Spring 2023: Division of Animal Behavior

Message from DAB Leadership

Avery Russell, Chair.DAB@sicb.org; Stephanie Campos, DPO.DAB@sicb.org; Allison Welch, Secretary.DAB@sicb.org; Conner Philson (Student Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative)

A huge thank you to all of the presenters, attendees, and volunteers who participated in SICB 2023 in Austin and in SICB+! We were thrilled to see so many of you in person this year, and we are grateful for everyone’s flexibility and resilience in navigating the in-person and virtual conference formats again this year.  We particularly appreciate that so many facilitated accessibility and uploaded their presentations to SICB+. We hope you were able to engage with colleagues and enjoy some excellent science through one or both of these modalities.

DAB leadership
Your DAB Leadership Team (from left to right): Conner Philson, Avery Russell, Stephanie Campos, Allison Welch.

An extra shout out to the many folks who engaged with DAB at SICB 2023 in the following ways:

  • Student Mentoring Program participants, both students and mentors
  • Best Student Presentation competition presenters, attendees, and judges
  • DAB Members Meeting attendees

Minutes from the DAB Members Meeting are posted on the SICB website.  If you missed them, you can find them here.

We value your engagement in DAB, and we warmly welcome all DAB members to participate in the future! If you are interested in other ways of getting involved in SICB/DAB, please reach out to a member of the DAB Executive Committee. If you have ideas to improve DAB, please let us know.

Photos DAB 2023 Annual Meeting Social
DAB members enjoying the DAB/DNNSB/DCE Joint Social.

Best Student Presentation Competitions

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2023 Marlene Zuk and Elizabeth Adkins-Regan competitions, including students, judges, and attendees. This year’s competitions featured excellent student work and a high level of engagement across DAB with 58 students and 44 judges involved. Six finalists participated in the Zuk Award special session (a live session in Austin and accompanying SICB+ session), while the 42 Adkins-Regan Award entrants presented in poster sessions throughout SICB and SICB+. Special thanks to the poster judges for their dedicated efforts to provide substantive feedback despite challenges with the score submission system. We are very proud of the quality of student research represented in the DAB Best Student Presentation competitions and of the commitment of the judges and other DAB members to supporting student development.

The Marlene Zuk Award

Rebecca Westwick headshot
Rebecca Westwick, 2023 Marlene Zuk Award.
Honey bees used in research
Honey bees on an experimental hive used in Westwick’s research.

The Marlene Zuk Award for best oral presentation was awarded to Rebecca Westwick for her talk entitled “Alarm cues alter nursing behavior in aggressive honey bee colonies.” Rebecca is a PhD candidate at the University of Kentucky advised by Dr. Clare Rittschof. She is interested in how previous experiences–particularly social experiences and experiences that happen in early life–shape behavior, brain function, and health in animals. Using the western honey bee as a model system, she is currently studying how parental care, communication, and aggression collide to alter the behavioral trajectory of larvae. In the research she presented at SICB, Rebecca experimentally demonstrated that the influence of honeybee alarm pheromone on nurse bees depends on social context, disrupting larval care behavior among nurse bees from aggressive colonies, but not among those from colonies characterized by lower levels of aggression.

Zuk finalists for 2023
Zuk Finalists (clockwise from upper left): Lisa Surber, Annelise Blanchette, Grace Zhong, Melanie Kimball, Annaliese Novinger.

The entire Zuk Award session was an impressive display of top-notch DAB student research. The other Zuk Finalists were Lisa Surber (“Behavioral, morphological, and hormonal plasticity in cannibalistic poison frog tadpoles”), Annelise Blanchette (“Lead exposure is associated with significant physiological detriments in urban lizards”), Grace Zhong (“Thermotaxis in an apolar, non-neuronal animal”), Melanie Kimball (“Estradiol and predator cues affect behavior and brain responses of captive female house sparrows”), and Annaliese Novinger (“Learned bee-haviors of pollen-foraging bees“). Congratulations to all of the Finalists for their achievement! 


The Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award

William Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award (with an adult bluebird
William Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award (with an adult bluebird, Sialis sialis).

William Kirkpatrick received the Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award for his poster “Thermal variation and averages oppositely affect breeding behavior of two cavity nesting birds.” William is a PhD Student in the lab of Dr. Sarah DuRant at the University of Arkansas. He is primarily interested in the effects of climatic variability on wildlife behavior and physiology. His research uses the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) and Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) to determine how changes in natural thermal variability affect nest choice, parental care, and offspring phenotype. In his SICB poster, William reported that greater variability in nest temperature was associated with more time spent incubating and shorter bouts away from the nest, while higher average temperature was associated with less time spent incubating the nest.  

Many congratulations to the awardees and finalists, kudos to all student presenters, and a big round of applause to all of the judges who helped evaluate and provide feedback for the student talk and poster presenters!

A few presentations from the Adkins-Regan Best Student Poster competition
Just a few of the fantastic presentations in this year’s Adkins-Regan Best Student Poster competition.

DAB Mentoring Program

The DAB Mentoring Program was organized again this year by Dr. Rindy Anderson, with nine teams of mentors and students who met in person during SICB 2023 in Austin. Thank you to Rindy and to the volunteer mentors for making this year’s program possible! Please consider participating next year or reaching out to help organize. 

DAB Leadership Update

Welcome to Dr. Stephanie Campos, our new DAB Divisional Program Officer!  Thank you to Stephanie for stepping in as interim DPO this past year.  We are thrilled to have Stephanie continue as part of the DAB leadership team and grateful to her for her work on the program for this year’s meeting.

Please Submit Proposals for SICB Symposia

Every year at SICB, symposia generate the most pre-conference buzz and garner the most attention at the conference by drawing the biggest crowds. Please consider submitting a symposium proposal for SICB 2025 in Atlanta! Organizing a symposium is the best way to highlight current research in your field and to introduce the SICB community to young investigators, contribute to the amplification of diverse voices and share the inclusive and innovative work being done by your divisions. Proposals for symposia for SICB 2025 in Atlanta will be due in August, 2023. If you are considering submitting a proposal but don’t know where to start, we have the perfect resource for you! Check out the Symposium Organizer Playbook, a very thorough guide to proposing and organizing a SICB symposium, complete with a suggested timeline!

DAB is interested in supporting symposia that highlight animal behavior in diverse animal systems and in co-sponsoring symposia that integrate animal behavior with complementary fields of research. Symposia that address diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice are highly encouraged. Benefits include increasing the profile of a research topic and publication of symposium papers in Integrative and Comparative Biology (ICB). If you have an idea for a symposium topic or questions about organizing a symposium, please reach out to DAB’s program officer, Stephanie Campos (DPO.DAB@sicb.org), who can help you navigate the symposium proposal process.

Calling all Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Members of DAB!

We are seeking individuals to nominate as the next DAB representative on the Student and Postdoctoral Affairs Committee (SPDAC). Are you a graduate student or postdoctoral member interested in getting more involved with SICB and DAB? Do you expect to remain a graduate student and/or postdoctoral scholar through January 2027? Then please consider volunteering for this role! As a SPDAC representative, you will participate in and assist with SPDAC activities, including ~2-3 virtual meetings/year and SPDAC-sponsored meetings and events at the 2024, 2025, and 2026 annual SICB meetings. In addition, the DAB SPDAC representative serves as the student/postdoctoral rep to the DAB Executive Committee.

If you are interested in volunteering for or learning more about this role, please reach out to DAB Chair Avery Russell (Chair.DAB@sicb.org) or our current DAB SPDAC representative Conner Philson (cphilson@ucla.edu). We seek potential representatives who have a strong desire to serve in this position, who communicate carefully and concisely, and who are enthusiastic about SICB and DAB. As required by SICB bylaws, the DAB officers will provide a list of candidates to the SICB President, who will select and appoint the new SPDAC representative.

Follow DAB on Social Media

Please follow @SICB_DAB on Twitter and join the SICB Division of Animal Behavior group on Facebook. Our Twitter team, made up of Brett Hodinka (@BrettHodinka), Sarah Manka-Worthington (@SauroloSarah), and Mena Davidson (@mena_davidson), is working hard to boost our social media presence and bring SICB DAB content to your feed. Thank you to outgoing social media team member, Dr. Matt LeFauvre, and welcome to Mena Davidson who has joined the team!

ABS 2023

The 2023 Animal Behavior Society (ABS) annual meeting will be July 12-15 in Portland, Oregon. ABS is DAB’s sibling organization, and SICB DAB is often well-represented there!

Vote in the Upcoming SICB Election

DAB is electing a new Divisional Secretary this year, and all DAB members, including students, are encouraged to vote! In addition, all SICB members are eligible and encouraged to vote for Society-wide positions. More information about the DAB Secretary candidates is below; the SICB-wide newsletter contains candidate biographies for Society-wide positions. The ballot can be accessed HERE.

Many thanks to the DAB Nominating Committee, composed of Dr. Eleanor Caves, Dr. Isaac Ligocki, and Dr. Jordanna Sprayberry, for their work lining up candidates. If you are interested in running for DAB office or serving on a future nominating committee, please reach out to a member of the current DAB Nominating Committee or the current DAB Executive Committee. We encourage all DAB members to consider how to get involved!

Finally, we are also voting on minor amendments to the DAB bylaws, to align divisional bylaws with changes in the society-wide bylaws. These amendments are posted here.

Candidates for Divisional Secretary

Alexandra Bentz

Alexandra Bentz with a lake in the background.
Alexandra Bentz, candidate for DAB Secretary.

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Education: B.S. Biology, Appalachian State University (2010); M.S. Biology, Appalachian State University (2012); Ph.D. Avian Biology, University of Georgia (2017)

Professional Experience: Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma (2021–present); Postdoctoral Fellow, Indiana University (2017–2021)

SICB Activities: Member since graduate school, member of the Division of Animal Behavior (DAB) and the Division of Comparative Endocrinology (DCE); judge for the Best Student Presentation competition; mentor in the DAB Mentoring program

Other Memberships: Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, Animal Behavior Society, American Ornithologists’ Union, Wilson Ornithological Society

Research Interests: animal behavior, particularly social behaviors; parental effects; endocrinology; developmental biology; neurogenomics; animal physiology; avian biology

Goals Statement: I am honored to be considered for the role of DAB Secretary. I have always considered SICB to be my scientific “home” and look forward to attending the annual meeting every year. The SICB community played a formative role in my development as a scientist (and now that of my students!), so I am excited for the opportunity to give back to the Society. Given my broad training in behavior, endocrinology, and genomics, I believe I am well-suited to serve the diverse membership. As DAB Secretary, I would actively work to showcase the research of early career scientists, support the goals of the executive committee, and facilitate effective communication within the division and the Society-at-large. I would strive to create a collaborative and supportive environment that contributes to the Society’s efforts to foster the next generation of scientists. I am committed to upholding the high standards set by previous officers while also bringing my own unique perspective to the role. Thank you for considering me as a candidate for DAB Secretary.

Caitlin Gabor

Caitlin Gabor
Caitlin Gabor, candidate for DAB Secretary.

Current Position: Professor of Biology and Associate Director, Xiphophorus Genetic Stock Center, Texas State University

Education: B.A. Aquatic Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara (1990); M.S., Biology, University of Louisiana, Lafayette (1993); Ph.D., University of Louisiana, Lafayette (1997)

Professional Experience: Assistant through Full Professor, Biology, Texas State University (2000-present); Fulbright Scholar, Hungary (2019); NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Texas, Austin (1997-1999)

SICB Activities: Member of DAB, DEE and DEDE since 2014; DAB Best Student Presentation Judge (2019-2021); Broadening Participation Mentor (2020, 2021); DEE Beers and Brains (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022); Invited symposium speaker (2021)

Other Memberships: Sigma Xi, Animal Behavior Society (elected Fellow, 2020), Texas Herpetological Society

Research Interests: Our lab’s research program spans conservation physiology to behavioral ecology. We focus on the consequences of anthropogenic factors on fish and amphibian population declines from a behavioral, evolutionary, and conservation physiology perspective. We have also studied the historical forces of natural and sexual selection on speciation in a unisexual-bisexual species complex of live-bearing fish from a behavioral, evolutionary, and physiological standpoint.

Statement of Goals: I am honored to be considered for the role of DAB Secretary. For many years colleagues told me that I would love SICB meetings. They were correct. I finally attended my first SICB meeting in 2014 and have not looked back. I value the integrative nature of SICB and the welcoming vibes. As faculty at a HSI institution, an advisor to many underrepresented groups who has been trained by NRMN in diversity mentoring, and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I think I have a diverse perspective to bring to this role. With my students (and others) in mind I am always considering new ways to be more welcoming and supportive of our diverse members. If elected DAB Secretary, I will be eager to continue to support the division, and follow in the footsteps of prior DAB Secretaries. I will promote open and supportive communication from the diverse SICB/DAB membership. I especially aim to promote opportunities for making connection between young scientists and more established ones in this position while fostering diversity. Finally, as previous Chair of the Animal Behavior Society Public Affairs Committee I have experience to leverage in the realm of communication.