is my final report to you in the SICB Newsletter. It has been my privilege to
serve as President, and to meet and interact with so many of you. I hope my
service has left SICB as a stronger and more capable organization to serve your
needs as integrative and comparative biologists, and a more visible
representative of our community to the scientific community at large. Marvalee
Wake, of the University of California at Berkeley, will become President at the
end of the Chicago meeting; please welcome and support her. Kimberly Smith
will also step down as Treasurer in Chicago, and will be succeeded by Ron
Dimock of Wake Forest Univ. Kimberly leaves as his most obvious legacy the
'free drink ticket' at the annual meeting, but has had a major but less visible
impact on the operations of SICB. Our robust financial state is due in no
small part to him. I also congratulate the winners of our Spring elections,
who will take office towards the close of the Chicago meeting: President-Elect
John Wingfield (Univ. of Washington, Seattle); Program Officer-Elect, Stacia
Sower (Univ. of New Hampshire), Member-at-large, Dianna Padilla (SUNY Stony
Brook); Education Council Chair, Wendy Ryan (Kutztown Univ., PA).
SICB undertook strategic planning in the summer of 1999, one immediate
conclusion was that SICB needed to have a somewhat larger membership to
function effectively, which led us to ask how to increase our membership. The
primary answer, as usual, is to continue to host an annual meeting of great
scientific and educational interest and with enormous professional value to
full members, postdocs, and students. Elsewhere in this newsletter you'll see
that our Program Officer, John Pearse, has again risen to this challenge. Our
2001 Annual Meeting in Chicago will include 15 symposia or special programs, an
opening presentation by paleontologist Paul Sereno and Alan Kohn's
Past-Presidential Address, a 'town meeting' on teaching of evolution, new and
improved social events, and our usual program of oral communications, poster
sessions, and Divisional meetings. For the first time, some of these events -
especially those that reach out to new members - will be supported by a special
'Program Innovation Fund' we have established.
even a superb annual meeting may not be enough. Indeed, another recommendation
of the strategic plan was that we establish a greatly expanded electronic
presence -- a 'bio-portal'. We are a society of more than 2000 individuals
with enormous expertise in all manner of research techniques, organisms,
comparative databases, educational techniques and approaches, sources of
funding, etc. Many of us are students looking postdoctoral mentors, postdocs
looking for jobs, or faculty looking for students, postdocs, and colleagues.
All of us, from time to time, either seek or are responsive to collaborators.
Our problem is that, except by word of mouth or by chance encounters at our
annual meeting, it is often difficult to access the treasure trove of expertise
and opportunity that the SICB membership represents. The bio-portal may solve
this problem. It is an expanded version of our website in which SICB members
may enter their expertise, wants, and needs; the result can be searched by
anyone who points to the site. For example, if you want to know something
about use of strain gauges, copepod systematics, or design of PCR primers, you
will be able to use the portal to locate members with this expertise. If you
want to find animations useful in teaching muscle physiology or evolution, the
portal would lead you to these. The incentive to join SICB is that, while
anybody can search the portal, only SICB members would be eligible to enter
their own information in the portal to be searched. Please take time to visit
the portal and enter your own information, wants, and needs. For browsing, the
entry point is now the same as our old SICB home page, http://www.sicb.org
. To begin
your personal entry on research expertise, help wanted, or position(s) sought,
point to http://sicb.org/submitportal.php3
You will need your SICB member number to validate the entry; this can be found
in any email from SICB Headquarters. To enter an educational link, either your
own or others', point to http://sicb.org/educators/submitedulink.php3
Obviously, this database will require you to enter information for it to
become valuable to yourself and others, so please proceed to do so.
target of opportunity is our society's journal, presently known as
As our Treasurer, Kimberly Smith, is fond of reminding us, institutional
subscriptions to this journal are a major source of revenue and underwrite
everything else SICB does (including our annual meeting). Making the journal
more valuable to our institutional subscribers comes back to help us. Almost
two years ago John Edwards and a consortium of colleagues at the University of
Washington began to edit the journal. They faced several problems in mastering
the mechanical aspects of producing the journal, which we hope are now behind
us. The publication of SICB symposia will likely always be a significant
component of the journal, but the editorial consortium is now turning its
attention to prospective additional components: reviews, opinion pieces, etc.
As I write, they are in the process of developing a plan to bring these
additional components to fruition. Please feel free to offer John your advice
another aspect is the name of the journal itself,
Some feel strongly that this name enjoys excellent (and well-deserved)
recognition and should be not be changed, and others find 'Zoologist'
old-fashioned and exclusive of integrative and comparative biologists who work
on organisms other than animals. In many ways, this debate recapitulates a
debate of several years ago on the name of the society. Our various
publication advisory boards have themselves debated this issue for several
years now without closure. Technically, the name of the society's journal is
specified in its constitution, which means the constitution must be amended to
change the name of the journal, which requires a vote of the membership. Your
Executive Committee has decided that this technicality represents an
opportunity for the entire membership to express its feelings on the name of
the journal. In January, the Executive Committee will decide on the best
alternative title to be placed before the membership, and then a vote will be
taken by mail. In the meantime, if you have a pet name you'd like considered
("Integrative and Comparative Biology", "Journal of Integrative and Comparative
Biology", and "Journal Formerly Known as American Zoologist" have already been
suggested), please contact SICB Headquarters.
the most direct way to increase the membership is for you to recruit new
members. I ask you actively to recruit your colleagues, mentors, and trainees
to SICB. SICB has implemented several new policies that we hope will make this
have reduced the more expensive dues categories by about 10% for 2001. The new
lower dues rates are at https://secure.aibs.org/sicbmembers2001/membership.asp .
continue to offer a $35 reward for each new full member recruited.
years we have charged non-members extra to register for the annual meeting.
This year we'll charge non-members the same amount as members plus one year's
dues. Thus, any nonmember who attends our annual meeting will automatically
become a member for one year (and hopefully more). If you'd like to recruit
members, just convince your prospects to attend the Chicago meeting; they'll
automatically become members.
appointed a new membership committee: Al Bennett (chair), George Lauder, and
Kathy Packard. Contact them for help and/or advice.
of you may be reticent to recruit new members because you're not quite certain
how to rebut some of the more common non-member responses. Far be it from me
to put words in your mouth, but:
they say: "SICB is a society in trouble."
should say: SICB has withstood the challenges of the last decade and now enjoys
considerable financial and intellectual health. Even our newest members will
have heard tales of a time, now nearly a decade ago, when SICB nearly went
bankrupt, assessed every member $200, and increased all membership costs
precipitously. This was the last straw for many members, who quit SICB.
Others may have quit because they believed that integrative and comparative
biology was passé or out of favor at academic institutions or with
funding agencies. In this decade, both molecular biology and environmental
biology are turning to integrative and comparative biology for answers in such
areas as functional genomics and global climate change. Indeed, our annual
meeting has been featured in
during the past few years, and support for the research and educational
activities of our membership continues to expand at federal funding agencies.
Our newest Division, Evolutionary Developmental Biology, is a scientific
'rising star.' As for the financial crisis, we now have more than $1,000,000
in the bank. But financial actions speak louder than words: we have deceased
the meeting registration fee, abolished the abstract fee, and will reduce the
dues rate for full members in 2001.
they say: "SICB is too expensive to join."
should say: During last year's strategic planning we compared our dues and
fees with those of other societies, and discovered that ours were in fact
relatively expensive--for the following reason: In the midst of the legendary
'financial crisis', SICB (or actually ASZ) had no alternative but to increase
the costs of membership and registration. SICB then paid its debts, but needed
to accumulate some buffer against future problems and so did not roll back
costs. We have now accumulated this buffer and signed on with a much less
expensive management company. This allowed us to reduce meeting registration
costs in 2000, eliminate abstract fees for 2001 (Chicago), and roll back dues
for 2001. These costs are now in line with or less expensive than those for
other societies with which we compare ourselves.
they say: "It's STILL too expensive to belong to SICB and to attend the
meeting. Shouldn't costs be cut still further?"
should say: We could indeed cut costs further, but not without losing some
things members say they want. For example, we have an extremely generous cost
structure for graduate student members. Dues and meeting registration are
trivial ($37 and $70, respectively), and we provide financial aid to EVERY
graduate student member who submits an abstract and requests it. We hear from
non-student members that these programs are so important that they'd rather pay
higher fees than cut back on the programs [If this is not true, we need to
know.]. Another example is that we hold our meetings at convention hotels. We
could move to less expensive university campuses, but only by changing the time
of our meeting to the summer. [By the way, our recent poll tells us that just
as many members could attend an end-July to early August meeting as an early
January meeting; we will need to consider this very carefully!]. Also, members
say they actually enjoy and prefer the amenities of convention hotels.
they say: "The Annual Meeting no longer attracts those I MUST interact with at
a meeting and, while I like the Annual Meeting, I have to give priority to
should say: SICB is a diverse society and, for many Divisions, our annual
meeting is THE major and must-attend meeting of the year. For others, there
are numerous alternative meetings, some of which can be more essential. But,
let's not forget two important features of our Annual Meeting. First, it is
diverse, and diversity is a real asset. People with very diverse backgrounds
and interests attend, and can provide truly diverse perspectives, advice, and
findings of great benefit to those who attend. As one member told me during
the past year: "I go to SICB meetings because there I get more good new ideas
for research projects than anywhere else." Second, the SICB meeting is NOT a
top-down-run meeting in which a small program committee chooses a favored few
for platform presentations, with the remainder relegated to a poster
meat-market. All members are welcome both to present and to choose the way in
which they will present. The members control the meeting, and the members are
welcome if not encouraged to implement program innovations. If you want to
create a symposium, workshop, or special program involving those with whom you
"must" interact, chances are that SICB will permit you to do so if not
I thank you for your help and advice during my presidency and look forward to
welcoming you to Chicago.