Message from the President,
Alan J. Kohn
SICB begins its second year under a new banner and with a bold mission. We are the only
professional society that fosters advances and facilitates communication among life
scientists working at all levels of biological organization, from molecule to ecosystem,
on all kinds of organisms, and with comparative as well as experimental approaches.
Another banner year has begun for SICB, thanks mainly to the outstanding leadership of
Mike Hadfield and the initiatives implemented during his two years as President. In
addition to the Society's new name, these initiatives include:
- Increasing the sophistication and efficiency of electronic communication via e-mail, the
World Wide Web and the electronic journal Experimental Biology Online.
- Grants-in-Aid of Research program.
- The new journal Integrative Biology: Issues, News, and Reviews, to be published by
Wiley-Liss and distributed to all SICB members free of charge, at least for the first few
- Improvements to the Annual Meeting program thanks to searching reviews by the Program
Advisory Committee chaired by Martin Feder and the efforts of Program Officer Willy Bemis.
- A new Conservation Committee, to coordinate and lead the Society's efforts toward the
conservation of biological diversity.
In the rest of this message, I summarize our plans to advance these new directions
Our new name is not only that; it is facilitating a healthy trend toward thinking,
research and presentations that increasingly integrate multiple levels of biological
organization and cross a broader spectrum of taxa. The SICB 1996 Annual Meeting in
Albuquerque drew more than 700 participants and attracted considerable public recognition.
A substantial article on meeting highlights by Elizabeth Pennisi in the January 17, 1997
issue of Science, headlined "Integrating the Biological Sciences in New Mexico,"
led by stating, "Living up to its new name, the Society for Integrative and
Comparative Biology..." and emphasized the diversity of participants, topics and
habitats of the organisms studied. Albuquerque newspaper coverage of the meeting
emphasized the Public Affairs Committee Panel Discussion entitled, "Water Resource
Issues in the Rio Grande Valley" and included a favorable editorial the day after the
Despite the new name and emphasis, most SICB members are in fact zoologists, and the
proposed rebirth of the International Congress of Zoology announced elsewhere in this
newsletter should be of broad interest.
Our next Annual Meeting will be held in Boston, January 3-7, 1998 and will feature
symposia that will be both more diverse and more integrated. We are developing more
interactions with other societies, and welcome the Ecological Society of America (ESA),
which will meet with us in Boston for the first time in many years. Both the ESA and the
International Society for Reef Studies will join SICB in sponsoring the major symposium on
coral reefs and environmental change. Again we will have a regionally relevant and
important public affairs forum, most likely focusing on the current problems of fish
resources and fisheries of the western North Atlantic. There will be a special session on
late-breaking advances in integrative and comparative biology as well as other innovative
activities being planned by the Program Officer.
We also hope to have the inaugural issue of Integrative Biology: Issues, News, and
Reviews available for you at the Boston meeting. At all recent Annual Meetings, we have
been able to provide hotel accommodation to all graduate student members who present
papers or posters and are willing to provide a few hours of help to the staff, and we plan
to continue this practice at Boston. It will be a great meeting; don't miss it!
In the Fall 1996 SICB Newsletter, President Hadfield described the long-range planning
(LRP) meeting held last summer in Chicago. In Albuquerque, the Executive Committee voted
to adopt the recommendations from that meeting. Some of these recommendations require
amendments to our Constitution, so Executive Director Laura Jungen, Administrative Manager
Pam D'Argo and I drafted the necessary amendments and presented them at an
"electronic meeting" of the Executive Committee in January. The Executive
Committee voted unanimously in favor of these amendments, which now must come before the
membership for a mail vote. You can find the proposed amendments on page 16, and a ballot
is enclosed with this newsletter.
Here I summarize the effects of these amendments:
Article I, Section 2. The statement of purpose is amended to reflect the change
from ASZ to SICB.
Article II. Membership requirements are simplified. The Associate membership
category is deleted, Full membership is open to those who do not have the doctorate and
paperwork is reduced because new Full Members need not be nominated. In addition, the
Student Member category is no longer restricted to graduate students but is open to
undergraduates, the Postdoctoral Member category is formalized, and the membership
categories are broadened to accommodate the growing number of family members. (The two new
sections were not part of the LRP Report but are housekeeping amendments proposed by the
Article III, Section 5. This section is modified to make it consistent with the
simplified membership requirements of Article II.
Article III, Sections 9-11; Article VI, Section 1; and Article VII, Section 4.
These are minor housekeeping changes in committee titles.
Finally, the changes to the bylaws formalize how the Society has actually operated
during the past several years.
Our Constitution allows two weeks for the return of ballots. Amendments favored by
two-thirds of the members voting will be adopted.
Above, I mentioned the new Conservation Committee. Led by Fraser Shilling, the
committee is leading a major effort to develop a statement that will inform Congress of
biological requirements necessary to ensure that the Endangered Species Act, up for
re-authorization this year, will succeed in accomplishing its goals. The statement is
based on the Conservation Resolution that the Committee drafted last year and that was
approved by 94 percent of voting SICB members. By the time this newsletter goes to press,
I will have asked a number of presidents of relevant societies to join in supporting the
statement and bringing it to the attention of Congress. Led by our Conservation and Public
Affairs Committees, SICB is expanding its interactions with policy makers and with the
Elsewhere in this newsletter, the first awards in the new Grants-in-Aid of Research
program for graduate student research are announced. A special appropriation of $5,000
from Society funds made these initial grants possible. Last fall, Mike Hadfield and I
solicited major donations to the endowment in support of this program from a group of
senior SICB members with histories of commitment to the Society. Thus far, this appeal has
resulted in a welcome addition of more than $15,000 to the endowment. The interest earned
on this amount will be enough to provide at least one additional Grant-in-Aid of Research
in 1997. I hope the endowment will continue to grow, and I encourage your large or small
tax-exempt donation to the Grants-in-Aid program fund (a donation form is included with
Finally, I address the matter of membership. I strongly support the efforts of Past
President Hadfield and the Executive Committee to widen the range of our activities and to
increase the benefits of belonging to SICB for all members, and I plan further
enhancements. Despite the exciting activities of our Society, its membership has been
stagnant or has declined slightly in the past few years. If we are to maintain the level
of benefits, including those I've described here, we must increase our membership. This
must be the responsibility of our current members. I urge each of you to copy and
distribute the enclosed membership application or call the Business Office for a
prospective member packet and use them to recruit at least one colleague and one student
who are not members to join us. We will all profit!
Message from the Program Officer,
The Albuquerque meeting was the first since our name changed from ASZ to SICB. It also
was our last Christmas-week meeting. More than 500 talks and posters were presented in
Albuquerque, including seven symposia, contributed paper sessions for nine of our 10
Divisions, and three newly instituted interdivisional sessions. I was particularly
encouraged by the strong graduate student and postdoctoral presence in Albuquerque, for
these scientists represent the future of SICB, and the future looks very bright. Based on
tabulated meeting evaluations, most participants and attendees enjoyed the Albuquerque
meeting, and I am working to smooth out those programming problems that were brought to my
Now that I have served one year as SICB Program Officer, I can comment with some
perspective on the annual cycle of programming. Much of the routine business of
programming occurs in a more-or-less continuous dialogue with our convention staff at the
SICB Business Office in Chicago. The programming calendar is full throughout the year,
from symposium planning to preparation of the abstract form and guidelines in the spring
to laying out the program grid and abstract processing and scheduling in the fall. Many
groups and individuals are involved directly in the programming process. SICB has 10
Divisions, and usually seven or eight symposia are organized for a typical SICB meeting,
so it is challenging to schedule the scientific sessions to minimize conflicts. Added to
this are all of the other activities that must be accommodated during a meeting. Our
institutional memory stands to benefit by improving the stability of at least one person
very closely associated with the programming process. To remedy this, we are already
planning ways to ease the transition for the next SICB Program Officer so that he/she will
benefit from what I learn during my term.
For example, we adopted four simple and achievable goals for session programming last
year, and will attempt to apply these throughout my term as SICB Program Officer: 1)
reduce the number of incompletely filled sessions; 2) group papers together by some
logical connections; 3) reduce overall number of concurrent sessions; and 4) encourage
interdivisional communications by developing interdivisional sessions.
Added to these session programming goals are important strategic goals of redesigning
our program to reflect our current membership and technological revolutions in
communication. To help open up and demystify the programming process, I have instituted a
new system of quarterly programming reports to keep officers aware of the annual
programming cycle. There also is a clear link between successful meeting programming,
grant funding for symposia and the American Zoologist. To address this, we worked
last year to restore our traditional 18-month lead time for symposium planning, and I am
happy to report that this effort is already on-track for the Denver meeting in 1999. This
year, we expect to further refine our abstract transmittal and scheduling process,
including both paper and electronic submission and improvements in the final production of
the abstract issue of American Zoologist. I also expect to work closely with divisional
Program Officers during the hectic scheduling period in September. To help achieve all of
these goals, many of which were called for in comments transmitted to programmers, the
Executive Committee supported a motion to make this year's abstract deadline Friday,
August 22, 1997.
Turning to plans for our SICB 1998 Annual Meeting in Boston, January 3-7, 1998, I am
delighted that we will again meet in the Marriott Copley Center Hotel, the site of our
very successful centennial meeting in 1989. This is a wonderful meeting hotel because it
offers excellent session rooms as well as easy access to exciting activities in Boston and
Cambridge. I am also very pleased to have the help of three great local co-chairs for the
Boston Meeting: Farish Jenkins, Harvard University, Rich Marsh, Northeastern University,
and Jan Pechenik, Tufts.
We have scheduled nine symposia:
- "Comparative Embryology of Myogenesis"
- "The Evolution of the Steroid/Thyroid/Retinoic Acid Receptor Family"
- "Coral Reefs and Environmental Change - Adaptation, Acclimation or
- "Evolutionary Relationships of Metazoan Phyla: Advances, Problems and
- "Aquatic Organisms, Terrestrial Eggs: Early Development at the Water's Edge"
- "The Compleat Crustacean Biologist: A Symposium Recognizing the Achievements of
Dorothy M. Skinner"
- "Development and Evolutionary Perspectives on Major Transformations in Body
- "Evolutionary Physiology"
- "Origin and Further Evolution of Circulatory Systems"
In addition, a special workshop will be presented entitled, "Comparative Biology
in the Classroom." Information about the workshop and symposia will be distributed
later in the year.
We are planning some wonderful special lectures and expect to finalize a decision about
our traditional end-of-meeting party soon. Also, we will take advantage of our new January
meeting time and Boston venue to have at least one affiliated meeting on January 2. Glenn
Northcutt, Mary Sue Northcutt, Kiisa Nishikawa, Billie Swalla, Steve Zottoli and I will
host the first meeting of the Julia Platt Club as a forum for evolutionary morphology and
development. Further information about the Julia Platt Club will be provided in the
Abstract Transmittal Form and Guidelines mailing this spring. We expect it to be a small
but exciting group, and urge you to consider attending!
Finally, I must mention again how pleased I am about our shift to a regular meeting
time in early January. Many people have called for such a change for many years, and it
has much potential to energize SICB. It is now time for you to begin planning for next
January, for your attendance at our Annual Meeting is essential to the long-term success
of SICB. Come to Boston and help us chart the future!
Message from the Secretary,
Thomas G. Wolcott
Seeing the universal principles emerge again and again from a variety of disciplinary
contexts can really bring them home to developing scientists
After years of faithful and competent labor, the retiring SICB Secretary, Susan Peters,
has handed over to me the "Official Badge of Office" [no animals were harmed in
the production of this quill]. Unfortunately, when making the transfer she neglected to
read the Official Caveat: "Remember, I am a professional. Do not try this at
home..." So it's Amateur Night in Raleigh. My appreciation of Susan's contributions
has taken a quantum leap, especially since she passed along much smaller piles than I've
already accumulated as SICB Secretary.
Tremendous gratitude also is due to Public Relations Manager Christine Bennett and the
staff at the SICB Business Office, who tolerate the organizationally-challenged with great
aplomb and endless patience. As long as the new Secretary is in tactile-proprioceptive
mode (e.g., feeling his way), the SICB membership has an unprecedented opportunity to
exploit his naiveté and get their items into the newsletters. Let me know what you think
your colleagues ought to hear!
The Albuquerque meetings brought home to me once again what a unique society SICB is -
such a stimulating brew of interdisciplinary ideas! It is so refreshing (at least to a
generalist like me) to be able to step back and see more of the big picture, and to be
shown what's interesting about subjects far from my own area of focus. The result can be a
clearer vision, not just of how to execute some hot new technique, but of how to design
and carry out good science itself. Seeing the universal principles emerge again and again
from a variety of disciplinary contexts can really bring them home to developing
scientists - another compelling reason for bringing students to meetings.
In keeping with SICB's goal of attracting more student members by providing
student-oriented services (see the article on student support on page 9), I would like to
begin assembling a guide to course offerings, research opportunities and internships at
field stations. Students who succumb to my enthusiastic temptations and go to a field
station always return wildly enthusiastic, regarding that summer as one of the high points
in their educational career. What's available out there for them? A reasonably
comprehensive guide would be a real service. The best place to display it may be on the
SICB Web page, since the Spring SICB Newsletter comes out a bit late for many labs'
scholarship and application deadlines. Let's see what we get... the stuff most useful for
getting such a guide underway would be e-mail submissions from any field stations offering
courses, internships, work-learns, REU's, or other opportunities. I would need the
Name of station
Web site URL (if any)
Types of programs offered
Opportunities for financial aid
Deadline dates for applications and scholarships
I would anticipate sending an e-mail to all responding institutions each fall,
requesting data on the next summer's programs. Then we could provide current data in time
for students to survey the list, correspond with their top choices, and prepare
applications. If you own, or are owned by, or know of a station that belongs in such a
database, please send the information to
Message from the Treasurer,
Mary Beth Saffo
SICB is currently in promising financial shape. Perhaps most importantly, our overall
reserve balance (including the general endowment, specified contributory funds, and
general liquid reserves) at the end of 1996 was approximately $340,600, which slightly
exceeds our goal of maintaining at least 40 percent of our annual operating expenses as
Also, our net income for 1996 was higher than originally expected, because of lower
than expected expenses in 1996. These savings were realized largely by lowered 1996
expenses for American Zoologist, for "meeting futures" (the costs of
finding and reserving future meeting sites), and for the Albuquerque meeting, compared to
original budget projections. Our savings of about $7,500 for the Albuquerque meeting was
an especially welcome surprise. Although the 1996 Annual Meeting still operated at a loss,
the lower-than-expected attendance could have resulted in an even larger net loss than we
budgeted for. We owe thanks to the efficiency of the SICB convention staff for managing to
save money even in such circumstances.
In 1997, our expenses will increase, in part to fund innovations in American Zoologist
and the Annual Meeting. To fund our various new projects without long-term financial risk
to the Society, we need to work hard to increase our annual net income in future years. We
have four main sources of income:
Publications: American Zoologist continues to be our main income source.
With Jim Hanken's energetic editorship, increased subscription prices, and our apparent
success at holding the line on journal distributor fees, we have good reason to expect
that this journal's income will continue to offset many of the expenses of the Society.
However, continuing budget constraints among university libraries remain a source of
uncertainty for projecting numbers of future institutional subscribers. Do continue to
encourage your library to maintain its subscription to American Zoologist!
Membership Dues: Membership numbers have held steady this year, but our
hoped-for increase in membership is still an unrealized goal, and it continues to be a
priority of the Society.
Meeting Income: Our meetings have operated at a loss for several years; our
long-term goal is for meeting income to at least match expenses. Hopefully, our new
January schedule and continued program innovations will result in increased attendance
(and therefore income) from both members and exhibitors.
Member Contributions and Grants: Tightened federal budgets call for greater
initiative and creativity in seeking funds for symposia, graduate student support and
other projects of the Society. The recently appointed Development Committee is charged
with identifying new potential individual and private institutional donors to support SICB
programs. Recent generous member contributions to several of our programs - crowned by
Charlotte Mangum's recent, extraordinary gift to us - are an encouraging sign that SICB
can realize its goal of funding several of its projects through member contributions. Many
thanks to all of you who have contributed to the Grants-in-Aid of Research and other
programs in 1996!
In order to maximize the impact of member contributions, we invested $100,000 of our
reserves into long-term, high-interest CDs; in 1997, we hope to further increase the
portion of our reserves invested into higher interest-bearing funds. Our goal is to invest
at least the equivalent of our "endowment" reserves (currently $115,000) into
secure but higher-interest funds such as these; the exact mix of investments could change
from year to year, depending on changing interest rates and other financial