SICB 1998 Fall Newsletter
This Newsletter by Section
Public Affairs Committee Report
Dominique Dagit and Ted Grosholz,
Public Affairs Committee Co-Chairs
The Public Affairs Committee has been active making plans for the upcoming 1999 SICB
Annual Meeting in Denver. This year we will sponsor a media workshop, panel discussion and
Communicating Science to the Media
Learn how to effectively present your scientific findings to the general media by
attending the SICB Public Affairs Committee special presentation, "Communicating
Science to the Media," at the SICB Annual Meeting on Friday, January 8 from 3:30 to
5:00 pm. David Baron, science desk editor at National Public Radio (NPR), will facilitate
this session. Find out why certain science stories get media coverage and why, as well as
tips on how to get your research noticed.
Public Affairs Committee Panel Discussion
From Linnaeus to the Laptop: Systematics in the 21st Century
This year's panel discussion promises to be one of the Public Affairs Committee's very
best. A diverse group of non-systematists are lined up to address issues of systematics
and taxonomy and how it affects the science they're doing now, and in the future. This
year's speakers include:
- Alan de Queiroz - "Trees are not just Tools: Phylogeny as an Integral Part of What
We're Trying to Explain"
- Jessica Bolker - "Development Issues and Systematics"
- Jeannine Caira - "Parasite Taxonomy and How it's Changed the Way We Look at
The theme of systematics as a foundation for scientific discovery is brought forth as
panelists will address a broad range of topics from embryological development to parasite
taxonomy. To learn more about how systematics plays a role in the science of the 21st
century come to the panel discussion on Friday, January 8 from 9:30 a.m. - Noon.
To help media representatives find the "hot topics" they're looking for at the
Annual Meeting, we are hosting a press reception immediately before the late-breaking
symposium. We encourage SICB officers and symposia organizers to attend the press
reception to share information on their Annual Meeting sessions.
Science Communicators Award
On behalf of the Public Affairs Committee, Hans Laufer is heading a separate committee of
science journalists and biologists to create a Science Communicators Award. The award will
be presented to a science journalist for outstanding science reporting of integrative and
comparative biology to the general public. Presentation of the first award is planned for
the 2000 SICB Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
Periodically our committee distributes information on legislative actions that affect
biology via e-mail alerts. We hope you find these alerts helpful and encourage your
feedback on these issues.
We look forward to seeing everyone at the media workshop and biodiversity panel
Educational Council Report
John Pilger, Educational Council Chair
The Educational Council is pleased to announce the completion of the revised Careers in
Biology pamphlet. Long-time members of the Society will remember the Careers in Animal
Biology brochure that was produced by ASZ in the 1970s and made available to students.
Through the perseverance of president Alan Kohn, and the work of former Educational
Council chair Sue Cook, member Nina Caris and others on the council, a new incarnation was
brought forth early this summer. A printed copy is available to individuals and schools on
request, but the document is also available on the SICB web site (www.sicb.org). Officers
of SICB divisions also contributed to this effort and we thank them for doing so. We
encourage you to make this resource known within your institutions and to others that may
be wondering what they can do with a biology degree.
In July I attended a meeting of the Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences
(CELS). The topic was "Collaborations in Undergraduate Biology Education" (see
the meeting summary report in this issue). Attending and participating were
representatives of 25 biological societies. The experience left me with the positive
feeling that other scientific societies are also engaged in improving undergraduate
science education. The CELS meeting was designed to seek ways that scientific societies
can work more effectively as a coalition to improve undergraduate science education. The
way that your SICB Educational Council can participate in this effort will be a topic of
discussion at our business meeting at the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver.
In Denver the Educational Council will sponsor a workshop dealing with science
education and pedagogy. At this writing we have not finalized the agenda but we do plan to
offer it the afternoon prior to the opening session of the SICB Annual Meeting on January
6. As you make your flight arrangements you may want to arrive early that day to attend
the workshop. The featured speaker will be Gordon Uno, program director for the Division
of Undergraduate Education at NSF. Watch for more details on the SICB web site
As usual, the Educational Council business meetings are open to all members and we
invite you to attend. Look for the date, time and location in the program information. We
hope to see you at our meeting in Denver!
Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences Workshop
Louise Liao, Jay Labov and John Pilger
On July 8, 1998, John Pilger, SICB Educational Council chair, participated in the
workshop, "Collaborations in Undergraduate Biology Education." Sponsored by the
Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences (CELS) and supported with funds from the
Exxon Education Foundation, the workshop brought together leaders of 25 professional
societies to explore emerging issues in undergraduate education. CELS, a coalition of
professional societies committed to undergraduate biology education in the United States,
includes SICB as a supporting member.
Participants exchanged information about undergraduate activities supported by their
professional societies, discussed the types of educational programs that are well suited
to sponsorship by individual societies or clusters of societies, and identified potential
coordinating roles for CELS. Following reports of successful educational workshops that
have been held by SICB and other professional societies, representatives of several other
professional societies expressed a keen interest in launching educational workshops at
their own annual meetings to showcase instructional materials and effective teaching
SICB is prominently showcased in a new CELS monograph, Professional Societies and the
Faculty Scholar: Promoting Scholarship and Learning in the Life Sciences, which was
unveiled at the workshop. The monograph celebrates the contributions of dozens of
professional societies to undergraduate education. In particular, it highlights SICB
scholarships for undergraduate students, the educational workshop at the 1998 SICB
meeting, and the videotape, Cryptic Fauna of Marine Sand, co-produced by SICB and the
Susan Cook, SICB's past Educational Council chair, and Diane Nelson, also an SICB
member, are profiled for their professional collaboration to improve undergraduate
teaching. An essay, "Bridging Science and Science Education: One Scholar's
Journey," contributed by Jay Labov, is also featured in the monograph. This new,
87-page monograph can be read at and downloaded from the CELS web site, http://www.wisc.edu/cels. The web site also posts
information for ordering bound copies of the monograph.
The importance of the introductory biology courses in serving the vast majority of U.S.
college students was emphasized. Participants encouraged CELS to showcase its
"Issues-Based Framework for Bio 101" at the annual meetings of a variety of
professional societies. A curricular framework that strives toward biological literacy,
the "Issues-Based Framework for Bio 101" serves as a starting point for
articulating critical components to which all students should be introduced.
Jay Labov, a member of the SICB Educational Council as well as the CELS Steering and
Operating Committees, invites SICB members to not only review and modify the wording of
the "Issues-Based Framework for Bio 101," but to also contribute curricular
materials based on distinctive disciplines. The framework can be found on the CELS web
site at www.wisc.edu/cels and is contained within
the CELS monograph, Professional Societies and the Faculty Scholar: Promoting Scholarship
and Learning in the Life Sciences. Submissions should be directed to Dr. Louise W. Liao,
CELS program director, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. CELS is considering a coordinating role
for a traveling display of biological and curricular materials that can be exhibited by
the educational councils of various professional societies at their annual meetings. The
materials could be drawn from the expertise of many professional societies and give
coherence to the diverse topics in biology.
Brian Tsukimura, Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Chair
1998 Annual Report
The mission of the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee (SPDAC) is to organize events at
the SICB Annual Meeting that foster the professional development of students and postdocs,
and to communicate their needs to the Society. During the past year, I believe that we
have further increased the concern and participation of the students and postdocs within
Willy Bemis, SICB program officer, welcomed the "first timers" and gave a brief
history of SICB. Program highlights and the importance of students and postdocs to the
Society were stressed. Our "survival guide," which details the SPDAC events
(including the career program, research scholarships, housing assistance, etc.), free food
opportunities, and nearby cheap eateries was also introduced. Tips on getting the most of
out of the meeting were discussed. We organized ourselves into breakout groups to identify
the most important things to accomplish at this meeting. Two objectives were common
amongst all groups: 1) getting the newest information, and 2) making connections. We also
introduced the members of the SPDAC, and indicated that these individuals are willing to
represent concerns to our committee, as well as to divisional officers. Seventy-six people
attended this event.
This year's workshop topic was "Getting Started", which included discussions of
the unexpected hurdles encountered in: finding Ph.D. programs; finding a postdoc; finding
a job; and projecting an image to prospective employers. These topics were covered by 11
faculty, two postdocs and two graduate students, including Tim Bradley, Andy Cameron, Ken
Dial, Bob Full, Mike Hadfield, Peter Hochachka, Gretchen Hoffmann, Kevin Kelley, Rosemary
Knapp, Laurence Lamarcq, Don Levitan, Linda Mantel, Valerie Pierce, and students Marcelo
Sanchez and Adam Summers. We again employed breakout sessions to increase the personal
interaction of our faculty mentors with the students and postdocs. In some of the
sessions, pairs of mentors teamed up to provide a point/counterpoint for a number of
issues. The use of rotating breakout sessions was continued from last years meeting and
appeared to be successful in developing a stronger mentor/mentee relationship. Many of the
discussions were continued into the evening's party. One hundred and twenty people
attended the workshop.
This event, attended by 250 people, provided a venue to introduce the members of the
committee and to discuss the needs of the students and postdocs. We used this venue to
introduce the members of the committee and to advertise the workshop. The mentors from the
workshop were invited to attend and integrated themselves amongst the attendees to further
continue discussions from the workshop. At this meeting, the students suggested that the
schedule of the meeting's events be reorganized to allow for less conflict of many SICB
events. Included in this was to move the Joint Divisional Social one night later to allow
the participants to hear the Past-Presidential Address and to attend the SPDAC Workshop
and SPDAC Party.
I wish to thank all the committee members and to recognize the members whose terms
ended this past year. Thanks again for all your productive input and insights that has
made our past year a success: Michelle Duval, Miriam Ashley-Ross and Adam Summers. In
addition, I wish to welcome the new committee members: Clair Balint, Tamatha Barbeau, Dale
Ritter and Shea Tuberty.
1999 SICB Annual Meeting
"First Timer" Orientation
Wednesday, January 6, 5:30-6:15 p.m.
Thursday, January 7, 11:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m.
Friday, January 8, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Friday, January 8, 9:00-11:00 p.m.