HomeVolume Spring 2005
Message from the Program Officer

Catherine Loudon

The 2005 SICB meeting in January in San Diego featured another outstanding set of presentations on diverse topics, and thanks to all of the presenters, symposium organizers, the other members of the Program Committee (the Divisional Program Officers and representatives from other affiliated societies), the SICB webmaster, and the excellent staff of Burk and Associates for making it such a positive experience for so many individuals.

Room size assignments for sessions

While we received many positive comments about the quality of the talks and the poster sessions, as well as the relatively small number of conflicts, there were clearly some mismatches between room sizes and attendance in some of the sessions. In order to improve our predictions for attendance, we did gather data for the first time at the 2005 meeting (head counts were taken by the student workers at different times in the different sessions, for all contributed sessions and symposia) to help us make more accurate guesses for the 2006 meetings. The room assignments are made at the Program Planning meeting (in the fall before the annual meeting) by the full Program Committee after scheduling all of the sessions to minimize scientific overlap as much as possible (there are usually about a dozen simultaneous sessions at all times). The procedure for making the room assignments is to consider all of the simultaneous sessions, sort them in order of estimated attendance, and then pair sessions with the available rooms. In addition we try and put sessions closer to each other (physically) if we expect that attendees may be going back and forth between them. We do intend to make the head counts a regular part of the student worker assignments.

Contributed sessions that are associated with symposia

Another first for the 2005 meeting was that all symposia had the option of associated contributed sessions (both posters and contributed talks). This meant that during abstract submission, a presenter of a contributed talk or poster could choose to be associated with a symposium (the sessions were identified as such in the program). This option was extremely popular with both symposium organizers and presenters, as it allowed a symposium to expand beyond the confines of the small set of invited speakers. We plan to continue this new option for the 2006 meeting.

Changes in Best Student Paper policy

Starting with the 2006 meeting, students who have already received a first place award in any division will be ineligible to compete for another award in any division in that same format (i.e. talk or poster) in subsequent years. For example, an individual who has already won first place for a talk (in any division) could subsequently compete for a poster award in any division but not for a talk in any division. Similarly, a student presentation may only be entered for a single award in a single division at any given meeting (so a poster may be entered for a best poster award in one division and a talk by the same student may be entered for a best talk award in the same or another division at the same meeting, but a single poster may not be simultaneously considered for awards by two different divisions). Divisions are encouraged to include former awardees in judging.

Changes in DCPB, DEE, and DIZ bylaws recommended by the Program Committee

The Program Committee unanimously recommends a change in policy regarding the Best Student Paper award that will necessitate voting by three of the nine SICB divisions (DCPB, DEE, and DIZ). Specifically, the Program Committee recommends that those three divisions eliminate the divisional affiliation requirements that they have for their Best Student Paper awards (this requirement is in the bylaws of these three divisions) because of the difficulties of enforcing such requirements. These are the only three divisions (out of the nine divisions that offer some sort of Best Student Paper award) that have divisional affiliation requirements. Because individuals can register for the meeting after they submit abstracts, new student members (or lapsed student members) are not members of any division when they submit their abstracts, and so a divisional affiliation requirement cannot be required at abstract submission, but must be communicated to the student. At the Program Planning meeting at the beginning of the fall (which occurs immediately after abstract submissions end but before registration ends), all student competitors are scheduled so that individuals competing in any division are not scheduled at the same time (to make it easier for the judges of any division to make all of the talks). Fully 50% of the entries in one large division were subsequently found to be ineligible (either because the students didn't know which division they were in or they did not understand or follow the divisional requirement). The Program Committee would regret the necessity of having to eliminate students from competition because of the divisional affiliation rules, but it is extremely time-consuming to communicate with the network of students, division judges, and division officers to bring everyone into compliance.  Each division does administer its own student award competition, and chooses how many awards, what kind of awards, the amount of the awards, and the criteria for choosing awardees, and this would not change.

SICB 2006 in Orlando and beyond

Looking ahead to the 2006 meeting in Orlando, I am happy to report another set of stimulating and diverse symposia. Please see the SICB website for a list of these symposia. The complete program for the 2006 SICB meeting will be finalized in October 2005 at the annual Program Planning Meeting, which is also when symposia for 2007 will be chosen. Symposia are now planned over a year ahead of time, allowing the symposium organizers time to prepare their symposia and apply for funding. Therefore, it is time to look ahead to our 2007 meeting in Phoenix, and many individuals are already working on symposium or workshop ideas for that meeting. You are encouraged to discuss symposium ideas with your divisional program officers and incoming Program Officer Linda Walters (ljwalter@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu) and submit a symposium proposal (http://sicb.org/meetings/2007/index.php3; deadline August 19, 2005). More information about symposium proposal submission appears on the SICB website.

I look forward to seeing you all in Orlando in January 2006!