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Division of Developmental and Cell Biology (DDCB): 2008 Spring Newsletter

Message from the Chair

Karen Crawford


With the start of 2008 the Division of Developmental and Cell Biology is renewed. Scott Gilbert, Swarthmore College, PA, has come aboard as our Program Officer and Jennifer Dearolf, Hendrix College, in Arkansas, has become our new Secretary. Thanks to you both in advance for your service to the division and welcome!

There are two positions on our team that remain open, the Student/Post-Doc Representative and someone willing to serve on the Editorial Board of the journal. My goal is to identify folks within our membership for these positions as soon as possible. I welcome volunteers or suggestions from our membership for these positions.

The meeting in San Antonio was wonderful. The science, venue and accommodations were just terrific. I hope that everyone managed to find the Alamo, admire the horse drawn carriages, stroll the Riverwalk (pleasurable even at half-tide) and enjoy the many exciting talks and posters presented at this meeting. It was wonderful for me to connect with so many of you and I thank everyone for their helpful advice regarding how best to move our division forward.

Planning for the future: At the San Antonio meeting, Alexa Bely, University of Maryland, came forward with some wonderful ideas for a symposium she would like to organize for 2010 on Regeneration. This is just the kind of thing that happens best at our meetings! And what a great way to regenerate the DDCB! Although in the early planning stages, her idea is to create a symposium that integrates the development, evolution and ecology of regeneration, in addition to highlighting recent advances in our understanding of the developmental basis of regeneration across a wide range of animal groups. This symposium topic is ideally placed within our division and promises to be of great interest to many members within SICB. So while we will not have a formal program for the 2009 (Boston) meeting, we should have a great session in 2010.

Well, as my grandmother would say, "Winter's back is broken," spring is around the corner for many and stirring under the snow for most. I hope this finds you well as we all bring academic year 2007-2008 to a frantic close. Please contact us, Scott Gilbert, Jennifer Dearolf or me, with your ideas for the Division of Developmental and Cell Biology.

Message from the Secretary

Jenn Dearolf


Since my name may not be familiar to many of you, let me introduce myself. My name is Jenn Dearolf, and I am an Assistant Professor of Biology at Hendrix College, a small liberal arts college near Little Rock, Arkansas. My primary affiliation with SICB has been the Division of Vertebrate Morphology, since I was a masters student at UNC Wilmington. However, I always checked the box beside the Division of Developmental and Cell Biology in addition to DVM, anytime I was asked to fill out forms by the society. When Karen asked me to serve as secretary for DDCB, I was unsure about how well I could serve. I mean, I have never really been a card-carrying member of DDCB. So, her request forced me to look at the reasons why I checked this division's box.

I found, to my surprise, that my research really focuses on cells, specifically muscle cells (fibers), and that recently, my lab's focus had shifted almost completely towards development. My funded research is a study of the effects of prenatal steroids on breathing muscle development, using guinea pigs as a model. We are looking for changes in fiber-type profile (percentage of fast-twitch fibers) and fiber size. Thus, my and my students' work fits perfectly within DDCB.

You may wonder why I am sharing this personal revelation with you. Well, to help us with the regeneration of DDCB, I am asking you to take a similar hard look at your research. Like me, you may currently characterize yourself as a vertebrate morphologist, an evolutionary biologist, a molecular biologist, or a biomechanist. But, I hope you find, when you look at the work you have been doing that at its core, it is the study of cells, the study of development, or both. If so, please consider submitting an abstract to be considered by our division for next year's meeting in Boston, and encourage your students to do the same.

At the meeting in San Antonio, we did not have any student presentations or posters to judge for the awards for DDCB! And, I know that there are some excellent student research projects out there that should be acknowledged. Having students present in DDCB sessions will breathe new life into our division.

Finally, even if you determine that the divisional home of your research is not DDCB, I ask you to remain active in the division. We need all of the folks that are members of the division to help us make it come alive again. We will take any suggestions you have to make us more visible and more vibrant. Don't just check the box!

Minutes of the January 2008 DEDB/DDCB Business Meeting

Link to officer list on DDCB page