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Message from the Program Officer

John Pearse

The 2001 SICB Annual Meeting, Jan. 3-7 in Chicago, is shaping up nicely and promises to be another great gathering of integrative and comparative biologists. It will open with an address by Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago on "Major Patterns of Evolution in Dinosaurs." Paul has made major discoveries of large carnivorous dinosaurs and is well known for his perceptive revelations of dinosaur evolution and his dynamic speaking style. Sereno's talk will be followed by a welcome reception where we can mix with new and old colleagues and friends.

The Chicago meeting will feature 15 symposia, covering a wide range of topics (see 2001 Annual Meeting Symposia in this newsletter). Nearly all the divisions are sponsoring at least one symposium and DVM is sponsoring four. Included are a society-wide 2-day symposium on symbiosis, a plant and animal physiolgoical ecology symposium co-sponsored by DCPB, DEE, and the Physiological Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America, and two symposia focusing on teaching, one sponsored by the Education Council.

Many of us look forward to hearing Alan Kohn's past presidential address entitled "Deadly beauties of the southern seas: Integrative and comparative biology of Conus". Alan will tell of his nearly 50 years of insightful and productive research on these beautiful snails.

We received well over 850 abstracts for oral and poster presentations for this meeting, exceeding last year's number, and promising to make the Chicago meeting among our largest ever. As done in Atlanta last year, the oral presentations are being arranged by topic, with the assistance of the divisional program officers, to produce what we hope will result again in a coherent, rich, and exciting set of sessions every day. Because of our success last year with the oral presentations, we will arrange the poster presentations by topic as well.

In addition to the Grad/Postdoc Student workshop, there will be at least two other workshops. The Division of Systematics and Evolutionary Biology is continuing the "Phylogenetics for Dummies" series with this year's title being "Picking a Tree from the Forest". The hard-working Public Affairs Committee is arranging a Public Affairs Workshop on "Science Documentaries: Communicating Effectively". And, we will have a special town-meeting luncheon workshop where Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Scientific Education will lead a discussion on how to respond to creationists, including those promoting "intellegent design." Recent elections in Kansas, where the voters rejected anti-evolution school board members, show that well focused, rational arguments can be persuasive in this on-going, inflammatory issue.

We are pleased that we will be joined once again by the American Microscopical Society, Animal Behavior Society, International Society for Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, and The Crustacean Society; both the American Microscopical Society and The Crustacean Society will be co-sponsoring symposia. In addition, it is a pleasure to welcome the Physiological Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America, who, as mentioned above, is co-sponsoring another of the symposia, and who we hope will help attract more plant biologists to our membership.

All in all, a great looking meeting. I look forward to joining you in Chicago to welcome in the first year of the 21st Century. See you there.