This Newsletter by Section
In the spring of 1999, an SICB task force received input from the societys student and postdoctoral (S/PD) members who expressed major concerns about their professional futures. Landing a job and/or a grant were principal issues and both seem to be more pressing for new scientists in todays market than they were in previous decades. What can new scientists do to improve their success? What should they do to break into the "faculty circle"? How can they break into the "funded circle"? What suggestions do long-term established investigators suggest? Also important, what is suggested by younger scientists who have successfully broken into these circles? With the above issues in mind, the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee has planned the following two strategies workshops for the Atlanta meeting, January 4-8, 2000. Panel participants for each topic (I.A-I.C. & II.A-II.C) are SICB members who are particularly well qualified to present the subject material. The fourth period in each workshop provides S/PD members the opportunity to interact directly with the panel members.
I. Strategies for Landing the Academic Job
II. Strategies for Landing the Research Grant
Atlanta 2000 -- SICB Annual Meeting
See you there!
Grants-in-Aid of Research
Beginning in 1996, the Student Support Committee (SSC) has awarded small grants to support research in integrative and comparative biology. Awards (maximum of $1,000) are limited to graduate students currently enrolled in degree programs. Students must be active members of SICB, and the award must be spent in direct support of the proposed study (no stipends, equipment purchases or indirect costs allowed). Students may only receive a Grants-in-Aid (GIA) award once.
During 1998, 51 applications were submitted. The SSC reviewed these at the Denver meeting and made 11 awards (totaling $7,500) to students from eight different divisions of SICB. The members of SSC were genuinely impressed with the high quality all of the applications. We offer our congratulations to the successful award recipients and our appreciation for the efforts of the other applicants.
In the coming year, the awards made by this program will increase substantially (to $12,000), and the SSC encourages all SICB graduate student members to apply. The deadline for applications is November 15, 1999. Application instructions and forms can be obtained from the following Web site: http://lilt.ilstu.edu/sicb/ssc.htm .
Applications and letters of reference should be submitted electronically (Borst-SICB@mail.ilstu.edu). The proposal should be written by the student, preferably with the advice of their major professor. However, the major professor should not do a substantial part of the writing, since this will defeat an important part of the process.
The committee offers the following suggestions for applicants. Since the amount of space is limited, make the main points describing your proposed study as clearly and concisely as you can in your first paragraph. A second paragraph can then be used to describe the methods that will be employed. References should be indicated, but use them sparingly. Include the authors names (rather than a number) in the narrative. Ask for funding of items that will contribute directly to the success of your work. Routine things that are only generally supportive of the work are unlikely to be given high priority. Proofread the application before you submit it. Maintaining professional standards in writing helps establish your credibility. Unfortunately, the SSC is unable to provide feedback to applicants concerning their individual proposals.
Student Travel Awards
Every student who applied (165) received some level of support for their attendance of the Denver meeting, either reduced registration expenses or hotel accommodations. The total value of the support was $17,000. Students who failed to request travel support when they submitted their abstract should apply directly to Dave Borst (Borst-SICB@mail.ilstu.edu) by November 15, 1999. These requests will be supported if funds are still available.
The SSC thanks the SICB staff for their help in supporting these activities. The activities of the SCC are supported in part by the generous bequest of Charlotte Magnum.
The Public Affairs Committee is completing another successful year of communicating the activities and mission of SICB to the public. Our committee has scheduled several media-related events for the upcoming SICB Annual Meeting in Atlanta. The committee will tentatively host Natalie Pawelski of CNN for the annual media workshop, entitled "Communicating Science to the Media," to be held on Friday, January 7 at 3:30 p.m. Natalie is a writer, producer and host of the CNN show "Earth Matters," CNNs weekly news magazine of environmental issues.
Together with the SICB Educational Council, the Public Affairs Committee will also jointly sponsor this year's panel discussion topic: "The University in the 21st Century" on Friday, January 7 at 1:00 p.m. Participating panelists currently include Carolyn Raffensperger of the Science and Environmental Health Network, Jane Maienschein representing American Women in Science and at least one other to be named.
Our committee will also be hosting a media reception on the opening night of the meeting to provide information to attending media representatives and allow symposium organizers to present the contents of their symposia first hand. We encourage all symposium organizers to plan to attend this reception.
The Public Affairs Committee will be advertising the SICB meeting this fall in the pages of several journals including Science, Invertebrate Biology, BioScience, Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology, Brain, Behavior and Evolution and Biological Bulletin.
In anticipation of the Annual Meeting in 2001, members of the Public Affairs Committee are in the process of working with a selection committee to choose a recipient the first annual Science Communicators Prize. The award winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a plaque from the society at the 2001 meeting awards banquet in honor of their contribution to communicating science to the public. Finally, our committee has continued to post "alerts" to the SICB membership throughout this year to keep them informed of upcoming legislation and other events of importance to the SICB membership.
John Pilger, Educational Council Chair
The Educational Council was very busy this past spring and summer putting together the Task Force Report on Education. We thank the many members who responded to our questionnaire. Many valuable suggestions were brought to us, and we gained a better sense of SICB member wishes about the role of the Educational Council in the society. You can read the strategic plan that includes a summary of the Task Force Report on Education at http://pondside.uchicago.edu/~feder/SICB/stratplan8-7.html. I want to thank each member of the Educational Council as well as Rosemary Knapp for their participation in the process.
The Task Force report culminated in a strategic planning session held in Chicago in July. Although our report might be described as ambitious and visionary, it was in line with the other Task Force Reports in that it identified many ways in which the Council can contribute to the well-being of the society and the enrichment of SICB members. The strategic planning groups recommendations on the Task Force initiatives will go to the Executive Committee for discussion and vote at its meeting in Atlanta.
The action plan that will turn the education initiatives into real programs will require some new funding and the help of many energetic people. We welcome contact with members who are interested in science education and are always interested in hearing from those who are willing to share their energy and enthusiasm by serving on the Council. If you would like to serve, please contact me and tell me about the talents that you would like to bring to the Council.
At the Atlanta meeting of the society, the Educational Council will co-sponsor a panel discussion with the Public Affairs Committee. The title is "The University of the 21st Century." Linda Mantel from the Educational Council and members of the Public Affairs Committee have assembled an impressive list of panel members to stimulate provocative discussion about the future of science education and research in academic settings. The session is scheduled for January 7 from 1-3 p.m.
As you know, all contributed papers are being organized by topic this year instead of by division. We hope that this will make it easier for you to find science education papers in the meeting program and facilitate your attendance. There was much interest in education papers last year. Attendance was terrific, and the discussion afterward was enthusiastic and stimulating. We look forward to seeing you at these sessions in Atlanta so that we can continue to grow our educational network.
At our business meeting in Atlanta we will discuss the implementation of the Task Force initiatives and the proposals that have been submitted for symposia at the Chicago meeting. We welcome visitors. Check the program for meeting place and time.
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The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology