DDCB: 1998 Spring Newsleter
This Newsletter by Section
Message from the Chair
John P. Wourms
It is a dark and stormy night as I write this report, with weather more typical of the
rainy season in northern California than late winter in South Carolina. The 1998 SICB
Annual Meeting in Boston was a fabulous success. The attendance was up considerably. It is
hard to say whether the increase in attendance is a function of our new meeting date or
the venue, or a combination of the two. Having lived in Cambridge, it certainly was fun to
return. Our next meeting in Denver should be equally attractive, so start planning now. In
addition to the SICB meeting, this year we had the first meeting of the Julia B. Platt
Club, a pre-meeting informal gathering of those interested in comparative and evolutionary
aspects of development.
Part of the success of the Boston meeting was due to the strong program. Our division
sponsored two symposia, namely: "Comparative Embryology of Myogenesis,"
organized by Judy Venuti; and "Developmental and Evolutionary Perspectives on Major
Transformations in Body Organization," organized by Lennart Olsson and Brian Hall. We
are indebted to Judy, Lennart and Brian for jobs well done. Those members who have been
involved in organizing symposia know well how time consuming and labor intensive they can
be. In addition, we co-sponsored symposia on: "Evolutionary Relationships of Metazoan
Phyla," and "The Compleat Crustacean Biologist: A Tribute to Dorothy M.
Skinner." There were also several contributed paper and poster sessions.
The one disappointment was the relatively poor turnout for our annual business meeting.
Participation in divisional affairs offers opportunities both to established members as
well as those just embarking on their careers. In this respect, I would like to extend an
invitation to our membership to take a more active part in our division. Development and
cell biology are fascinating areas of inquiry. To insure that a diversity of interests and
approaches is maintained, we need the broadest possible representation of developmental
and cell biologists in guiding the future directions of these fields. This year we were
faced with elections for secretary and program officer. Charles Ellis offered to stand for
a second term as secretary. There being no other candidates, members in attendance at the
business meeting suggested that the Nominating Committee consider a single candidate with
a write-in provision on the ballot. With Billie Swallas term as program officer also
expiring, the officers and the Nominating Committee decided to defer the election for a
year. Billie has accepted our request to remain in office for an additional year. This
gives us the opportunity to find highly qualified candidates for this most critical
position, and to get our elections back to the staggered schedule that they should be on.
Our thanks to you Billie and Charlie!
When you receive your ballot, please vote. You will be casting a vote both for the
candidate or the write-in of your choice, and for the division.
Message from the Secretary
Charles H. Ellis, Jr.
Minutes of the 1998 Divisional Business Meeting The annual business meeting of the
Division of Developmental and Cell Biology was held in Boston on January 6, 1998. John
Wourms, chair of the division, presided.
The meeting began with a brief report from Michael Greenberg announcing SICBs
plan to raise a significant endowment for the Grants-in-Aid of Research program. The goal
is to raise $125,000 and initial pledges and donations have already totaled more than
$22,000. The committee hopes that members will donate generously. Numbers of member donors
are as important as the amounts donated; corporate and foundation funding can be
stimulated by a high percent participation. He also informed those present of the need to
recruit members who are willing to help raise funds. A committee will be established, with
a training session anticipated at the 1999 meeting in Denver.
John Wourms then opened the regular order of business, welcoming Scott Gilbert,
chair-elect, and expressing thanks to Billie Swalla, the symposium organizers and speakers
for the fine scientific program at the meeting. Noting the excellent attendance of
division members at the scientific sessions, he expressed concern that the business
meeting attracted so few participants other than the officers. The diversity of interests
of SICB members still requires strong divisions. Programming begins at the grass roots
within a division; interdivisional cooperation then makes integrative programs work. He
reported that the SICB Executive Committee is talking about divisional structure of the
society and whether some divisions should be merged. The general consensus of those
present was that this is not a good idea.
Charles Ellis presented the secretarys report. He asked for approval of the
minutes of the 1997 meeting, as published. The minutes were approved. He reported that
elections should be held in the Spring for secretary and program officer as those terms
run through 1998. The Nominating Committee will need to have nominees identified by early
February so that ballots can go out in the Spring SICB Newsletter.
Billie Swalla, reporting as program officer, extended more thanks to the symposium
participants. She noted that DDCB is sponsoring only one symposium at the 1999 SICB Annual
Meeting, Jan. 6-10 in Denver, on "Evolutionary Origin of Feathers." Discussion
of possible areas for future symposia led to the strong suggestion that one topic for
Atlanta (2000) ought to be signaling pathways, perhaps jointly with DCE and DCPB.
She then asked for suggestions on how SICB meetings might be better advertised. While
members present were aware that the SICB office had sent posters advertising the meeting
to departments across the country, almost no one had seen one in their own department.
Perhaps posters should be sent directly to concerned SICB members, instead of the
department chairperson. [The SICB Office, on reading these minutes, informs me that 1998
meeting posters were sent to selected members. It was in 1997 that they went to department
The meeting concluded with appointment of the Nominating Committee. Hans Laufer agreed
to chair the committee. Scott Gilbert and Billie Swalla agreed to be the other members.
Potential nominees for secretary and program officer were discussed with the committee
Notices of the regional and national meetings listed here come from the web site of the
Society for Developmental Biology, which sponsors the regional meetings. More detailed
information is available at that site http://sdb.bio.purdue.edu.
April 17-19, 1998
Northeast Regional Developmental Biology Meeting
Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole, Mass.
May 7-9, 1998
Southwest Regional Developmental Biology Meeting
Corpus Christi, Texas
May 18-20, 1998
Southeast Regional Developmental Biology Meeting
May 27-29, 1998
Midwest Regional Developmental Biology Meeting
Indiana University - Purdue University
(The West Coast and Northwest regional meetings were held in March.)
June 20-25, 1998
Society for Developmental Biology 57th Annual Meeting
1998 DDCB Best Student Paper Award to Tim Carl
The Best Student Paper Award judging committee attended the graduate student paper and
poster presentations that were entered in this years competition. The 1998 winner
is: Tim F. Carl of the University of Colorado at Boulder, for his paper entitled,
"Developmental Function of Limb Ectoderm in a Direct Developing Frog, Eleutherodactylus
coqui." He receives a $100 award and copies of selected back issues of American
Zoologist with significant developmental symposia. Congratulations!
The judging committee comprised John Wourms (Clemson), Charles Ellis
(Northeastern), and Billie Swalla (Pennsylvania State).
DDCB Election - 1999-2001 term
The DDCB Nominating Committee has nominated Charles Ellis to stand for
election to a second term as division secretary. As they did not nominate a second
candidate, the ballot contains a blank for a write-in, should another candidace develop.
Even with only one nominated candidate, it is important to participate in choosing
After the Annual Meeting, the divisional officers and the Nominating
Committee discussed the problem of secretary and program officer elections occurring in
the same year. This resulted when Billie Swalla took over as program officer in the last
year of her predecessors term. It was agreed that the staggered terms could be
reestablished by extending Billies term through 1999. She has graciously offered to
serve for one more year, and her successor will be elected in Spring 1999 to take office
at the 2000 SICB Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
Candidate for Secretary
Charles H. Ellis, Jr.
Current Position: Associate Professor of Biology, Northeastern University.
Education: B.A., Swarthmore College, 1962; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University,
Professional Experience: Assistant Professor, Amherst College, 1966-71;
Northeastern University, 1971-present.
SICB Activities: DDCB Secretary, 1996-present, DDCB Best Student Paper
Other Memberships: American Microscopical Society (Executive Committee,
1995-98), AAAS, American Academy of Underwater Sciences, National Association of Advisors
for Health Professions.
Research Interests: Invertebrate development platyhelminthes and
echinoderms; larval biology; reproductive ecology.