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Division of Neurobiology (DNB): 1999 Spring Newsletter

This Newsletter by Section

Message from the Chair

Stacia Moffett

It 's a pleasure to be able to greet you with encouraging news about our division. Those of you who were in attendance are well aware that the Division of Neurobiology is on a roll, thanks to the excellent leadership of the outgoing president Charles Page, the outgoing secretary Kiisa Nishikawa and the re-elected program officer Richard Satterlie.

We are all enthusiastic about the two symposia that the division will sponsor in Atlanta (see the program officer's note) and other plans for the future. The exciting symposium topics will be a prime reason for good attendance. Check the report from Robin Cooper, our new division secretary, about the fine student presentations that earned awards in Atlanta. Next year, we look forward to having both paper and poster sessions.

An important question that we discussed at the Denver meeting was how the division can best serve both established neurobiologists and students entering this field. We are proud of the character of SICB meetings as a forum for sharing discoveries, forming and maintaining friendships, and integrating neurobiology into the larger web of animal biology, but we all agreed that the Annual Meeting experience will get even better with the participation of more neurobiologists. Consequently, we have formulated plans to increase awareness of the division. We recognize that neurobiologists have other options for national/international affiliations, most obviously, the enormous Society for Neuroscience. However, in contrast to the exciting, hectic and exhausting experience of attending the neuroscience convention, SICB provides an atmosphere where sharing research becomes a celebration of biology that goes hand-in-hand with encouragement in the pursuit of funding and fruitful collaborations.

Neurobiologists need a place where they can find an appreciative audience for their own work as well as a setting in which their students will be warmly welcomed. SICB recognizes that undergraduate institutions and individual faculty often mentor an outstanding level of research by undergraduates. Each year, we hope to attract new neurobiologists as well as former members by contacting local chapters of the Society for Neuroscience and the regional Nerve Net members that are geographically close to the SICB meeting site. We would provide information on memberships and the financial support that is available to student members to defray the costs of the meeting. (Regular members should keep in mind that although the registration costs for us may seem somewhat high, some of those funds are used to support our students.)

In addition to working through the Nerve Net and Society of Neuroscience chapters, we are exploring the possibility of providing a forum for local participants in NSF's research education for undergraduates (REU) and possibly also the Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Program and the McNair Undergraduate Science Fellowship for Minorities. Because we believe the SICB Annual Meeting provides an exciting and affirming experience for students, we especially hope that minority students considering a career in science can be encouraged to participate.

Finally, the meeting symposia are always opportunities to introduce some outstanding neurobiologists who are not members of SICB to a meeting that has both charm and significant content. If you want more of the people in your particular line of research to become participating members of SICB, how about organizing a symposium in your field? (Deadline: June 7 for Chicago in 2001: contact Richard Satterlie). If you aren't up for organizing a symposium, then build an informal network by calling up your favorite colleagues and former students or classmates and encouraging them to plan to meet you in Atlanta in 2000. And please contact me if you have any suggestions on how DNB can serve you better!

Message from the Secretary

Robin L. Cooper

It was a real pleasure to see all those DNB members at the Denver meeting. The students within DNB appeared to have a wonderful time talking with other students and faculty about their research. Let's keep up the good work and attendance for the future SICB meetings!

We had two students win awards: the Best Student Presentation went to Barbekka C. Hurtt ($100) and Honorable Mention went to Bruce P. Griffis ($50). Congratulations on a job well done!

During the Denver meeting, a DNB section business meeting was held to discuss various issues that any member brought to the floor. About a dozen people were present at this business meeting. During the meeting the new SICB president, Dr. Martin E. Feder, dropped in to introduce himself. The agenda of the meeting focused on three topics: approval of the proposed changes in the DNB bylaws, election schedule for officers and development of DNB as a division within SICB.

The change in the DNB bylaws that was passed will call for the election for chair to be held in even years and the elections of secretary and program officer to be held in odd numbered years. In order for this to be implemented, the current secretary and program officer have agreed to serve for three years (until 2001) in order to allow the future election (in 2000) of a new chair to provide the desired overlap with seasoned officers' tenure.

As for the development of the DNB division, a number of topics arose that our constituency should be aware of, which hopefully make DNB's presence a stronger entity within SICB. One way that was discussed is organizing symposia at future Annual Meetings that will attract attention from the other divisions. A topic that was mentioned is "neuroecology" for the Chicago meeting (2001). If members have a topic that they would like to see considered for a symposia, please contact the DNB program officer Richard Satterlie (

The other topic which was actively discussed was the need to get undergraduates involved at the SICB meetings, in particular minority students. Since the 2000 SICB Annual Meeting is in Atlanta, Jan. 4-8, maybe someone out there can help in organizing undergraduates from local universities and colleges to attend the meeting. If there are ways in organizing faculty within the Atlanta area that can help in encouraging minority participation at next year's meeting, we could use your input. Any more ideas on these topics or ways to make them fruitful are welcome. The DNB officers are working to support you and your ideas.

One idea that I am still working with is placing write-ups in the annual Society for Neuroscience newsletters, informing students and faculty of our DNB division within SICB. The note will also stress that our meetings are more congenial for student presentations and conversing with potential postdoctoral advisors. I will keep you informed on the progress of stealing members away from the Society for Neuroscience and bringing them into our camp. In addition, maybe if we take a active role in Brain Awareness Week as part of the Society for Neuroscience, we can also advertise our DNB division.

We await any suggestion you may have to help stimulate student and faculty participation in our future DNB symposia and events.

Message from the Program Officer

Richard Satterlie

As usual, the Denver meeting was relaxed, congenial and informative. The number of division talks and poster presentations is increasing slowly. While this is encouraging, the modest increase still generates a desire to build the division into a prominent one within the Society. We hope that the SICB Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Jan. 4-8, 2000, will be a pivotal one in this regard. We have two symposia planned, "Nitric Oxide in Invertebrates" and "Swimming in Opisthobranch Mollusks: Contributions to the Control of Motor Behavior." In addition, those interested in locomotion will be interested in a symposium offered by the Division of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry entitled, "Intermittent Locomotion: Integrating the Physiology, Biomechanics and Behavior of Repeated Activity." Now, I need your help. I would like to organize one or more contributed paper sessions on topics related to the symposia (narrowly or broadly defined). This is an excellent opportunity for graduate students and postdocs to gain more experience giving talks in front of a national, broad audience. Please encourage your colleagues, students and friends to consider presenting a talk at the Atlanta meeting. If anyone wants to act as a nucleating agent, contributed paper sessions can be organized around themes not covered by symposia. I will welcome proposals for contributed paper sessions from any area of neurobiology.

While our future looks bright as far ahead as Atlanta, we must continue to work to develop the division. Thus far, we have only a few symposium proposals for the 2001 meeting in Chicago. I will entertain all inquiries - I will hold off on "twisting arms" until we get closer to the June 7th deadline for proposal submission.

Thanks go out to all who have supported the division.

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