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Division of Invertebrate Zoology (DIZ): 2003 Spring Newsletter

In this newsletter:

Message from the Chair

Thomas Wolcott

Dear Fellow Invertebrophiles:

Once again the annual meetings were a restorative and stimulating break from the usual academic mayhem, and we enjoyed seeing many of you in Toronto. There really is no other society that does the "molecules to organisms" spread as well, and it's always fascinating to see what improbable things other folks have shown to be interesting, and how they all are interconnected! It is because SICB is such a great and useful association that I'm (paradoxically) willing to miss out on some of those useful sessions to help it keep running smoothly. I want SICB to be there for my students for many years to come!

First off, I wish to extend sincere thanks (on my own behalf and that of the DIZ) to Rachel Merz for her 4 years' stewardship of our Division. Rachel graciously extended her tenure as Chair after the loss of our Program Officer, Larry McEdward, 2 years ago. DIZ prospered under her leadership and she was responsible for several innovative initiatives (most recently the joint DIZ/DEE social in Toronto) that have positively affected the division.

In contrast, I have had hardly a neuron to devote to DIZ thus far this semester, for which I apologize. Like many of you, we live in a state with an imploding budget. One consequence is that Donna and I, once we had completed the process of migrating our labs to NCSU's new marine facility and finally became (we thought) productive, were told to pack it all up and move back to campus. My research stuff still languishes in boxes while I write de novo lectures in one of my many areas of ignorance. Soon I'll be into subjects I've covered before, and perhaps then I'll be more useful in this DIZ role.

When notified last fall that I would have the privilege of serving as your new Chair, I went back to see what foolish campaign promises I had made. Among them was an effort to bring invertebrates more into the forefront in biology education. I really would like to bring this toward, if not to, fruition during my tenure. Students at the college level often have no idea how diverse and fascinating inverts are, and still think that the vertebrate paradigms are the whole story. I am acutely aware of this at a land grant university where marine biology tends to mean "fish", and "comparative endocrinology" means that of cows v. pigs, chickens, sheep...

So: my first request is that you share your ideas on what mechanisms would be effective in getting inverts into the limelight. One option might be to provide an "invertebrate lab handbook" on the SICB website. This would be a selection of important physiological, behavioral, and ecological principles, each associated with one or more laboratory/field exercises to teach it using commonly available (i.e., cheap) invertebrates. Ideally the exercises would be presented at several levels (e.g., versions suitable for primary school, high school, and college classes). For example, students may be startled to learn that hemoglobin isn't the only respiratory pigment. Hemocyanin (to compare with Hb) can be easily obtained by collecting garden snails (Helix) rather than importing some marine molluscs or crustaceans. Big snails (or great big slugs; they probably would work too) are so abundant as to be garden pests in some places. They arouse few warm fuzzy feelings, and therefore do not draw the attention of animal rights enthusiasts or IACUC enforcers. They also spare sensitive students some of the angst that can accompany working with live animals in lieu of computer simulations. Please let me know if you think this worth pursuing.

My second request, contingent upon the first, is for outlines of exercises that you use, or would like to use, to teach some important principles. If we can come up with a conceptual framework upon which to array them, then we could turn our attention to producing 3-tier versions that teachers at all levels could download from the DIZ webpage and adapt.

The success of this venture will depend almost entirely upon the DIZ membership's level of enthusiasm and commitment. I recognize that editing an exercise for this purpose, and especially putting one together from scratch, is not a trivial task. I hope that you too feel that it's worthwhile both in terms of enhancing biological education and of increasing the usefulness and visibility of SICB. I eagerly await your suggestions!

Rachel Merz, not content to rest on her laurels as servant of DIZ and guide to the hapless new chair, has gotten the ball rolling in another area dear to my heart: exposure of undergrad/graduate students to coursework and research in the field. Rachel has made it her goal to significantly increase the Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship fund (http://www.sicb.org/grants/hyman/) to support more grants-in-aid. To that end, she is plotting to spice up the New Orleans meetings with a benefit "Invertebrate Auction" during our divisional social (to which well-heeled non-DIZ riff-raff may also be invited). Please seek inspiration about things (art or other evidences of creativity, books, etc.), and perhaps even services, that you'd like to donate for this gala! Past experience suggests that the big bids are drawn by things that are really really nice - or those that are, well, not nice at all (one of the most coveted items at an auction some years back was what might be euphemistically described as a "members-only" poster).

One final note of business, from my last free register: after serving faithfully as your Secretary, Will Jaeckle will be getting some well-deserved respite. We have a hotly-contested election for his replacement, and I urge you to review the candidate's credentials (placement of apostrophe based on latest reports from the DIZ Nominating Committee--Judith Williams, Ken Sebens, and Joe Pawlik--whom I thank for their service).

Please encourage your colleagues and students to become members of SICB and DIZ; our Division can only remain vigorous with continued infusion of new members. I wish you all a glorious second half of the spring semester, and a satisfying and productive summer. At the SICB abstract submission deadline, may yours be about things you have already discovered, not things you are still hoping will work before the end of the season!

Message from the Secretary

Will Jaeckle

Our 2003 meeting in Toronto was a tremendous success and we can look forward to exchanging our winter coats for some thing a little less protective when we reassemble in New Orleans for the 2004 meeting. Special thanks are extended to Sara Lindsay for smoothly coordinating the judging of student presentations (see her section in this newsletter). By all measures the joint DIZ/DEE social was a smashing success. Since members of both divisions share a curiosity about invertebrate animals, this divisional pairing was a natural extension of our common interests.

Although my attempts failed this year, I will be working towards the development of a webpage (or portion of a webpage) where we can post our course announcements, summer research programs, scholarships, etc. Hopefully it will be in place before the publication of the Fall newsletter. If anyone has suggestions of other items that should be included in this venue, please contact me. Further, if there are items that you feel should be distributed to the constituency of our division, please contact me and I will act to facilitate the distribution of the information to our membership.

Finally, I would like to extend a personal thank you to Rachel Merz for her assistance in getting me "up to speed" with the workings of our Division and her patience when working with a sometimes recalcitrant communicator.

Message from the Program Officer

Penny Barnes

The Division of Invertebrate Zoology was well represented in both oral and poster presentations at the SICB Annual Meeting in Toronto. The DIZ Social was well attended and deemed a success. Congratulations to all who worked hard to make the 2003 meeting a success!

Those of you who have checked the SICB website recently will know that we have two exciting symposia scheduled for the New Orleans 2004 meeting. "Model Systems for the Basal Metazoa: Cnidarians, Ctenophores, and Placozoans" organized by Neil Blackstone and "Sponges: New views of old animals" organized by Scott Nichols and Gert Woerheide. In addition, DIZ and DCE are co-sponsoring "Ecophysiology and Conservation: The contribution of Endocrinology and Immunology". So, the New Orleans meeting promises to be exciting for DIZ.

Now is the time for all of you considering symposia topics for the San Diego meeting to develop your ideas and send me an email. The Call for Symposia for the 2005 Meeting in San Diego is posted on the SICB website and I encourage you to refer to this for guidelines. Remember that the deadline for receipt of symposium proposals is August 15, 2003! The Program Officers will meet in fall 2003 to finalize the symposia for the 2005 meeting.

Finally, I need your input on an issue discussed at the Program Officer's meeting in Toronto. This issue is the need to review, and potentially revise, the list of keywords available when submitting an SICB abstract. Some of you have expressed concern that you have been unable to locate keywords of choice, resulting in selection of less-than-optimal keywords that do not accurately represent the research to be presented. Remember that your choice of keywords is important and that the Program Officers may refer to the keywords when determining where best to place a presentation in the meeting program. The DIZ membership represents a remarkable diversity of research fields and we need to ensure that the list of keywords spans this diversity. Please review the list of keywords available and send any suggestions, regarding additions or deletions, to me at your earliest convenience. Also, as I have noted before, your general comments relating to the format and schedule of the Annual Meeting are welcome. Please contact me via email at barnesp@naos.si.edu.

Message from the Graduate Student-Postdoctoral Affairs Committee

Ben Miner

Hello fellow students. The Toronto meeting is behind us, and I would like to extend the Division's thanks to all the graduate students who worked to make this meeting such a success. In particular, the workshop "How to get a job; views from inside the search committee" was excellent, and we hope to provide yet another excellent workshop at the next meetings. I would also like to congratulate Constance Rogers for her award of a SICB grant-in-aid of research and DIZ's Best Student Poster presentation. Jonathan Cohen is also to be congratulated for being recognized for delivering DIZ's Best Student Oral Presentation and earning the Adrian Wenner Strong Inference Award. I encourage all undergraduate, graduate, and recently post-graduate (< 1 year) students to enter these competitions in 2004.

SICB continues the trend of alternating between warm and cold locations for the annual meetings. The next meetings will be held in New Orleans January 4-8 2004, so you don't want to miss it! To ensure SICB continues to consider the needs of graduate students, I encourage comments and suggestions for improving future meetings. Please email suggestions to me at miner@zoo.ufl.edu.

Good luck with your studies and research!

Message from the Student Awards Committee Chair

Sara Lindsay

Thank you to all of those who judged student presentations at the Toronto meeting. Ten students competed in the DIZ student paper competition this year, with topics ranging from the evolution of plasticity to the biomechanics of fatal constipation in a brooding sea squirt. All the students did a very good job, and I will be forwarding judges' comments to them soon. Constance Rogers won the Best Student Poster for her presentation, "Acquired resistance of bluegill sunfish Lepomis macrochirus to ectoparasitic glochidia larvae of Utterbackia imbecillis". Jonathan Cohen's oral presentation, "Photoresponses of the copepod Calanopia americana involved in diel vertical migration", was recognized as the Best Student Oral Presentation. Jonathan is also the winner of the Adrian Wenner Strong Inference Award. Congratulations! Students should learn more details about their awards from DIZ president Tom Wolcott soon. We look forward to seeing more outstanding student presentations next year in New Orleans!

Minutes of the 2002 Annual Business Meeting

Rachel Merz (DIZ Chair) opened the meeting with information on the state of SICB and reported that our society will remain financially sound as long as membership and subscription rate remain high. In what might be viewed as a testament of our financial heath, she reported that each division has access to "extra" monies that may be allocated in any way that the division deems appropriate. SICB's meeting venues for the next few years were reported as follows: New Orleans (2004), San Diego (2005), and Washington DC (2006). Rachel requested suggestions for future meeting sites.

From earlier meeting Rachel reported that SICB is in the process of reevaluating their by-laws to place them in accordance with current practices and changes in policy. In the future, the society will send to us the original text and proposed changes, and summary of those changes for our examination. She also noted that there was significant discussion of the process by which these changes will be ratified.

Chair Merz then initiated a discussion of DIZ specific issues. The first topic evaluated was the proposed change in the DIZ by-laws in order to establish a process by which an executive commit member who cannot complete their term. Her proposal (previously distributed to the DIZ membership) was ratified. It was further noted that DIZ needs to revaluate its by-laws and propose new changes that reflect the expressed desire that DIZ officers must be members of our division. I was suggested that these changes in our by-laws be posted in the Spring Newsletter.

There are 2 DIZ symposia for the New Orleans meeting. (1) "Model Systems for the Basal Metazoa: Cnidarians, Ctenophores, and Placozoans" organized by Neil Blackstone and (2) "Sponges: New views of old animals" organized by Scott Nichols and Gert Woerheide. If any members have ideas for symposia topics please contact the DIZ Program Officer Penny Barnes.

DIZ members were urged to pay particular attention to any problems related to keyword coding of abstracts. DIZ is probably the most topically scattered division in SICB and anything that we can do to uniquely identify our division's contributions is desired. If you have any suggestions please relate them to the Chair.

Thomas Wolcott was introduced by the Secretary as the Chair-elect and he will be assuming the role of Division Chair at the end of the business meeting.

Sara Lindsay (Chair, Student Awards Committee Chair) reported that 10 poster and oral presentations were under consideration for our student awards and offered her thanks to all members who judged these reports.

Ben Miner (Graduate Student - Postdoctoral Fellow Committee representative) reminded all students and postdoctoral Fellows to attend the GSPFC sponsored program entitled: "Views inside a search committee". At the meeting in 2004 this committee will be producing two important workshops for our younger members. The topics of discussion will be (1) producing a teaching statement and (2) use of new technology in the classroom.

The SICB Executive Committee visited our business meeting and SICB President Marvalee Wake charged our members to volunteer to serve our society. Sara Lindsay relayed to the committee a comment regarding an apparent "topical inconsistency" of the Society's journal. President Wake responded that it was the very nature of this society to have articles of a variety of topics represented in the journal. She further reported that the problems of a backlog in manuscript publication and the inconsistency in the date of publication are largely solved. Rick Harrison noted that SICB's journal is a solid peer-reviewed vehicle to publish symposia proceedings and that, at present, it is difficult to find a publishing outlet for symposia these days.

AMS president Clay Cook reported that the subscriptions to the journal Invertebrate Biology (IB) have decreased. Clay vigorously requested that all that non-subscribing members of DIZ support this journal. Pat Reynolds (IB, Associate Editor) remarked that the manuscript acceptance rate for this journal was 60%.

Amy Johnson reported that there is a need to increase to Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship account in order to increase the number and amount of this scholarship. Rachel Merz suggested that DIZ's excess funds this fiscal year be directed to the scholarship. This proposal was supported by the membership. Rachel further proposed that an "IZ auction" during the next meeting's social (2004) would be a good way to generate funds for the LH account. This idea was enthusiastically supported. So if you have any IZ "gems", art works, reprints, books, etc. that you would like to donate, please contact Rachel. Further, anyone willing to assist in the development of this fund raising vehicle should contact Rachel..

Rick Harrison (Editor, Journal of Morphology) reported that the journal backlog is being reduced from the current state (12 months) to 6 months in 2004. He noted that this journal strives for a 50:50 balance between manuscripts that relate to vertebrate and invertebrate animals.

Diana Padilla relayed to DIZ that the San Diego meeting (2005) will be cosponsored by American Malacological Society and the Western Society of Malacologists. She posed that DIZ members may be interested in producing a Symposium or minisymposium on Molluscs.

Sally Woodin expressed her thanks to Rachel Merz for her excellent custodial ship of DIZ during her 4-year period as our Chair. This sentiment was heartily supported by the members.

Thomas Wolcott (the new Chair) closed the meeting by requesting from DIZ to "let him know what to do, keep bugging him, help deliver the message that "inverts are interesting".

Submitted by WB Jaeckle

Elections: Candidate for DIZ Secretary

Robert (Bob) W. Thacker

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Education: 1990, B.S. (Zoology), Duke University; 1995, Ph.D. (Biology), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Professional Experience: 1995-96, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Guam Marine Laboratory; 1996-98, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Hawaii; 1998-2000, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Guam Marine Laboratory; 2000-present, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham.

SICB Activities: Member and presenter at SICB/ASZ Annual Meetings since 1992. Judge, Best Student Presentation, Division of Ecology and Evolution, 2002, 2003.

Other Memberships: Ecological Society of America, International Society for Reef Studies, Sigma Xi.

Research Interests: Systematics of sponges and their cyanobacterial symbionts. Community ecology of invertebrates associated with marine and freshwater algal blooms. Foraging behavior of crustaceans.

Statement of Goals: After joining SICB as a graduate student, I have continued to attend and present papers at the annual meetings to broaden my perspective across multiple disciplines. As secretary of DIZ, I would seek to enhance interactions among the divisions of SICB, including the sponsorship of symposia that integrate topics of invertebrate physiology, behavior, ecology, and evolution. In addition, I would like to increase awareness of the SICB Grants-in-Aid of Research Program, the Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship, and other forms of student support. Finally, I would also strongly support symposia on career development and mentoring programs.

Link to officer list on DIZ page