twice, requires a DVM bylaws change.
Creating a Davis Award Session requires only an instruction from the
DVM membership to the DVM Program Officer to make it so. Electronic
voting on the bylaw change will occur this spring and the membership
will be polled at the same time to assess support for a 2-year trial
of the Davis Award Session.
officer elections for Secretary Elect and Program Officer Elect will
be held by electronic ballot this spring. The DVM Nominating
Committee, John Hermanson (Chair), Chris Marshall and Bret Tobalske,
nominated the current DVM Secretary, Gary Gillis and the current DVM
Program Officer, Jeff Walker, to run unopposed. This is the first
election after our bylaw change last year that increased the term
limit for Program Officer from one term to two terms - a change
that was made to make the most of experience gained by the PO in the
first term. Thanks to Gary and Jeff for agreeing to run again and
thanks to the members of the DVM Nominating Committee for their
those of us coming from regions further north, Orlando provided a
nice, albeit all too brief, change of climate. I hope you all had as
much fun as I did enjoying wonderful talks, engaging conversations,
seeing old friends and meeting new ones (maybe even basking in the
sun...). I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank
Audrone Biknevicius for her excellent work in past years and for
making my transition to DVM secretary as smooth as possible.
Business Meeting Notes (1/6/2006)
Hale announced that the Society's Journal, Integrative and
Comparative Biology, is now being run by Oxford University Press.
Among other new features, we will soon be able to access all issues
(including old American Zoologists) online.
Aerts reminded us that the next International Congress of Vertebrate
Morphology (ICVM) is being held in Paris in July 2007. Ideas for
symposia were to be submitted by February 1, 2006.
Fish let us know about a new journal, Bioinspiration &
Biomimetics, which is likely to be of interest to many of our
members. The first issue is likely due in early 2007. Check it out
online at: http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/1748-3190
also noted that SICB's digital library has a biomechanics education
website with a bibliography of useful books as well as various sample
see it for yourself or submit your own ideas at:
Matthias Starck highlighted the
exciting new issue of Zoology (last issue of 2005) featuring
articles based on the symposium in honor of Marvalee Wake's
outstanding contributions to our field.
Brainerd announced the election of Jeff Walker as our new Program
Officer and me, Gary Gillis, as our new Secretary. An enthusiastic
round of applause was provided for John Bertram and Audrone
Biknevicius in thanks for their efforts in these roles previously
(although Jeff thought it was for him).
Brainerd then introduced three issues of importance to our Division.
she brought up the proposal by Bob Full for a new Division of
Comparative Biomechanics. A variety of potential pros (e.g.,
invertebrate systems could be included, more student prizes would be
available) and cons (DVM might lose some clout if its membership
wanes as a result of current members shifting their
affiliations…currently members are limited to two divisional
affiliations) were mentioned and discussed. A timely visit by the
Society's new officers further enlivened this conversation and also
provided an opportunity for some discussion about the program
officer's difficult role in assembling the annual meeting schedule.
Essentially, scheduling conflicts are inevitable given the large
number of symposia. In addition, I doubt we'll see "paleo" as
an organizing theme for future DVM sessions (in response to Kevin
Padian's impassioned plea).
Beth lamented NSF's relatively recent elimination of Doctoral
Dissertation Improvement Grants (DDIGs) in our area and suggested we
might try to organize a response to this.
Beth introduced the possibility of making changes to the D. Dwight
Davis Award competition. Dave Carrier, representing the Student
Awards Committee, proposed that students be allowed to compete only
once for this prize, and that all competitors present in the same
(early) session at the annual meeting. An online ballot will be
conducted this spring addressing these two issues separately.
Student Award Winners
is always the case, many of our best papers and posters were
presented by students in Orlando.
|Davis Award (Tie)||Davis Award (Tie)||Poster Award|
|Herman Pontzer||Mason Dean||Biren Patel|
year there was a tie for the Davis award and both Herman Pontzer
of Harvard University, pictured above walking Corby, and Mason
Dean of the University of California, Irvine, pictured above with
coauthor Manny Azizi (both are wearing thinking caps), were
recognized for their outstanding work. Herman's paper was entitled
"Linking Locomotor Energetics to Limb Design in Terrestrial
Animals". In it he presented a test of his LiMb Model, which
predicts locomotor cost from basic anatomical and kinematic
variables. He was able to show that it works well across different
species and different speeds of locomotion. Herman was particularly
intrigued because his results suggest that differences in limb length
are the driving factor underlying the scaling of locomotor costs in
animals. Mason's talk was entitled "Uniform strain in broad
muscles: A new twist on tendons". His work showed that the twisting
of the tendon of the main jaw closer in ratfish leads to more
homogenous strain patterns across the muscle. In short, a simple
morphological alteration can have profound functional effects.
Patel of Stony Brook University, pictured above about to get to
work on his computer, won the poster award for his work with Kristian
Carlson entitled "Subchondral bone mineral density in the distal
radius reflects habitual use of the forelimb in sloths and anteaters
(Order Xenarthra)". They showed that apparent bone density
patterns differ between quadrupedal anteaters and suspensory sloths.
This work follows a previous study of non-human primates that showed
similar patterns for quadrupedal (e.g., monkeys and African apes)
versus suspensory (e.g., orangutans and gibbons) animals, suggesting
that bone density patterns can be used to distinguish taxa that
regularly load their forelimbs differently. Biren is excited to
extend this approach to studying fossil taxa and inferring
information on locomotor habits of extinct animals.
from the Student/Postdoc Representative
year's meeting in Orlando had a lot to offer the graduate students
and post-docs in attendance. Two workshops organized by the SPDAC
were held on the last evening of the meeting. The first, "Optimizing
Your Graduate School Experience", was paneled primarily by graduate
students and post-docs, informing newer members of SICB about how to
go about securing funding for their graduate careers outside of
teaching, once university stipends run out. The second workshop,
"Strategies for Landing an Academic Job", covered strategies
students and post-docs can use to land both academic and government
jobs. This workshop was paneled by faculty members from various
colleges, universities, and government research positions and covered
a variety of topics, including what to look for in a department,
teaching responsibilities, funding expectations, and lots more.
Additionally, Bob Full provided the proceedings with a list of
"Qualms and Questions for an Academic Job Interview". This and
other materials from the workshop can be found at
http://www.sicb.org/careers/resources.php3. Thanks to a number of
DVM's members who participated in these workshops to help make them
this year's SPDAC committee meeting, three main topics were
discussed. First, we discussed how to make future Grad Student and
Post-doc Luncheons fulfill more than just our stomachs. It was
suggested that the format of these luncheons be changed to include
seating 1-2 faculty member volunteers at a table with 6-8 grad
students and post-docs to discuss a range of topics, professional,
intellectual, and otherwise. Given the success of our
faculty-paneled workshop this year, this new format would be
incredibly insightful and rewarding for any in attendance, both
faculty and students. If you are interested in being a faculty
member volunteer for this luncheon at next year's meeting or have
comments or suggestions on this proposed format please send me an
second point of discussion was the topic for next year's SPDAC
workshop. It was proposed that next year's workshop inform
students about the scientific paper submission and review process.
This workshop would cover how to find the right journal for your
paper, the requirements for submission, how this process might change
as more journals move to electronic submission and publication, and
addressing reviewers' comments. We envision having this workshop
be paneled by members of the editorial boards of different journals
representative of the different SICB divisions. If you hold (or have
held) an editorial position for any of the following journals (JEB,
J. Morph., J. Anat., etc.) and would be willing to represent DVM at
this workshop please let me know.
there was some concern amongst the SPDAC members that more grad
students and post-docs should be attending their divisional meetings
for the continued health and growth of SICB. It was suggested that
each division possibly incorporate a paper and book reprint exchange
either before or after the divisional meeting to try to garner larger
numbers. If we, as a division, are concerned about increasing the
student and post-doc participation at these meetings, this might be
something we could try for a half hour, either before or after the
divisional meeting. If you have any opinions or suggestions
regarding this please let me know.
SICB-DVM Elections For Divisional Program
Officer and Secretary
year we are holding elections for Program Officer and Secretary. As
explained in Beth's message above, both Jeff and I were nominated
to run unopposed. If you're a careful reader with an impeccable
memory, you might notice that our goals remain unchanged from last
spring; this is largely because 1) we really liked our goals, and 2)
we haven't been on the job long enough to develop new ones.
A. Walker, PhD
Position. Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Southern
Maine (since 2000) http://www.usm.maine.edu/~walker/
1995, Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook.
1988, Geology with Honors, University of Pennsylvania;
Postdoctoral fellowships, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.
and Honors. NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.
Activities. D. Dwight Davis Award judge (2000, 2002-2003);
Chair/Co-chair in a locomotion contributed session (every year).
Interests. Integrative functional morphology, ecology, and
evolution. Science methodology, including statistics and modeling.
26 refereed publications
most recent publications:
J. A. 2004. Kinematics
and performance of median and paired fins as control surfaces.
IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 29, 572-584.
M. W., Thorsen, D. H., Walker, J. A. and Hale, M. E. 2004.
function and neural control of pectoral fins in fishes. IEEE
Journal of Ocean Engineering 29, 674-683.
J. A. 2004. Dynamics
of pectoral fin rowing in a fish with an extreme rowing stroke: the
threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Journal of
Experimental Biology, 207: 1925-1939.
C. K., D. N. Reznick, and J. A. Walker. 2004.
on adaptive evolution: the functional trade-off between reproduction
and fast start escape performance in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata).
American Naturalist, 164:38-50.
C. K., J. A. Walker, and D. N. Reznick. 2003.
selection, adaptation, and constraints on the evolution of burst
swimming performance. Integrative and Comparative Biology,
as Program Officer. I would like to continue the trend of
developing highly integrative contributed sessions and symposia that
allow scientists from diverse fields but overlapping interests to
learn from each other. Similarly, I would also like to continue the
recent practice of scheduling poster sessions that do not compete
with either afternoon talks or evening social schedules. Finally, I
will schedule senior graduate students and especially postdocs into
the better-attended sessions occurring earlier in the week in order
to give them and their research increased exposure.
Position. Assistant Professor of Biology, Mount Holyoke College,
South Hadley, MA (since 2002)
Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California,
B.S. (Biology), B.A. (History), Magna Cum Laude. Pacific Lutheran
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Mount Holyoke College;
Member of Neuroscience and Behavior Program, Mount Holyoke College;
Member, Graduate Program in Organismic and Evolutionary. Biology,
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Concord Field Station, Harvard
N.I.H. Postdoctoral Fellow, Concord Field Station, Harvard University
Lecturer, U.C. Irvine School of Biological Sciences (Functional
Biological Technician, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Vertebrate Zoology Intern, National Museum of Natural History,
and Honors. 1994: Stoye Award, Best Student Paper in
Genetics, Development and Morphology, American Society of
Ichthyologists and Herpetologists; 1998-2001: NIH National Research
Service Award; 2002-Present: Writer, Outside JEB: 2004 NSF DDIG
Activities. Member 1991-present; D. Dwight Davis Award
Committee 1999; DCPB Student Award Committee 2006; co-chair of
numerous contributed paper sessions; invited participant in several
symposia; published and reviewed papers for American Zoologist and
Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Biomechanics, functional morphology, and neuromuscular control of
Musculoskeletal design, physiology, and evolution
Ecological and evolutionary transitions between aquatic and
terrestrial environments, and their effects on organismal structure
18 refereed publications plus 2 book reviews and 12 popular science
most recent publications:
G.B., Flynn, J.P. McGuigan, P. and A.A. Biewener. 2005.
Patterns of strain and
in the thigh muscles of goats across gaits during level locomotion.
J. Exp. Biol. 208:4599-4611
G.B and A.A. Biewener. 2003. The importance of functional plasticity
in the design and control of the vertebrate musculoskeletal system.
In Vertebrate Biomechanics and Evolution (ed. V.L. Bels, J.P.
Gasc, and A. Casinos). Bios Scientific Publishers Ltd., Oxford.
E., G.B. Gillis and E.L. Brainerd. 2002. Morphology and mechanics
of myosepta in swimming salamander (Siren lacertina). Comp.
Biochem. Physiol. A. 133:967-978.
G.B. and A.A. Biewener. 2002. Effects of surface grade on
proximal hindlimb muscle strain and activation during rat locomotion.
J. Appl. Physiol. 93:1731-1743.
M.A. and G.B. Gillis. 2002. A brief history of functional
morphology. Integ. and Comp. Biol. 42: 183-189.
Memberships.American Physiological Society (APS),
American Society for Biomechanics (ASB), Sigma Xi, The Society for
Experimental Biology (SEB)
as Secretary. I have been an active member of SICB
since I started graduate school in 1991. Of all the societal
meetings I attend, none comes close to fostering the sort of
environment for students that SICB does: the science is great, the
social scene(s) good fun, and, perhaps most importantly, you have the
opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with people ranging from the
president of the society to an undergraduate attending her/his first
meeting. As someone that has been pleasantly reaping the benefits of
these meetings for close to 15 years, I'd like to start playing a
more active role in ensuring that the society continues to put these
meetings, and the experiences for students (graduate and
undergraduate), at the top of its priority list. I would also like
to be sure that we keep an appropriate balance between maintaining
our identity as a vital division and resource for all things vert.
morph., and coordinating activities with other divisions so as to
continue the progress we have been making toward integrating the
various approaches and conceptual frameworks central to organismal
biology more broadly.
and one more thing - despite the fact that people tell me I'm going
deaf and (I know) my handwriting is one step beyond atrocious, I
assure you that, as secretary, I will listen, take notes and
communicate ideas with abandon.
Link to officer list on DVM page