HomeVolume Spring 2006
Message from the Past Program Officer

Catherine Loudon

The 2006 SICB meeting in January in Orlando was another success, with over 1,000 presentations for the third year in a row. These numbers demonstrate the vitality and importance of this annual meeting for so many scientists who find an intellectual home in this integrative and comparative gathering. Thanks to all of the presenters, symposium organizers, the other members of the Program Committee (the Divisional Program Officers and representatives from other affiliated societies), the SICB webmaster, members of the Executive Committee, and the excellent staff of Burk and Associates for making it such a positive and stimulating experience for so many individuals. Many of the symposium topics cut across divisional boundaries and attracted broad society interest, including symposia on conservation and public health, development and evolution in model and non-model organisms, neural control and biomechanics.

The level of student involvement and support at the annual meeting continues to be very high, with several events of special interest to graduate students and postdocs at this latest meeting, including a "Graduate Student/Postdocs Welcome Orientation," and workshops on "Optimizing your graduate school experience," and "Strategies for landing an academic job/postdoc." There was also an annual Society-wide "Social in Honor of Students and Postdocs."

The process of planning and assembling the program of the annual meeting continues to change over the years. Some of the aspects of scheduling or organization that appear to relate directly to the success of the meeting in recent years include: direct involvement of the full program committee in assembling the program and selection of symposia; selection of symposia over a year in advance to allow organizers an opportunity to obtain funding; poster sessions in the afternoons without competing events; socials and special talks in the evenings; a variety of student/postdoc-oriented activities and talks; opportunities to meet with representatives from funding agencies; assembling the talks into logical sessions using input from speakers (topics chosen during abstract submittal), and encouragement of special workshops or discussion groups that complement sessions. I appreciate the support of the members of the Executive Committee and the SICB webmaster, with whom I have worked extensively to bring the management of the annual meeting and the society bylaws into mutual agreement; that is, to either uphold existing bylaws or work to modify or delete ones that are not enforceable or cause disproportionate expenditures of time or effort by Program Committee members who are already working very hard. Along those lines, I would like to express gratitude to the leadership and members of the DCPB, DEE, and DIZ divisions, who supported the request of the Program Committee to eliminate their divisional affiliation requirements for their Best Student Paper awards. The Program Committee had requested that those three divisions eliminate the requirement because of the difficulties of enforcing such requirements.

My term as Program Officer ended with the 2006 meeting, and the next Program Officer, Linda Walters, has been working hard to develop and coordinate the annual meetings for 2007 and 2008. The next meeting (SICB 2007) promises to be an exciting one that will highlight our new division in comparative biomechanics. It has been enjoyable and challenging working with you all on the annual program over the last few years.