SICB 1998 Spring Newsletter
Spring Newsletters by Division
Message from the President,
Alan J. Kohn
The 1998 SICB Annual Meeting, Jan. 3-7 in Boston, was our biggest and generally most
successful in years. Almost 1,200 people participated (up 60 percent from the previous
meeting), and the number of presentations increased by 40 percent from last year and 25
percent from the average of the prior three years. The nine symposia were integrative,
exciting and very well-attended. Members of the new cosponsoring Ecological Society of
America and International Society for Reef Studies greatly enriched the meeting, as did
several other innovative events.
We launched the new series of late-breaking symposia, with "Innovations in
Evolutionary Biology." Provocative talks by Stephen Jay Gould and Lynn Margulis
packed the ballroom the first evening. Both stimulated controversial discussions that
persisted over the next several days! Next years late-breaking symposium will
probably address science and the conservation of biological resources, and promises to be
Another innovation at Boston was the launch of our new journal, Integrative Biology:
Issues, News and Reviews, and distribution of Vol. 1, No. 1. All members of SICB will
receive this bimonthly magazine-style publication as a member benefit within the regular
dues structure, at least for its first two years.
We also welcomed President Giraldo Alayón and Vice President Gilberto Silva of the
Cuban Zoological Society (CZS) to our meeting, and signed a formal Memorandum of
Understanding between the two societies to foster cooperative relationships. I encourage
SICB members to join the CZS. The dues are modest by U.S. standards and will help to
support the scientific efforts of our colleagues in Cuba. Further details are in the Fall
1997 newsletter or are available from the SICB Business Office.
Also in an international vein, colleagues Dov Por in Israel and Rosa Polymeni in Greece
are hard at work with a team organizing an International Congress of Zoology, the first in
25 years. Details of the Congress, to be held in Athens in early September, 2000, are on
p.15 of this newsletter. And in August, 1999, the XVI International Botanical Congress
will be held in St. Louis. Its organizers have invited SICB to participate, and
information on the planned symposia and other aspects of the Congress program are
available at http://www.ibc99.org.
The SICB Executive Committee took a number of actions at Boston that I would like to
summarize, particularly because several of these are pocketbook issues. Membership dues
remain unchanged for 1998, but the Executive Committee voted to increase all dues
categories by 10 percent for 1999. We have had no dues increase over the last four years,
and the societys operating expenses have increased, especially business office costs
including improved software for abstract and program processing.
To encourage electronic submission of abstracts, the Executive Committee voted an
abstract fee of $35 if submitted electronically and $40 if submitted on paper, for 1999.
And in order to reduce the costs of distributing the SICB abstract issue of American
Zoologist, we have decided not to mail the volume in advance to all meeting registrants.
This has become very expensive with the heavier volume of abstracts, and it must be sent
by priority mail to ensure arrival during the holiday rush. Rather, the complete meeting
program will be posted in advance on the SICB web site and the Final Program and Abstracts
book will be distributed to all participants at registration. The abstract book will be
sent bulk mail after the meeting to subscribers and all members who did not attend the
In another decision with fiscal ramifications, the Executive Committee increased the
time limit for the postdoctoral membership category, from three years to five years or
until employed, whichever comes first.
The letter in support of strengthening the Endangered Species Act, which I mentioned in
my Fall 1997 newsletter message, has been completed and submitted to Congress and the
administration. In addition, the Conservation Committee issued a press release. You may
have seen the shortened version we published as an advertisement in the national edition
of the New York Times in February (paid for mostly by private funds). In addition to past
president Mike Hadfield and myself, presidents of eight other scientific societies joined
us in signing the statement. These include the Ecological Society of America, American
Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Botanical Society of America, Entomological Society
of America, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Malacological
Union, American Society of Mammalogists, and Western Society of Naturalists. See page 9
for a copy of this letter.
Two SICB committees will be increasing their levels of activity in 1998, and both need
the help of all members. The Membership Committee, newly constituted with Craig Young at
the helm, will be working with the SICB Business Office on the most effective ways to
increase membership in the society. Currently over 2,300, membership has increased
slightly over the past few years, with most of the gain in student memberships. While full
members quite willingly subsidize some of the benefits of student members, because this
nurtures the future of our science, we do need to attract more full members. The committee
will do its best, but every member should try to recruit at least one new full member this
year. Please contact Micki Unkrich at the SICB Business Office if youd like her to
send a packet to one or more prospective members.
Finally, the Development Committee chaired by Mike Greenberg, is also undertaking a
major campaign this year to substantially enhance the endowment of our Grants-in-Aid of
Research program in support of student research. Last year we were able to increase the
amount awarded from $5,000 to $6,000, and this year we are hoping that added interest will
permit an even greater increase. I encourage all members who can afford a donation to
insure the future health of biology in this way.
Message from the Treasurer,
First of all, I want to express my gratitude to Mary Beth Saffo who has done an
outstanding job as treasurer and to thank her for all her help during my transition.
The income projected for year end appears to be quite high. This is due to the fact that
the Annual Meeting was moved from December to January and we did not hold a meeting in the
1997 fiscal year. Therefore, there was no Annual Meeting income or expense. Beginning with
the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver, the annual budget will become consistent again.
We were fortunate to enjoy a great attendance at the meeting and the large number of
student participants really invigorated the meeting and laid the groundwork for the future
SICB members. However, SICB continues to subsidize student registration rates while fixed
meeting costs stay the same. Therefore, the more student participants, the wider the
disparity between full member and student income.
We believe that student support is very critical to the society. However, we also need
to continue good financial management of funds. The Executive Committee has been
discussing a review of the registration fees, which have not been increased in several
Several new initiatives are in the works which will enhance the member benefits already
- Subscription to Integrative Biology: Issues, News and Reviews is provided to each member
at no additional cost to the individual.
- The career brochure is currently being printed.
- SICB has joined the Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences (CELS).
The Executive Committee approved a proposed 10 percent increase in all dues categories
beginning in 1999. The dues have remained flat for many years and we felt it was prudent
to try and recoup some inflationary dollars. Membership recruitment and retention will
continue to be a strategic issue for the society.
SICB has been fortunate to have had generous donations from our members over the years.
Charlotte Mangum, who recently passed away and who will be missed, generously
bequeathed a large endowment to the society to offset student support. This gesture not
only allows Charlotte to have an ongoing legacy, but will have a positive influence on the
I look forward to being your treasurer for the next three years and if you have any
questions or suggestions, please let me know.
Message from the Secretary,
Thomas G. Wolcott
It must have been El Niño, which has been blamed for everything else. At the Boston
meetings both the seasonally-adjusted temperatures and the attendance were high. It was
particularly encouraging that there were so many graduate student attendees, and it is
incumbent on us elder statespersons (i.e., old fogeys) to continue encouraging students to
expose themselves to the smorgasbord of mind-broadening science, and the great networking
opportunities, that the SICB meetings present.
For Donna and me, the Entity Formerly Known As ASZ (EFKAA) has been like an extended
family for over two decades. Indeed, until this year we always brought along our larvae,
at first as baby-sittees, later as baby-sitters, and they have lots of
"biological" aunts and uncles. It probably reflects more on us than on SICB that
one is now a masters candidate in English and the other a junior in industrial
We, as teachers and investigators of biological wonders, are absolutely sold on the
benefits of finding out what other folks are doing, learning new things, and (perhaps most
importantly) learning why those new things are interesting. Nowhere but at SICB do we get
such stimulation to stretch our borders. Thanks to all of you for being there and
contributing to the process!