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SICB 1998 Spring Newsletter

Spring Newsletters by Division

Message from the President,

Alan J. Kohn

The 1998 SICB Annual Meeting, Jan. 3-7 in Boston, was our biggest and generally most successful in years. Almost 1,200 people participated (up 60 percent from the previous meeting), and the number of presentations increased by 40 percent from last year and 25 percent from the average of the prior three years. The nine symposia were integrative, exciting and very well-attended. Members of the new cosponsoring Ecological Society of America and International Society for Reef Studies greatly enriched the meeting, as did several other innovative events.

We launched the new series of late-breaking symposia, with "Innovations in Evolutionary Biology." Provocative talks by Stephen Jay Gould and Lynn Margulis packed the ballroom the first evening. Both stimulated controversial discussions that persisted over the next several days! Next year’s late-breaking symposium will probably address science and the conservation of biological resources, and promises to be equally galvanizing.

Another innovation at Boston was the launch of our new journal, Integrative Biology: Issues, News and Reviews, and distribution of Vol. 1, No. 1. All members of SICB will receive this bimonthly magazine-style publication as a member benefit within the regular dues structure, at least for its first two years.

We also welcomed President Giraldo Alayón and Vice President Gilberto Silva of the Cuban Zoological Society (CZS) to our meeting, and signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding between the two societies to foster cooperative relationships. I encourage SICB members to join the CZS. The dues are modest by U.S. standards and will help to support the scientific efforts of our colleagues in Cuba. Further details are in the Fall 1997 newsletter or are available from the SICB Business Office.

Also in an international vein, colleagues Dov Por in Israel and Rosa Polymeni in Greece are hard at work with a team organizing an International Congress of Zoology, the first in 25 years. Details of the Congress, to be held in Athens in early September, 2000, are on p.15 of this newsletter. And in August, 1999, the XVI International Botanical Congress will be held in St. Louis. Its organizers have invited SICB to participate, and information on the planned symposia and other aspects of the Congress program are available at

The SICB Executive Committee took a number of actions at Boston that I would like to summarize, particularly because several of these are pocketbook issues. Membership dues remain unchanged for 1998, but the Executive Committee voted to increase all dues categories by 10 percent for 1999. We have had no dues increase over the last four years, and the society’s operating expenses have increased, especially business office costs including improved software for abstract and program processing.

To encourage electronic submission of abstracts, the Executive Committee voted an abstract fee of $35 if submitted electronically and $40 if submitted on paper, for 1999. And in order to reduce the costs of distributing the SICB abstract issue of American Zoologist, we have decided not to mail the volume in advance to all meeting registrants. This has become very expensive with the heavier volume of abstracts, and it must be sent by priority mail to ensure arrival during the holiday rush. Rather, the complete meeting program will be posted in advance on the SICB web site and the Final Program and Abstracts book will be distributed to all participants at registration. The abstract book will be sent bulk mail after the meeting to subscribers and all members who did not attend the meeting.

In another decision with fiscal ramifications, the Executive Committee increased the time limit for the postdoctoral membership category, from three years to five years or until employed, whichever comes first.

The letter in support of strengthening the Endangered Species Act, which I mentioned in my Fall 1997 newsletter message, has been completed and submitted to Congress and the administration. In addition, the Conservation Committee issued a press release. You may have seen the shortened version we published as an advertisement in the national edition of the New York Times in February (paid for mostly by private funds). In addition to past president Mike Hadfield and myself, presidents of eight other scientific societies joined us in signing the statement. These include the Ecological Society of America, American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Botanical Society of America, Entomological Society of America, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Malacological Union, American Society of Mammalogists, and Western Society of Naturalists. See page 9 for a copy of this letter.

Two SICB committees will be increasing their levels of activity in 1998, and both need the help of all members. The Membership Committee, newly constituted with Craig Young at the helm, will be working with the SICB Business Office on the most effective ways to increase membership in the society. Currently over 2,300, membership has increased slightly over the past few years, with most of the gain in student memberships. While full members quite willingly subsidize some of the benefits of student members, because this nurtures the future of our science, we do need to attract more full members. The committee will do its best, but every member should try to recruit at least one new full member this year. Please contact Micki Unkrich at the SICB Business Office if you’d like her to send a packet to one or more prospective members.

Finally, the Development Committee chaired by Mike Greenberg, is also undertaking a major campaign this year to substantially enhance the endowment of our Grants-in-Aid of Research program in support of student research. Last year we were able to increase the amount awarded from $5,000 to $6,000, and this year we are hoping that added interest will permit an even greater increase. I encourage all members who can afford a donation to insure the future health of biology in this way.

Message from the Treasurer,

Kimberly Smith

First of all, I want to express my gratitude to Mary Beth Saffo who has done an outstanding job as treasurer and to thank her for all her help during my transition.

The income projected for year end appears to be quite high. This is due to the fact that the Annual Meeting was moved from December to January and we did not hold a meeting in the 1997 fiscal year. Therefore, there was no Annual Meeting income or expense. Beginning with the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver, the annual budget will become consistent again.

We were fortunate to enjoy a great attendance at the meeting and the large number of student participants really invigorated the meeting and laid the groundwork for the future SICB members. However, SICB continues to subsidize student registration rates while fixed meeting costs stay the same. Therefore, the more student participants, the wider the disparity between full member and student income.

We believe that student support is very critical to the society. However, we also need to continue good financial management of funds. The Executive Committee has been discussing a review of the registration fees, which have not been increased in several years.

Several new initiatives are in the works which will enhance the member benefits already offered:

  • Subscription to Integrative Biology: Issues, News and Reviews is provided to each member at no additional cost to the individual.
  • The career brochure is currently being printed.
  • SICB has joined the Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences (CELS).

Membership Dues
The Executive Committee approved a proposed 10 percent increase in all dues categories beginning in 1999. The dues have remained flat for many years and we felt it was prudent to try and recoup some inflationary dollars. Membership recruitment and retention will continue to be a strategic issue for the society.

Member Contributions
SICB has been fortunate to have had generous donations from our members over the years.

Charlotte Mangum, who recently passed away and who will be missed, generously bequeathed a large endowment to the society to offset student support. This gesture not only allows Charlotte to have an ongoing legacy, but will have a positive influence on the meeting budget.

I look forward to being your treasurer for the next three years and if you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know.

Message from the Secretary,

Thomas G. Wolcott

It must have been El Niño, which has been blamed for everything else. At the Boston meetings both the seasonally-adjusted temperatures and the attendance were high. It was particularly encouraging that there were so many graduate student attendees, and it is incumbent on us elder statespersons (i.e., old fogeys) to continue encouraging students to expose themselves to the smorgasbord of mind-broadening science, and the great networking opportunities, that the SICB meetings present.

For Donna and me, the Entity Formerly Known As ASZ (EFKAA) has been like an extended family for over two decades. Indeed, until this year we always brought along our larvae, at first as baby-sittees, later as baby-sitters, and they have lots of "biological" aunts and uncles. It probably reflects more on us than on SICB that one is now a master’s candidate in English and the other a junior in industrial design.

We, as teachers and investigators of biological wonders, are absolutely sold on the benefits of finding out what other folks are doing, learning new things, and (perhaps most importantly) learning why those new things are interesting. Nowhere but at SICB do we get such stimulation to stretch our borders. Thanks to all of you for being there and contributing to the process!

The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
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Phone: 703-790-1745 or 800-955-1236
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