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SICB Officers

SICB and Cuban Zoological Society Establish Cooperative Agreement

    Michael L. Smith

    A significant advance in the "integration of biology" took place in January when SICB and the Cuban Zoological Society (CZS) signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at promoting scientific collaboration among their members. The two organizations were represented by their presidents, Drs. Alan Kohn and Giraldo Alayón.

    The exchange in the field of natural science is probably the most extensive, and certainly the most collegial, interchange that is presently occurring between the two countries. The agreement takes note of a series of successful collaborative projects that have been carried out by scientists from one or the other of the societies. Since the late 1980s, hundreds of U.S. and Cuban scientists have engaged in joint field studies or collection-based research. The collaboration has been possible because U.S. embargo regulations include provisions encouraging scientific research and the free flow of information. Initially, the collaboration focused on biodiversity, and it included biological inventories inside Cuba by U.S. naturalists and reciprocal visits by Cuban systematists to U.S. research collections. In something of a historical irony, U.S. institutions maintain a large proportion of the specimens and associated ecological information that is needed by Cuban biologists for research on their country’s rich biodiversity.

    The exchanges of comparative biologists have led to many new precedents for contact between the U.S. and Cuba. The Treasury Department has issued licenses to carry out joint oceanographic expeditions, to organize joint workshops, symposia, and other scholarly meetings, and to ship curatorial supplies to the CZS to help preserve scientific collections in Cuban museums. Recently, the Treasury Department granted SICB and the Center for Marine Conservation the first license allowing any member of SICB to join CZS and to pay its membership fees. See The Scientist (1996, 10(8):1,4) for details about collaborating institutions.

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