Division of Animal Behavior

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Best Student Presentation Competition

Zuk Award Finalists

Thank you to all of the students who participated in our 2019 Marlene Zuk and Elizabeth Adkins-Regan competitions! With 45 student competitors and 50 judges across our Zuk and Adkins-Regan competitions, much of our division was involved in these competitions, and we are very proud of this high level of participation. We had a fantastic Marlene Zuk Best Student Presentation Session with seven finalists giving excellent oral presentations to a packed room, as well an impressive 29 students competing for the Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award for Best Student Poster.

Zuk Award Winner Jenna Pruett (center); Adkins-Regan Award Winner Erin Giglio (at right).

The Marlene Zuk Award for best oral presentation went to Jenna Pruett for her talk titled, “Maternal nest choice and the effects of nest microclimate on egg survival in the brown anole”. Jenna is a PhD student in Dr. Dan Warner’s lab at Auburn University where she studies nesting behavior and maternal effects in reptiles. Her work on the effects of nesting behavior started in painted turtles and has moved to brown anoles. She hopes to characterize anole nesting behavior and its effects on embryo development, particularly under natural field conditions.
The Elizabeth Adkins-Regan award went to Erin Giglio for her poster entitled, “Context in courtship: the role of leptin in social investment decisions in singing mice.” Erin Giglio is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin working in the lab of Steven Phelps. Her research focuses on the integration of social and energetic context into decisions about effort investment in social signaling behavior, particularly in Alston’s singing mice (Scotinomys teguina). She is particularly interested in the hormone leptin, which shows promise as a potential indicator of overall energetic context. In the study she presented, singing mice injected with leptin produced more songs in response to playback trials than singing mice injected with saline, as well as songs that scored higher on a measure of effort derived from a study of wild-caught singing mice. This was true despite no manipulation of animals involved. Erin’s research is currently hosted at phelpslab.net.
Many congratulations to our two winners, and a big thank you to all of the judges who helped evaluate the student talks and posters!

Animal Behavior Posters at the SICB annual meeting in Tampa, FL

Thank you to outgoing DAB Chair Jenny Gumm

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Jenny Gumm, our exiting DAB Chair, for her years of service and hard work for our division. She did an excellent job. In particular, her leadership throughout the process of naming our student presentation awards was much appreciated, and will have a lasting impact on our division. Many, many thanks, Jenny!

Message from the Chair, Kendra Sewall (Chair.DAB@sicb.org)

A huge thank you to all members who presented at our most recent meeting in Tampa! Our division is among the largest but is often a secondary affiliation for SICB attendees. The primary goal for the coming year is to get more members engaged with service within our division, whether as a new focus of their efforts or in addition to their service to other divisions. Much of what we do is to support students so please consider engaging in the following at our next meeting in Austin, TX!

Student talk and poster awards: This is a great opportunity for your students to have their work highlighted so please consider having your students sign up for the Marlene Zuk Best Student Oral Presentation or Elizabeth Adkins-Regan Award for Best Student Poster.These sessions highlight the best work our students are doing so they are about a lot more than just the competition. Please attend these events to support our students and consider volunteering to judge them.

Organizing symposia: Because we are so integrative our division supports a lot of symposia. However, we have few symposia that are focused on behavior. If you have ideas for a symposium for the 2021 meeting in Washington, D.C., that would focus on behavior please contact me or Scott MacDougall-Shackleton! Organizing a symposium can be a great way to highlight your work and all symposium papers are published in Integrative and Comparative Biology

Meeting participation: Please consider moderating a session during our next meeting in 2020 and attending the business meeting(really a members meeting). Engaging in service and leadership in our professional societies is critical to early career stage folks and we have lots of ways you can participate that won’t take too much of your time! We will need someone to step in for Erica Lynn Westerman next year as Secretary so consider running for that position. We will also have a position for a Student or Postdoc representative, so encourage your mentees get involved. Please also join us for our regular division social in 2020!

Student mentoring program: At the 2020 meeting we plan to start a student mentoring program that will match graduate students with faculty from other institutions. Look for a survey to come out around the time abstracts are due and please consider signing up to meet with a student and encourage your students to participate.Networking can be intimidating for students but is critically important. Also, if you are interested in helping to organize this effort please contact me!

Tampa was a gorgeous location and a wonderful venue for SICB’s annual meeting in 2019

Message from the Program Officer, Scott McDougall-Shackleton (DPO.DAB@sicb.org)

We had a great scientific program in Tampa Bay. Thanks to all attendees and presenters for a fantastic meeting. It was great to have a good mix of Animal Behavior science and waterfront strolls. Symposia continue to be central to SICB annual meeting, and the Division of Animal Behaviour co-sponsored Integrative Plant Biology, The Scale of Sickness, Stress Phenotype, and the Dynamic Nature of the Environment. It is never too soon to start thinking about symposium proposals for the 2021 meeting in Washington DC. The proposals will be due this summer. If you have any questions about organizing a symposium, send me an email or flag me down. The work is not too onerous, but it does require some planning and organization. We would like the breadth of animal behavior research to be continued to be reflected in the symposia and resultant publications in the society’s journal, Integrative and Comparative Biology. I’ve organized a couple of symposia myself, and it is very rewarding. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned and grant proposals that you could use as a template.

In recent years our symposia have mostly been jointly sponsored with other divisions. This is great because it reflects the integrative nature of our work. However, it would also be great to have an upcoming symposium that has behaviour as the key focus. If there are hot and developing topics in behavioural ecology or animal behaviour that you think someone should organize a symposium on please let me know.

Message from the Secretary, Erica Westerman (Secretary.DAB@sicb.org)

Abundant “thank yous” to the poster judges who volunteered their time to engage and give feedback to the student contestants in the Adkins-Regan competition. Many of you gave thoughtful feedback, which has been passed on to the student participants. And for student participants who would like to receive feedback, it is not to late! Please send me an e-mail, and I will send you the judge’s comments.

Our division has an ever-increasing presence on social media, and we encourage you to follow @SICB_DAB on Twitter, or join the “SICB Division of Animal Behavior” group on Facebook for late breaking information on activities of the division and our members. You also have the opportunity to participate in SICB’s online Researchers Database. If you would like to have your information included in this database, please send me a word document or PDF with your name, a brief description of your work, and a high-resolution .jpg photograph, at Secretary.DAB@sicb.org.

And last but not least, one of the things we discussed in our DAB members meeting in Tampa was the DAB connection to the Animal Behavior Society. In the spirit of that connection, I remind our members that the ABS annual meeting is in Chicago this year, from July 23–27. While the deadline for abstracts has now past, the deadline for early registration is April 15th. DAB is often well represented, and I look forward to seeing many of you in the Windy City this summer!

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Sydney Hope

We had a great meeting this year! SPDAC sponsored an online poster-making course, led by Zen Faulkes (former SPDAC chair, and creator of http://betterposters.blogspot.com/). We also held a brown bag poster workshop during the meeting, which had a nice turnout. Now, we’re starting to plan to next year’s meeting in Austin.

We are planning two items for the next meeting. First, we plan to have a booth in the Exhibitor’s Hall with a “How-To” theme. For this booth, we would like to create and distribute a number of “How-To” brochures that would be useful for students and post-docs (e.g., science communication, research and teaching statement design, creating a symposium proposal, getting a post-doc, etc.). Second, we plan to hold a workshop on “Transitions in Science”. This will be set up as a round-table discussion where we can discuss the major transitions in science careers (e.g., undergraduate to graduate student, PhD to postdoc, academia, or other career paths). We would love your input on this! If you have any suggestions for improvements/things to include for either of these two items, or any other ideas of how to improve our meetings for students and post-docs, please email me (shope@vt.edu).

Additionally, DAB is looking for ways to help students and post-docs become more involved with the division. We are planning to organize a mentor/mentee matching program, to match senior researchers with a small group of students/post-docs to meet for coffee or a meal. Please let us know if you have any suggestions for this, or if you are a senior researcher and would like to participate as a mentor!

SICB Student and Postdoc Funding Opportunities

While the deadlines for SICB awards may seem light-years away, it is never too soon to put these important dates on your calendar! The Broadening Participation travel award (funds to attend the 2020 SICB meeting), Charlotte Magnum Student Support Program (funds to attend the 2020 SICB meeting), and GIAR/FGST (funds to support student research, including the Grants in Aid of Research and Graduate Student Travel awards) will be due on or around Oct 17th, 2019. The Dorothy M. Skinner Award (funds for female scientists (often postdocs) to attend the 2020 SICB meeting) is due on August 23, 2019. These are wonderful funding opportunities to help defray the cost of attending the SICB meeting, or the cost of student research.

Other summer and fall deadlines include: the Society for Neuroscience Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience, applications due May 24th, 2019, details can be found at: https://www.sfn.org/Careers/Awards/Early-Career/Donald-B-Lindsley-Prize-in-Behavioral-Neuroscience And, the Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research applications are due October 1st, details can be found here: https://sigmaxi.fluidreview.com/res/p/guidelines/.

For graduate students wrapping up their degrees, or brand-new postdocs, the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Research Fellowship application is due Monday July 1st, 2019. Applicants must be within 12 months of their graduation to apply. Details can be found at: http://hhwf.org/research-fellowship/application/.

The NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowship application has three submission deadlines a year, and the summer deadline is August 8th, 2019. Details can be found here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-18-670.html. While the NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology applications are due in early November each year. Details can be found here: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503622&org=NSF.

Election Information: Candidate Biographies (vote here: http://sicb.org/elections/2019.php)

Candidates for Program Officer

Kathleen Lynch

Kathleen Lynch

Current Position: Assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences Hofstra University

Education: Education: B.S. in Zoology from University of Montana (1993); M.S. in Organismal Biology from Idaho State University (1999); PhD in Neuroscience at University of Texas at Austin (2005)

Professional Experience: Postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University in Psychological and Brain Sciences (2005–2009); Postdoctoral fellow at University of Texas at Austin in Integrative Biology (2009–2013)

SICB Activities: Meeting participant since 2002 and winner of Best Student Presentation in 2004 (DAB), session chair, best student presentation and best student poster judge for DAB and DCE and symposium co-organizer in 2017.

Other Memberships: Society for Neuroscience, Animal Behavior Society, Jerry B. Johnston Club

Research Interests: The aim of my research is to understand the neurobiological-, hormonal-, and molecular-basis of avian brood parasitism. Current projects in my lab examine the role of prolactin in female cowbird behavioral responses to offspring and transcriptome responses in the hypothalamus. We also use the comparative approach to examine candidate gene expression in a variety of brain regions of closely related parasites and non-parasites to understand neural targets of evolution in these species.

Goal Statements: As program officer, I would focus on organizing the symposia and the program so that it continues to showcase talks by students and post-doctoral researchers. I would also organize program sessions so that multiple perspectives surrounding a single topic are represented. I would reach out to early career scientists and scientists from underrepresented backgrounds to encourage new ideas for symposia. My goal would be to create integrated sessions that present both the ultimate and proximate mechanisms of behavior.

Tom Hahn

Tom Hahn

Current Position: Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior; Graduate Groups in Animal Behavior, Ecology and Avian Sciences, University of California Davis, Davis, CA.

Education: BS, Biological Sciences, Stanford University (1984); MS, Biological Sciences, Stanford University (1985); PhD, Zoology, University of Washington (1993).

Professional Experience: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University (1994–95); Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University (1996–2000); Assistant Professor, Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks (2000–01); Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, University of California Davis (2001–2004); Associate Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, University of California Davis (2004–2009); Chair, Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California Davis (2011–14).

SICB Activities: Meeting participant (1987-present); Secretary, Division of Animal Behavior (2003–07); Chair, Division of Animal Behavior (2007–10); symposium coordinator (DAB, 2009); DAB student presentation (posters, talks) judge (multiple years).

Other memberships: Animal Behavior Society, Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.

Research interests: My lab group studies interactions between animals and their environments, with focus on mechanisms of phenological scheduling (e.g., neuroendocrine and endocrine regulation of avian reproduction and migration schedules), communication (e.g., development and plasticity of avian vocal behavior), and life history trade-offs (e.g., coordination of investment in survival-enhancing processes such as immune function and reproduction-enhancing processes such as mating behavior).

Goals statement: The things I love most about SICB in general, and DAB in particular, are the diversity of research interests represented, the encouragement and showcasing of achievements of students and postdocs, and the strength of the program of symposia at the annual meetings. The one DAB officer position that I have not yet held is Program Officer, and if chosen I would relish the opportunity to contribute to the maintenance and enhancement of these strengths of the society and this division. My own experience as a biologist includes elements of virtually all of the divisions of SICB, from biomechanics to ecology and evolution to endocrinology to neuroscience, so I think I am well-equipped to do a reasonable job of slotting meeting participants into appropriate sessions (one of the main jobs of the program officer). I also have attended dozens of SICB meetings over the years, so I believe I will be able to provide reasonable input on the appropriateness of meeting venues, and on how to make the most of the venues that are chosen. My specific goals are not fancy: (1) continue to promote and facilitate participation of students, postdocs, early-career faculty, and members of traditionally under-represented groups in the society and the division, and (2) solicit, encourage and facilitate the types of integrative, forward-looking symposia for which the DAB is such a natural home.