Message from the President
Sally Woodin handed over the president's gavel to me (and received an honorary one herself) at the final Executive Committee meeting at the Annual Meeting in Phoenix. She has done a superb job steering SICB forward. The Society continues to thrive. It is especially reassuring to see the infusion of students and postdocs at the annual meeting. This is in no small part due to Sally's leadership in assuring that not only were the meetings intellectually attractive, but also financially affordable to younger colleagues. With so many students and postdocs becoming active members, we can look forward to a most vibrant future.
But Sally's major accomplishment during her presidency was securing a very favorable contract with Oxford University Press to publish our journal, Integrative and Comparative Biology. This was necessary because of the steady erosion of subscriptions to our journal, a major source of revenue for SICB. Working with Brett Burk (SICB Executive Director) and Ron Dimock (our Treasurer), Sally eased the Journal into new territory, with a vigorous new Editor, Hal Heatwole, and an energetic, sensitive staff at Oxford University Press led by Cathy Kennedy. I'm sure you have already enjoyed the stunning layouts of the issues and the timely publication of our symposia. All the papers submitted from the Orlando meeting in 2006 were published in 2006. This was done, of course, by having most of the symposia published in the last issue, which was huge. Starting in 2007, the goal is for all six issues to be published monthly over the last half of the year, with the symposia distributed more evenly among the issues. The difficulty of staggering each year's symposia among well-spaced issues is, well, staggering, and our unusual journal demands creative solutions from our new team. I look forward to working with them over the next two years.
Ron Dimock, will give you some details of the financial health of SICB. In a nutshell, it is nearly all good news. We have a cushion in reserve that has been wisely invested to provide a steady stream of income for the Society's use. Sally allocated a portion of it to our Symposium Support Fund (still looking for a catchy name), and an encouraging number of our members have contributed to this Fund. On the other hand, we need to recognize the cost to the Society of making the meetings affordable to students and postdocs: the subsidies we offer them do have a financial impact on SICB. Presumably, this policy of paying it forward will pay off in the long run as many of these young people move on to full membership.
I also want to commend our Secretary, Lou Burnett, for an outstanding job working through the election process of our multiple officers. Not only had we overlooked elections for some of the offices the past couple of years, but we were not sure who all the officers were at any one time! Now we are. Lou has also been working tirelessly with our very capable webmaster, Ruedi Birenheide, to update and overhaul our website. The results should be evident for all to see within a few months.
Finally, it is a pleasure to be working with Burk and Associates, Inc. Brett capably is keeping me focused with our weekly conference calls of the core officers, expanded monthly to include the journal. Sue Burk and Lori Strong not only have been wonderful in negotiating attractive arrangements for our meetings, but also have ably managed the meetings themselves. We are in very good hands.
In last spring's newsletter I wrote that I intended to focus on four objectives during my term as President: 1) increasing ethnic diversity, 2) increasing the international character of our society, 3) expanding our scope, especially to include more plant scientists, and 4) addressing the re-emergence of faith-based thinking as it encroaches into science and an enlightened worldview. I mentioned this again in the fall newsletter, together with our urgent need to find reliable sources for funding symposia. Suggestions and offers to help were welcomed. Still awaiting both, I also have not moved forward myself on any of these fronts. I trust this inactivity will, over the coming months, prove to have been merely a sort of diapause, and some of you will hear from me soliciting your assistance.