Division of Botany

Fall Newsletter 2019

Alice C. Gibb
Nov 1 · 7 min read

Message from the Chair, Chris Martine, chair.dob@sicb.org

Well, this is all pretty exciting: We are a new Division of SICB! Thanks to the vision of SICB President Beth Brainerd, the enthusiastic group of plant-related researchers who met and talked about initiating a Division at the SICB 2019 meeting, and — most recently — the work of your DOB officers, we are now official as we head into this year’s meeting!

Chair Chris Martine

Membership in the Division of Botany has swelled to 45 times its size at this time last year! That is to say, we went from zero to 45 SICB members selecting DOB as one of their divisional affiliations — which is impressive and, I think, a sign that even greater things are to come. Honestly, this is a big deal. It was less than a human generation ago (or so) that SICB was still called the American Society of Zoologists. And, now, here we are contributing to a truly integrated professional society of organismal biologists. The timing couldn’t be better. As the biological sciences become more integrated on the whole, and as we work and conduct research across traditional boundaries ourselves, those of us in the plant-related sciences need to pull some chairs up to tables like these — not because we want to distance ourselves from botanical science, but because keeping plants in the conversations surrounding biological research and education requires that we sometimes “face outward.” I am so pleased to have been asked to be a part of this particular effort; and it is a happy coincidence that while serving as your DOB Chair I am simultaneously serving on the Executive Board of the Botanical Society of America. I hope the record will show that these communities were linked and complementary from the get-go.

Continuing to build our DOB community is the leading priority for the division in the coming years, so I look forward to seeing many of you at the DOB business meeting in Austin. Please come ready to share your ideas for bringing more “planty” people into the SICB fold. Think big, think small, think outside the box. We are unbound by any history or tradition aside from what we dream up in the present.

On the subject of dreams, I am positively chuffed that President Brainerd once again approved support for the Rising Star in Organismal Botany (RSOB) award at SICB 2020. I am as equally grateful that Stacey Smith also again took on the task of accepting abstracts from the students who wish to be considered — and has secured volunteers to act as judges. Please do plan to attend the session during which these potential awardees are presenting. It will be through these outstanding early-career scientists (all of them rising stars, truth be told) that our embryonic DOB someday matures and blossoms. You’ll all be pleased to know that last year’s RSOB winner, Morgan Furze, recently agreed to be DOB’s inaugural representative to the SICB Student-Postdoctoral Affairs Committee (SPDAC). Thanks, Morgan!

On a final note: Because Chris, Janet, and I were appointed as founding officers of DOB we will be rotating off on a staggered timeline that begins this year. You’ll hear more about upcoming election plans soon and I do hope that many of you will be willing to stand for election and help us to build this thing we’ve all started.

Nominating Committee Information: We are looking for a volunteer to serve on the Nominating Committee for future elections. Please contact the DOB Secretary, Chris Muir (secretary.dob@sicb.org) if you’d like to volunteer.

Message from the Program Officer, Janet Steven, dpo.dob@sicb.org

The 2020 SICB meeting January 3–7 in Austin, Texas is shaping up to be interesting and integrative. The Program Officers have scheduled 140 sessions and 11 symposia that include almost 1900 abstracts. The Division of Botany will be represented in a number of sessions, and the Rising Star in Organismal Botany award session includes eight talks that span many areas of plant science. In addition, there is a society-wide symposium entitled “Form, structure, and function: How plants vs. animals solve physical problems” that includes talks about dispersal, carnivory, and biomimetic technology inspired by plants.

Program Officer Janet Steven

All sessions and workshops will be held at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Austin, and the conference rate for rooms is $140 plus taxes and fees if you register by December 11, which is a great deal for a 4-star hotel in the middle of a city. The conference hotel is surrounded by a number of restaurants. A few insider tips for navigating the meeting: If you are a member of Marriott Bonvoy (signup is free) and staying at the conference hotel, you get free high-speed wifi. To encourage sustainability, participants are encouraged to bring their own water bottle, and water coolers will be available in session rooms. Childcare will be provided and is free, and there is also a designated Mother’s Room. You can register for the meeting and get more details here (http://burkclients.com/sicb/meetings/2020/site/index.html).

The Division of Botany will hold its first members meeting during the conference, and all members and future members are encouraged to attend. We are also co-sponsoring a social event with five other divisions, including the Division of Ecology and Evolution and the Division of Phylogenetics and Comparative Biology. Plant research is taking hold at SICB and generating integrative and exciting conversations — come be a part of the dialogue!

Message from the Secretary, Chris Muir, secretary.dob@sicb.org

Aloha DOBers! Thanks for reading. Since our division is shiny and new, let me start by introducing myself. My name is Chris Muir (not to be confused with our chair, Chris Martine), I started as an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaiʻi in January 2019 and I’m really honored and excited to be part of the Green Wave at SICB. In my research, I combine evolution and ecophysiology to understand how plants adapt to different environments. If we haven’t met, please introduce yourself to me at Austin so I can get to know all of you.

I was fortunate to attend my first SICB meeting as a graduate student. I came away inspired by the integrative, comparative, and organism-centered science, but felt a little isolated because I was nearly the lone botanist. There are many botanists working on SICB’s core conceptual problems, so botanists have a lot to contribute to and gain from the society. The DOB is here to facilitate that.

Secretary Chris Muir, at top of photo

If you’re coming to Austin, here’s some ways to get involved. Our new Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee representative Morgan Furze (see below) is organizing a “Botany Bites” opportunity for students and postdocs to interact with DOB faculty. Please also come to our members meeting and social (see Janet’s message above for details). I would also like to organize a DOB gathering at bar/brewery near the conference or maybe the Johnson Wildflower Center. We will email DOB members as this develops, but please contact me if you have ideas.

If you’re not coming to Austin, bummer! Hopefully we see you in 2021 in Washington D.C. Please let your colleagues know about the DOB, get them to join SICB, and attend future meetings. We are also seeking to get some good botanically related symposia for the 2022 meeting in Phoenix.

Finally, at the bottom of this newsletter I’ve included a gratuitous plant picture of Solanum, courtesy of Chris Martine. If you want your favorite plant featured in our Spring 2020 Newsletter, please email me!

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Morgan Furze, morgan.furze@yale.edu

Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative Morgan Furze

Hello students and postdocs! I hope you’re getting excited for the Division of Botany’s first formal appearance at the upcoming meeting in Austin, Texas. This year, we are again looking forward to the Rising Star in Organismal Botany competition. Students will present 12-minute research talks for a chance to win a $2500 grant. Please come show your support for the fantastic plant-focused research that is being conducted by our members as well as for the new green wave at SICB! As for new programs, we will begin the tradition of “Botany Bites”, an opportunity for students and postdocs to sign up to have dinner with faculty members. This is a great way to receive mentoring and professional development support, as well as to spark scientific collaboration! We will also host morning Botany coffee meet ups to bring together our small, but growing community. You’ll receive an email closer to the meeting with instructions for how to register for these exciting programs. In the meantime, feel free to contact me (morgan.furze@yale.edu) with any questions or feedback. See you in 2020!

Gratuitous Plant Picture

Gratuitous plant picture of female Solanum ossicruentum (photo by Chris Martine).

Want to see your favorite plant here in the Spring 2020 Newsletter? Send a picture to Chris Muir (secretary.dob@sicb.org).

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