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Message from the President Elect

Marvalee H. Wake

Dear Colleagues:
President Martin Feder suggested that I write to you about the ideas and goals that I hope to pursue as I succeed him as President of our society. I’ve been a member of SICB, and its predecessor, the American Society of Zoologists, for most of my life--a realization that stunned me at first, then quickly told me why I believe that the society is so important and why it deserves my loyalty and any efforts I can give it. The society has brought to me, and to my students, a profound appreciation for organismal biology, sensu lato, and has given us all outstanding models of scientific integrity, innovation, and dedication.
First and foremost, I must place Martin Feder and Kim Smith in that pantheon of excellent scientists who are dedicated citizens of the biological community. I will thank them many times over the next two years for all that they have done to situate the society in a new position of strength, efficiency, and effectiveness, and I’m starting that with this letter. They have worked daily to build the society; their commitment is extraordinary and the time out of their lives and careers that they have given us is enormous. They have set us on a path that gives the society a new sense of its mission; the task now is to keep us on that path while expanding our roles and our activities to develop that mission. I remind Martin that Past Presidents play a major role in the society...and Kim, you can’t get away either.
I view our role during the next two years as one that encourages and fosters the impetus that has been set, and at the same time, broadens our perspective and our leadership in biology and the science of complexity generally--while maintaining our focus on integrative and comparative biology, and all that those terms mean. We must devote considerable time to consolidating our gains, to make it clear that the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology is committed to serve its loyal constituency well, and then to extend that constituency as is appropriate to the mission of the society. We must work to make its voice on significant issues in biology, science more broadly, and societal needs more apparent, sought after, respected and appreciated, because it is based on our scientific expertise. We must communicate to our constituency the role, position, and perspective of our new management group, with whom I already enjoy working and seeing their expertise. More than anything, I think, we must encourage broader participation in the immediate and long-range activities of our society. We have a wonderful, stalwart group of loyal colleagues who serve the society in so many ways; at the same time, it is important that we enlist ever more participants --in the professorate and the profession generally, and our colleagues-in-training (= students) -- so that we have both a continuum of service and a constant infusion of new ideas and perspectives. We will be seeking an ever-broader range of participation in all society activities. I would also like to see the society expand its perspective, but with a strong emphasis on its guiding principles of organismal, integrative, and comparative biology. These principles are not restricted to taxa or to geographic or political entities. I believe that we can foster a broader emphasis on biology by encouraging the participation of scientists whose taxa may not be zoological, or may be zoological and botanical and “microbial”, as well as colleagues from other nations who have simultaneously “discovered” anew the importance of our fundamental principles, to participate in our societal deliberations. We won’t lose our appreciation for zoology and animals, in fact we can enhance it, but we can better inform that appreciation by communicating similar perspectives from colleagues in other fields and from other countries. We will benefit from a broader input of perspectives and ideas, and we can form new collaborations that support our teaching and research through involvement in SICB.
So, I see four major goals for the next biennium--increased participation, increased communication, increased input of perspective to and from the “larger world”, and representation of the contribution of integrative and comparative biology to science and society. The task is at once formidable, but exhilarating in its potential, and our course is well established. I welcome your commitment to these goals and to SICB, your advice, and especially your involvement in any way that you chose--please let me know directly what you would like to do. I look forward to working with you all!
Marvalee H. Wake