Message from the President
Sarah A. Woodin
I hope all of you enjoyed the meeting in San Diego. As we have come to expect from SICB annual meetings, the symposia, contributed sessions and poster sessions were superb and diverse and stimulated considerable debate that went on into the night and sent many of us back home to try new techniques or experiments. The next meeting is in Orlando in 2006 and the following meeting is in Phoenix in 2007 with San Antonio in 2008. We had hoped to go to Mexico in 2007 but that was not possible and we owe a debt to Sue Burk, and her staff for finding an alternative at short notice. The meeting in San Diego again had approximately 1500 registered attendees (1459 versus 1529 in New Orleans) with almost one-half of the speakers graduate students and post-docs who hopefully will stay with us for years to come. Kate Loudon and the Division Program Officers did a superb job organizing the meeting and we owe them all a huge debt of gratitude for their expenditure of time and energy.
Several very important items were initiated during the meeting to which I wish to draw your attention. First, the strategic plan initially drafted during the term of Marvalee Wake as President was approved-look at it on the SICB webpage. Second, we finally resolved the issue of Abstracts. For years they have been published in the society's journal, often delaying that issue and causing other problems. The Abstract Book itself is huge and awkward to carry at the meeting but necessary since the Program is imbedded in it. For 2006 and the future the Executive Committee has decided that the Abstract Book and the Program Book will be published separately. The Abstract Book will be downloadable from the web prior to the meeting and you will receive it as a CD with your registration materials. If you wish a printed copy, you can request that at the time of pre-registration for the meeting at additional cost. The Program Book will also be downloadable from the website prior to the meeting plus you will receive a printed copy with your registration materials at the meeting. We will do what is necessary to continue to make the Abstracts citable documents. Third, we resolved to issue a request for bids to a number of publishers as well as to Allen Press, our longtime printer, to begin the process of evaluating whether we should change from using a printer to using a publisher. You should all have received an email message from me giving the specifications on this action and several of you have provided useful feedback. Those bids are due within several weeks at which point the committee tasked with evaluating them (myself, SICB Treasurer Ron Dimock, SICB Executive Director Brett Burk, Editorial Board member Dave Borst, and SICB President-Elect John Pearse) will begin discussions. As this unfolds we will continue to keep you the membership informed both via the website and via email. Clearly it is the meeting which drives the knowledge property that we sell via the journal and it is important that the journal continue its tradition of quality and wide readership and access.
An important component of SICB for years, the Education Council has been revitalized through the Digital Library initiative started by Trish Morse and tied to the BENN Library of AAAS. The first SICB component is on biomechanics and will soon to be up and running on the SICB website, see their report for details and future plans. Additionally the Conservation Committee has been revitalized and has plans to become a force at the meetings in the near future.
SICB has a long and distinguished history as an advocate for diversity while women were becoming established as scientists. Through the efforts of Dianna Padilla and Flo Thomas and later Zoe Eppley and Margaret Rubega and Bobby Espinoza and others and with initial funding from NSF, the Diversity Committee was established as an ad hoc committee to do a series of pilot studies on increasing the minority representation at SICB. Those pilots have been quite successful and there will be a vote to establish the Diversity Committee as a standing committee of SICB and hopefully further those efforts.
Finally, SICB prides itself on nurturing young scientists, making the meeting accessible financially as well as emotionally. One of the principal means by which we do this is by providing significant reductions in housing and registration. Meeting costs however are increasing and the demand for such aid has also increased very significantly, tripling our costs in this area over the past four years. As a result at the Orlando meeting we will continue to provide housing for students who spend time being assistants at the meeting but with a co-pay of $75 or less. I would be remiss if I did not especially thank Brian Tsukimura and the Student Support Committee for their dedicated hard work reviewing many proposals (another record) for grants-in-aid of research and travel for graduate students. SICB hopes to continue to expand its support of young members of the Society, nurturing integrative and comparative biology for generations to come. To aid this, there is an easily accessible "donate" button on the website. Support of students in SICB depends almost entirely on such sources of funds; so, please give generously and often!
I think all of us who were at the San Diego meeting would agree that SICB continues to be a vibrant intellectual force where discussions occur across the breadth and depth of biology. I look forward to seeing you all in Orlando in January 2006 and I want to thank again all the members from now Past-President John Wingfield and Past-Past-President Marvalee Wake and Treasurer Ron Dimock and Editor John Edwards to all the others who labor for the Society both at the meeting and during year to make SICB what it is.