HomeVolume Fall 2008

Committee Reports

Committee on Broadening Participation

Patricia Hernandez, Chair

Happy Fall Everyone,

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself and tell you about what is going on with our committee. I am chair of the Broadening Participation Committee. We are actively trying to increase the visibility of our committee, in order to better fulfill our mission. We are charged with increasing the active participation of underrepresented minorities within our society. Thus, we are committed to making the active membership of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology more accurately reflect the current diversity in our world. Although our outreach is aimed at underrepresented groups, we need everyone's help recruiting and getting the word out to these students.

A very big problem we have had is with self-identification. We are eager to track our success in attracting and retaining students from these groups. However, we must have some way of tracking our success. We are fortunate that SICB has recently added a form for self-identification on the membership form. We urge all members to be sure to fill this out since it is very important in allowing us to track our success.

We are looking forward to our meeting in Boston. At the beginning of each of our annual meetings we have a breakfast to welcome members of underrepresented groups. Generally we have a representative from the National Science Foundation there to speak about general funding issues and specific issues for our minority members. If you are a member of an underrepresented group (or have students who are) I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. I certainly want to make sure that I have a current list of students to invite to our breakfast. We are also trying to establish annual workshops to discuss issues relevant to the success of these students. Several years ago we sponsored a workshop that was very well received. By establishing a panel comprised of underrepresented minorities at all stages of their careers (students, postdocs, junior and senior faculty) we were able to show students that it is indeed possible to advance within this chosen career path. In this vein, we are also trying to establish a mentoring program whereby senior graduate students and postdocs could help bring our undergraduate minority students up the ranks.

We realize that the task ahead is a difficult one and that we can not effect immediate change, however we are devising a multi-tiered approach that will assure that we are indeed proceeding toward our eventual goal. We can start working on retention right away. While we certainly have an increasing number of graduate students from underrepresented groups, this does not guarantee that these students will find good postdoctoral positions, get job offers, take jobs, get tenure and remain productive researchers within biology. To this end we are implementing a multipronged approach to broadening participation.

Lastly, while this committee is currently a "temporary" committee, I believe that our charge is important enough to warrant promotion to a permanent committee. While I certainly look forward to a time when this committee is not necessary, I believe that at this point we really need a concerted effort to increase diversity within SICB. I hope that you will do your part by helping to recruit students from these underrepresented groups and then helping us retain these students by doing whatever possible to help them thrive in their academic lives. I eagerly welcome suggestions from anyone interested in helping out.

Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee

Larry Riley, Chair

Hi everyone. I hope everyone's semester is going well. It is that time of year again; planning for the annual meeting. As you start preparing you presentation and reading through all of the abstract to see which presentations you want to attend, don't forgot about the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee annual workshop. This year's workshop "How to find a postdoc position; how to apply for an academic job" is sure to be highly informative. The committee has assembled a panel of faculty members from different academic institutions (undergraduate serving to Ph.D. granting) who have served on search committees, as well as Ph.D. graduates that have recently secured a post-doc position. Some key points the workshop will focus on: 1) What makes a good research statement and teaching statement?, 2) What points to highlight and include/exclude in your CV, 3) How to approach a postdoc advisor, etc? This is a great forum to gather insight into these processes, so please attend.

I also encourage every first time student to attend the Welcome and Orientation Meeting on the first night of the meeting. This meeting is designed to help you get the most out of the SICB meeting. If you have any questions or concerns please ask your divisional student/post-doc rep. See you all soon.