HomeVolume Fall 2008
Message from the Program Officer

Eduardo Rosa-Molinar

¡Saludos from Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment! I hope all of you are doing well. Similar to our historic presidential election, the upcoming 2009 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) Annual Meeting at the Westin Boston Waterfront in Boston, Massachusetts, January 3-7, 2009 promises to be historic and will break SICB records! We received 1363 abstracts (this number includes only symposium and contributed talks and poster presentations), making it the largest SICB meeting ever. There will be two society-wide symposia and eight regular symposia covering a wide range of topics and spanning SICB divisions. Each of these symposia has a full day of speakers and many have additional complimentary oral and poster sessions. We have three workshops (Evolutionary Ontologies, Phylogenetics for Dummies, and Communicating Science).

The Evolutionary Ontologies workshop is organized by Paula Mabee of University of South Dakota, Todd Vision, of National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), Monte Westerfield, of University of Oregon, and Barry Smith, of National Center for Biomedical Ontologies (NCBO). This workshop is to educate and to promote integration of evolutionary biology with genetic, genomic, and developmental data through ontologies. The Phylogenetics for Dummies workshop organized by DSEB will focus on basic techniques and provide an overview of advances in tree reconstruction, analysis of character evolution, phylogenetic comparative methods, data mining of sequence databases for phylogenetic analysis, and much more. The Communicating Science workshop, held by the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), will provide various strategies (i.e., science festivals, science cafés, and blogging) for communicating science to the general public and will also discuss the strategies’ benefits, impact and effectiveness.

The plenary lecture this year will be by Ira Flatow, National Public Radio’s Talk of The Nation: Science Friday, who will kick off events with a presentation emphasizing the importance of public understanding of science. We have also scheduled excellent society-wide lectures such as the Howard Bern lecture and the George A. Bartholomew Award lecture. In addition, we have reinstated the John Alexander Moore lectureship. John A. Moore’s work in the fields of embryology and genetics resulted in his being elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Moore, however, is best known as an educator and his creation of the Science as a Way of Knowing (SAAWOK) series. The Moore lectureship was established in 1990 by the SICB Education Committee. Thomas E. Lovejoy III was the first Moore Lecturer in 1993. For the 2009 SICB meeting the Moore Lecturer is Sean B. Carroll, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

At the 2009 SICB meeting in collaboration with COPUS, we will launch the Understanding Science Web site and its new paradigm for portraying the process of science. Ken Miller of Brown University will join forces with Natalie Kuldell of MIT to officially launch the site. In addition, we will be joining COPUS in launching their Year of Science 2009 celebration and in holding three Science Cafés in surrounding Boston neighborhoods where we will bring cutting-edge science from the 2009 SICB meeting to the Boston public. The Boston community will hear first hand about exciting new developments in science.

The welcoming social, coffee breaks, and the end-of-meeting dessert social in honor of students and post-docs will provide time for interaction and discussions among the membership and visitors.

The headquarters hotel, the Westin Boston Waterfront (http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1528)

is surrounded by all types of attractions, restaurants, nightlife and entertainment. With the exception of the Science Cafés, all events—registration, vendors’ exhibits, posters, society-wide lectures and meetings, and coffee breaks--will be in the hotel. Keep checking the SICB website (http://www.sicb.org) for updates regarding the 2009 meeting.

Every year one of the tasks we have at the programming meeting is to discuss, debate, and choose the symposia and to award divisional financial support for the following year. Congratulations to all of you for your work in organizing the 2009 meeting. I look forward to working with all of you over the next months! For the 2010 SICB meeting in Seattle the approved symposia are

  1. Alexa Bely: Animal Regeneration: Integrating Development, Ecology, and Evolution. Divisional support: DCDB, DDEB, DIZ, DEE, AMS

  2. James M Harper: Metabolism, Life History and Aging. Divisional support: DCPB, DEE

  3. David Lambert: Spiralian development: Conservation and innovation. Divisional support: DCDB, DDEB

  4. Paulyn Cartwright: Assembling the Cnidarian Tree of Life. Divisional support: DIZ, DSEB

  5. James B. McClintock: Advances in Antarctic Marine Biology. Divisional support: DCPB, DIZ, DEE

  6. Melissa Bowlin: Integrative Migration Biology. Divisional support: DAB, DNB, DCE

  7. Sarah Berke: Marine Ecosystem Engineers in a Changing World: Establishing Links Across Systems. Divisional support: DIZ, DEE, AMS

  8. Michael Hart: Evolutionary Paths among Developmental Possibilities: A Symposium Marking the Contributions and Influence of Richard Strathmann. Divisional support: DIZ, DSEB, AMS

  9. Patrick Martone: Mechanics without Muscle: Evolutionary Design of Macrophytes. Divisional support: DCB

  10. Jeff Walker: Contemporary Approaches to the Study of the Evolution of Fish Body Plan and Fin Shape. Divisional support: DVM, DCB, DNB, DEE, DAB

Finally, the SICB Society Executive Officers, Webmaster, Divisional and Associated Societies Program Officers, symposia and workshop organizers, COPUS, specifically Sheri Potter and Natalie Kuldell, Burk & Associates, and I have worked very hard to make the 2009 SICB meeting as productive and engaging as possible. I want to thank all of you for your patience and support during my first year as Program Officer. Any complaints and/or concerns please let me know. It has been an honor and a privilege to have served and worked with you all. We all look forward to seeing you in Boston at the start of the New Year!