HomeVolume Fall 2008

Division of Comparative Biomechanics (DCB): 2008 Fall Newsletter

In this newsletter:

Message from the Chair

Robert Full

The new Division of Comparative Biomechanics continues to grow. We have now surpassed 400 members in only a year and a half.

We look forward to the Boston Meeting. The number of presentation and posters submitted continues to increase. The number of students competing for best paper and poster awards has gone up by 50%. We are particularly excited to support the Symposium "Sensory Biomechanics" organized by Matt McHenry and Sanjay Sane. They have put together an incredible line up of speakers.

Because Boston is one of the world's centers for robot companies that use biological inspiration, I am attempting to arrange tours of iRobot and Boston Dynamics Inc. during our January Meeting. Stay tuned. I encourage all those interested in the intersection of biology and engineering to consider publishing in the new journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics (http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/bioinsp). The journal has recently been included in the ISI Web of Science/Science Citation Index (the Thomson ISI listing).

On the education front, I presented a keynote address to 600 PIs at an NSF and AAAS sponsored meeting of the Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement Program. I discussed how comparative biomechanics laboratories serve as an exceptionally good vehicle for research-based learning. I urge you to take a look at this program for future funding of educational activities (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2008/nsf08546/nsf08546.htm).

I bring to your attention two upcoming conferences:

Society of Experimental Biology

Annual Main Meeting 2009 - SEB Glasgow 2009, Sunday 28 June - Wednesday 1 July 2009, Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow, UK. The SEB is pleased to announce that in 2009 its Annual Main Meeting will return to the state-of-the-art Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in the culture-rich city of Glasgow. Open to members and non-members alike, the meeting will give you the opportunity to attend cutting edge scientific and education sessions as well as the chance to network with a diverse range of biologists from all over the world.

In particular, two sessions are relevant to our division.

General Biomechanics

Dates: 28th - 30th June (morning only on the 30th)

Organised by: Peter Aerts

Contact: Peter Aerts (peter.aerts@ua.ac.be)


The 'general biomechanics session' brings (young) scientists together dealing in their research with the mechanics of the most diverse topics in biology. From insect flight to suspension feeding, from horse locomotion to the mechanics of water transport in plants, from material properties to kinematics of bird flocks, from muscle mechanics to…, all topics find their place in the session which is traditionally attended by a large and broadly interested audience. Moreover, four years ago, they started a new initiative: General Biomechanics Best Poster and Best Presentation prizes (3 for each category). Yet another reason to join them in Glasgow next summer.

Integration of active and passive control mechanisms in locomotion

Dates: 30th June - 1st July (afternoon only on the 30th)

Organised by: Alan Wilson, Monica Daley and Andrew Spence

Contact: Monica Daley (mdaley@rvc.ac.uk)

Speakers include:

Prof T. Richard Nichols (Georgia Tech)

Prof Arthur Prochazka (Centre for Neuroscience, University of Alberta), Tentative title: 'Biomechanical imperatives in the neural control of locomotion'

Prof Auke Ijspeert (Head of the Biologically Inspired Robotics Group, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)), Tentative title: 'Decoding the mechanisms of gait generation and gait transition in salamander using mathematical models and robots'

The American Society of Biomechanics

With over 800 attendees, the 2008 North American Congress on Biomechanics (NACOB) at the University of Michigan was an overwhelming success. Next year Penn State and the American Society of Biomechanics invite all of us to the annual meeting to be held on Penn State's University Park campus from August 26 to 29, 2009. The meeting will feature stimulating scientific sessions, comfortable conference facilities, and various social opportunities in a relaxed, academic setting.

Message from the Program Officer

Frank Fish

It looks like everyone is excited about coming to Boston for the January meeting of SICB. With over 1300 abstracts, the meeting is shaping up to be one of the best and biggest ever. The meeting is set in the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. All the oral sessions, poster sessions, business meetings and socials will be held in the conference hotel. The hotel is a convenient distance from the airport and can be easily reached by either a quick cab ride or the Silver Line. If you take the Silver Line (a bus), it is only a $2.00 fare from the airport. The stop on the Silver Line for the hotel is World Trade Center, which is only a short walk to the hotel. There are also a number of fine restaurants by the waterfront area. In Boston, there are a number of attractions, including the New England Aquarium, Boston Museum of Science, the Boston North End, Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Freedom Trail, the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the U.S.S. Constitution.

The contributed paper sessions begin on Sunday, January 4 and end by noon on Wednesday, January 7. The business meeting for the Division of Comparative Biomechanics (DCB) will be on Tuesday evening and the DCB social will follow immediately after the business meeting. As we did at the last meeting, the social will be shared with the Division of Vertebrate Morphology.

DCB is sponsoring a symposium on the biomechanics of sensory structures that was organized by Matt McHenry and Sanjay Sane. This promises to be an excellent symposium with papers related to a number of levels on the topic, including environment and behavior, sensory organs and cells, and cells and transduction.

If you have ideas for future symposia, please come and meet with me in Boston or contact me by email (ffish@wcupa.edu) to discuss the possibilities and see what opportunities there are for funding both within and outside the society. Some considerations in planning your symposia are that each symposium participant will get a $100 reimbursement toward their registration and each paper published in the journal will be allowed one free color plate.

I look forward to seeing you all in Boston.

Message from the Secretary

Miriam Ashley-Ross

It's shaping up to be a busy meeting in Boston, and a busy year for our Division. Not only is DCB sponsoring a symposium on Sensory Biomechanics, but we have 33 competitors for Best Student Paper! It's a testament to our dynamic and growing division that we have so many up-and-coming graduate student members.

Judges Needed

Because we have so many competitors, we need faculty/postdoc volunteers to judge them. What do the judges do? View the talks/posters to which you are assigned, and evaluate them according to the criteria on the form. Ask the students questions about their research, and encourage them. Why should you volunteer? To start with, you'll be seeing some of the best presentations of the meeting, and talking with enthusiastic young scientists. You'll also be letting them know that their efforts are appreciated and recognized, making it more likely that they'll remain DCB members. In short, it's a win-win situation - if you are willing to help, please contact our divisional chair Bob Full (rjfull@berkeley.edu).

Upcoming Elections and Bylaws Revisions

To get on track for transitioning from the interim officers to our "normal" election schedule (http://www.sicb.org/resources/electionschedule.php3), we will need to hold elections in the Spring for the Chair-Elect and Program Officer. In the Spring newsletter, we'll have short biographical sketches of the candidates, and dates for the actual election. If you are interested in running for one of these offices or wish to nominate someone, please contact members of the divisional nominating committee, Adam Summers (asummers@uci.edu) and Thomas Roberts (Thomas_Roberts@brown.edu), or any member of the divisional Executive Committee.

There will also be some bylaws revisions to bring our divisional bylaws into conformity with the SICB bylaws and constitution. These will be described in the Spring 2009 newsletter and voting will occur later in the spring.