Division of Developmental and Cell Biology (DDCB)
Message from the Chair
Scott F. Gilbert
We live in exciting times. The Division of Developmental and Cell Biology has budded off a new division, the Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology. This bud has already sprouted a new symposium, so that the developmental biology presence at the 2000 Annual Meeting in Atlanta should be stunningly vigorous. There were numerous reasons for the budding, and not many reasons against it.
First, the Division of Developmental and Cell Biology can still carry on its functions, limited only by the creativity of its members. Every living thing develops and every living thing has cells, so we don't have many limitations. Next year, the symposium for the DDCB will be "Hox Genes in Development and Evolution." It is being organized by Billie Swalla, and will involve Hox gene function throughout the animal kingdom. The symposium should be an ideal showcase for comparative developmental genetics. The symposium for the 20001 meeting in Chicago will probably concern "Ecological Developmental Biology." "Eco-Devo" is an idea whose time has come and includes such phenomena as egg protection, diapause, cryptobiosis, teratogenicity, environment-induced polyphenism, environmental sex determination, larval settlement and insect caste determination. Ideas for symposia for other meetings include "The Biomechanics of Development" and "The Development of the Reproductive Systems." There should be no dearth of interesting topics for the DDCB.
Second, the Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology will provide a meeting place for the expanding numbers of developmental biologists who are working in this area. Before this division was established, there was no such "home." Moreover, it will provide a good home for such scientists. The SICB meetings are some of the few places where developmental biologists can meet structural morphologists, systematists and ecologists.
The Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology will have a Foundation Symposium on "The History and Philosophy of Evolutionary Developmental Biology." This symposium will be co-sponsored by the Division of Developmental and Cell Biology, the Division of Integrative and Comparative Issues, and the Division of Systematic and Evolutionary Biology. While the full roster of speakers has not yet been finalized, it will include talks by researchers such as Rudy Raff, Gunter Wagner, Brian Hall and Sean Carroll.
The board approved the new division unanimously, and I will be its interim chair until elections are conducted (probably in this very issue of the newsletter). To succeed in these ambitious undertakings, we will need your help. Please say yes if asked to be on a Nominating Committee or to run for office. If we know that the future will see good people heading both divisions, there should be real cause for rejoicing at the SICB meeting in Atlanta.
Message from the Secretary
Charles H. Ellis, Jr.
Minutes of the Division Business Meeting
The Division of Developmental and Cell Biology business meeting was held at the SICB Annual Meeting in Denver. The meeting was called to order by chairman John Wourms at 5:20 PM on January 7, 1999. He then introduced Martin Feder, SICB president-elect who outlined the Society's strategic planning initiative and asked for members to become active in it.
The minutes of the 1998 business meeting were approved as published in the newsletter.
John Wourms reported on SICB developments from the Executive Committee meeting. SICB is going electronic with the newsletter this year, and will be exploring use of the World Wide Web for membership transactions, meeting registration and elections. While the Society overall is in good financial health, John expressed concern about the division which now stands at just over 200 members. Competition with Society for Developmental Biology and Cell Biology may be an issue. He noted that Scott Gilbert would be presenting a proposal later in the meeting about bringing evolution/development persons into the SICB.
Discussion turned to problems that had arisen during the year between symposium organizers and the SICB office, particularly with respect to registration fees for invited symposium speakers, and a number of other pertinent issues. Those present lauded Paul Maderson for the fine symposium on "Evolution and Development of Feathers," and his ability to surmount many of those difficulties.
John noted the death of William Ballard during the year, and our loss of Clifford Grobstein was also remembered.
Before turning the gavel over to Scott Gilbert, the incoming chairperson, John emphasized the importance of SICB's strategic planning activities. He expressed particular concern that SICB should become more activist, lobbying for whole-organism biology, most aspects of which seem to be missing from the National Academy of Sciences report on graduate education.
Scott Gilbert then assumed the chair, expressing the divisions thanks to John Wourms, Charles Ellis and Billie Swalla for their efforts, respectively, as chair, secretary and program officer. He then presented the proposal to develop a new SICB division of evolutionary developmental biology which would be before the Executive Committee on the last day of the meetings. As a vocal discussion of the pro's and con's proceeded, general consensus was reached that, given DDCB's current state, bringing the mainstream evo/devo workers into the Society would by synergistic to our division. Given the potential start-up problems, the two divisions could work together to establish attractive programming in the next two years. We may be sponsoring a Hox symposium in Atlanta (2000) that would easily attract and involve these new members. Scott also suggested that DDCB and DICI, with the help of Richard Burian, might propose co-sponsorship of a symposium on the history of 20th century approaches to evolution and development, and that an ecology/development program might be a good idea for the 2001 meeting.
Discussion turned to the forthcoming election for program officer. Scott Gilbert and Billie Swalla emphasized the importance of this position and that we must locate good, committed candidates. A Nominating Committee will be established to work on this.
Finally, Scott presented a request from the SICB Executive Committee that the division bylaws be revised to provide a mechanism for breaking tie votes in the division Executive Committee. Those present agreed that this could be done, and a revision will be proposed to go on the ballot with the program officer election.
The meeting adjourned at 6:17 PM.
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