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DVM: 1998 Spring Newsleter

This Newsletter by Section

Message from the Chair

Peter C. Wainwright

Greetings to all of you. As most of you will have been at the 1998 SICB Annual Meeting in Boston this past January, then you are well aware of what a terrific event that was. In addition to the excellent DVM sessions and the interdivisional sessions, I thought there were some truly outstanding symposia. I was particularly impressed with the "Development and Evolutionary Perspectives on Major Transformation in Body Organization" and "Evolutionary Relationships of Metazoan Phylogeny: Advances, Problems and Approaches" symposia. Both were excellent examples of what makes SICB unique. Their topics were broad, substantive and integrative in nature.

I want to take this opportunity to urge all of you to think about future symposia. SICB emphasizes symposia more than most other societies, as most of the contributions go on to make up the publication American Zoologist. Because of this, symposia really do become one of the principal legacies of our society. Therefore, it is important that we make them as strong as possible. Please give some thought to possible symposia subjects. Consider organizing one yourself. If you come up with an idea you are excited about but do not wish to pursue the development of the symposium, then pass your idea along to me or Kurt Schwenk. Think big!

It is a pleasure for me to announce the winners of the DVM student paper prizes. The Davis Award for the best oral paper went to Brad Wright from the University of Chicago for his talk entitled, "Oscillation Versus Undulation in Balistiform Locomotion." The winner of the DVM student poster prize was Richard Blob, also from the University of Chicago for his poster, "Vertebral Markers for Vent Position in Lizards: Applications for Functional Studies." I saw both presentations and am delighted that the tradition of excellent student presentations that marks the DVM was highlighted by such outstanding pieces of research. Congratulations to both Brad and Richard!

On a sadder note, I must report this year will be Jim Hanken’s last as editor of American Zoologist. Jim has done a great job over the past few years in making innovations in our journal which have kept pace with the many changes to the society. As a member of our own division, Jim represented us well. I know we all are grateful to him for the extraordinary job that he did with the journal during his tenure as editor. It will be a difficult task to replace Jim. This is an important position for our society and I would ask all of you to give this some thought. Please relay any ideas you have about Jim’s possible replacement to me or directly to Jim.

In closing, I would simply like to wish all of you an enjoyable and very productive summer! Best of luck to everyone until we meet again at the 1999 SICB Annual Meeting in Denver.

Message from the Program Officer

Kurt Schwenk

For many of us in the East this newsletter is a welcome harbinger of spring, though as I write the New England winter continues unabated outside. The 1998 SICB Annual Meeting in Boston is a recent and pleasant memory — the weather was mild, the food good and the variety of microbrews dizzying! Oh yes, the talks were also great. Indeed, there was a virtual embarrassment of riches. The problem most of us faced was deciding among conflicting papers. This, of course, is a perennial problem for DVMers (an inquisitive lot by nature) and the bane of the program officer’s existence, or so I am learning. Conflicts between DVM paper sessions and related interdivisional sessions, or symposia, are likely to remain inescapable. However, in the coming year my fortuitous geographic proximity to the SICB program officer (fellow DVMer Willy Bemis) will allow me to travel to Amherst at the appropriate time where I might, under the guise of "helping," exert undue influence on behalf of DVM to mitigate such conflicts. In the long term, there is discussion of extending the meeting time for one day, but this remains on a distant horizon, so please do not e-mail the head office with praise or protest just yet!

The Northeastern Regional Meeting of DVM at the University of Connecticut last October was a great success. I urge all who can to attend the next meeting at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard. It is organized by Kate Jackson ( and Tomasz Owerkowicz ( If you are in the Northeast and did not receive an e-mail announcement for the UConn meeting, be sure to contact Kate or Tomasz to have your address added to the master list. All others are welcome to attend if in the vicinity (and if willing to undergo an unpleasant hazing ritual to become an honorary easterner).

The next SICB Annual Meeting will be at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver, Jan. 6-10, 1999. Please note that, not only is Denver a great city and the hotel reputed to be excellent, but the rates will be only $70 single/double, a real bargain. There will be three symposia of direct interest to DVM:

  • "Function and Evolution of the Vertebrate Axis," organized by J. H. Long, Jr. and T. J. Koob
  • "Teaching Biology and the WWW," organized by M. L. Blum and S. Nowicki
  • "The Evolutionary Origin of Feathers," organized by P. F. A. Maderson and D.G. Homberger

The deadline for DVM-sponsored symposia proposals for the Atlanta Meeting in 2000 is April 15, 1998. You can obtain a proposal submittal form by requesting one from the Chicago office ( I will be happy to work with anyone who needs information, or wants to discuss ideas or strategies.

Finally, I would like to use this forum to thank John Hermanson who has toiled quietly, yet powerfully, on behalf of the division. As I begin to glean the difficulties and complexities of the program officer’s job, I appreciate all the more John’s great skill and effectiveness in the job. John has left things in very good shape, so any foul-ups that occur henceforth can be unambiguously attributed to me.

Message from the Secretary

John Long

Minutes of the Business Meeting
January 4, 1998

Peter Wainwright, DVM chair, began by thanking the outgoing secretary, Dominique Homberger, and program officer, John Hermanson, for their excellent work. He also thanked John Bertram and the Nominating Committee for their efforts in the recent DVM elections. Wainwright reported that SICB’s Executive Committee had approved, in order to offset an expected budget shortfall, a ten percent increase in membership dues. The committee requested feedback on this issue from SICB members.

After an introduction by Wainwright, Hermanson issued his report of the program officers meeting. Of primary concern to the division was the issue of whether the society should continue to organize itself by divisions and whether DVM wished to decrease the proportion of contributed papers presented orally. In response to concerns, Hermanson encouraged members to continue interdivisional sessions as an experiment for several years, in spite of the conflicts such sessions create with divisional sessions. Divisional issues such as these, explained Kurt Schwenk, new DVM program officer, are coming to the forefront in the society. Because of the changes underway, argued Homberger, DVM should prepare and present its position at the society’s business meeting.

The following motion, moved by Richard Wassersug, passed by unanimous voice vote: "The Division of Vertebrate Morphology is happy to remain the Division of Vertebrate Morphology." Wassersug presented a second motion, which passed with votes of 23 "yes," two "no," and five "abstain:" "The Division of Vertebrate Morphology wishes to maintain contributed paper sessions." Wainwright was charged to present these divisional positions to SICB at large at the business meeting. If you wish to comment, please contact either Schwenk or Wainwright.

DVM Web Site to be Revamped
In order to facilitate communication among our members, I’m working with Kerry Clark, the chair of the SICB Electronic Communications Committee, to redesign the DVM web site to become a useful resource for teaching, research and job-hunting in the field of vertebrate morphology. Such a site may help us begin to answer the call, as put forth by previous DVM Secretary, Dominique Homberger, in her last message (p. 38, Fall 1998 SICB Newsletter), to revitalize the science of organismal structure and avoid further erosion of our presence in academia. I, for one, would benefit from a site that included:

  • Links to other DVM member web sites.
  • Resources for teaching vertebrate morphology.
  • News on available academic positions for graduate students and professors alike.
  • A screened message board with updates on the status of our profession.
  • A site for the latest news on equipment, animals and techniques.
  • Links to online journals.

If you have suggestions for what else might be included, please contact me ( Also, I will be asking, in the next several months, for contributions (links, news or graphics) from our members.

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