Division of Comparative Biomechanics

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Alice C. Gibb
Apr 23, 2019 · 17 min read

Message from the Chair, Stacey Combes, Chair.DCB@sicb.org

The Division of Comparative Biomechanics community came together at this year’s SICB meeting in Tampa with 260 DCB/DVM talks and 160 posters, a lively discussion at the DCB members’ meeting, a fun DCB/DVM social at American Social, and a successful new DCB/DVM game night. We extend a heartfelt thanks to the departing DCB chair, Sheila Patek, for all of her hard work and for the inspiring leadership she has provided to DCB over the past two years. We would also like to acknowledge the enormous work that both Sheila Patek and outgoing DVM chair John Hutchinson put into organizing and pulling off the DCB/DVM social — a difficult task given the limited budget and requirements for a social combining two of the largest and most vibrant divisions of SICB.

Congratulations to the DCB Best Student Presentation Award finalists and winners!

The best student presentation competition offered a remarkable glimpse into the up-and-coming research of the graduate students in our division. Finalists were chosen from a larger pool of students who submitted extended abstracts in September, and all of the finalists presented fascinating work.

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Eight finalists competed in the Best Student Talk competition! From left to right: Laura Matloff, Ratan Othayoth, Noah Bressman, Thomas Spencer, Mary Kate O’Donnell, Dror Malul, Melissa Kenny, and Jessica Tingle

We would like to thank Phil Anderson and the DCB BSP committee for their impeccable organization and the time they dedicated to this year’s competition. We are already looking forward to hearing from next year’s new talent.

The winners from the 2019 meeting in Tampa are:

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Olga Shishkov (left) won the Vogel award for Best Student Poster based on her work on black soldier fly larvae (right)

Carl Gans Award: Each year, DCB evaluates applications for the Carl Gans Award, which was established to recognize Carl Gans’ contributions to animal morphology, biomechanics, and functional biology. The Gans Award is given to 1) an outstanding young investigator in the field of comparative biomechanics and/or 2) an investigator at any career stage for a significant contribution to the literature of comparative biomechanics published in the preceding five calendar years.

The awardee receives a commemorative plaque at the DCB members’ meeting at SICB, reimbursement for travel expenses to the meeting, and the honor of joining the ranks of past Carl Gans Awardees, such as Misty Paig-Tran (this year’s winner), Brooke Flammang, Sharlene Santana, Chris Clark, and Eric Tytell. We would love to see more members of our growing, vibrant DCB community included in the nominee pool for this award, so please think about submitting an application or nominating one of your colleagues! Additional details about the Gans award here available online: http://sicb.org/membership/awards.php3#gans.

Elections: Every year, we hold elections to choose our next group of leaders for the Division of Comparative Biomechanics. This year, we will elect both a new Secretary and a new Program Officer for DCB, and will be accepting applications for a new DCB student-postdoc representative (further details on this below). Please take the time to read about your colleagues who have offered to serve as DCB Secretary and Program Officer, and cast your votes. We especially encourage student and post-doc members to vote — start shaping the future of your society now! Note that you do NOT need to have already paid your 2019 dues to vote — having attended the 2019 meeting in Tampa (or being a member in 2018) qualifies you to vote in the spring 2019 elections. We would also like to extend our thanks to Ty Hedrick and Bill Kier for serving on the Nominating Committee for the Secretary position and Kiisa Nishikawa, Lara Ferry, and Manny Azizi for serving on the Nominating Committee for the Program Officer position. We are so grateful for the excellent contributions from our members!

Biomechanics Early Career (BEC) Fellowship Program: We are excited to announce that DCB will be hosting a pilot peer mentoring circle program, with the goal of increasing retention and representation of female biomechanists at later academic career stages. This will be a competitive program in which five female, early career (late grad school or post-doc) scientists in the field of biomechanics will receive a three-year fellowship to participate in a peer mentoring circle program. The program will bring together the five fellows and two more senior DCB members (Stacey Combes and Andrew Mountcastle) for monthly video meetings, during which the group will discuss a variety of career-related topics and provide peer feedback on writing, oral presentations, job search strategies, work-life challenges, and career directions. The five fellows will receive generous funding to attend the SICB meeting all three years, to meet in person as a group and present their research to the DCB community. The fellowship program will culminate in a workshop to be held at the final year’s SICB meeting, focused on how peer mentoring circles help support career transitions and enhance retention of diverse scientists in academia — during which the five BEC Fellows will serve as panelists, sharing their experiences with the broader SICB community. Application materials will be posted during the summer and fellows chosen by early fall, so be on the lookout for an announcement and spread the word to any promising candidates you may know.

Message from the Program Officer, Phil Anderson, DPO.DCB@sicb.org

The 2019 conference in Tampa was another fantastic one for our division. Along with DVM, we sponsored 36 talk sessions with over 260 talks, hosted 160 posters and sponsored or co-sponsored 5 symposia. On top of this, we had a spectacular full-day special session on “Ekoehlogical Biomechanics: A Tribute to Mimi Koehl”. Altogether, this adds up to over 450 presentations on biomechanics and functional morphology that comprise over 20% of all presentations at the meeting. These numbers show the strength of our field and I want to thank all of you who presented and helped with the organization of symposia. Here’s to increasing those numbers again in Austin!

I also want to make special note of the 8 speakers and 3 poster presenters that comprised the finalists for the best student presentation and poster competitions. This is the fourth year of running this as a special session, and it was great to see the support given to these young biomechanics researchers from the division in the form of a full crowd during the talks. I also want to give special thanks to our five judges (Kristen Crandell, Stephanie Crofts, Thomas Roberts, Simon Sponberg, and Lindsay Waldrop) who were able to make difficult decisions efficiently, allowing us to name our winners at the DCB Members Meeting. I look forward to seeing the applicants for the next year’s competition.

Symposia for the 2020 national meeting: Speaking of next year, we will be down in Austin, TX, in early 2020. DCB will be sponsoring/co-sponsoring 6 symposia of interest:

  • Biology at the Cusp: Teeth as a Model Phenotype for Integrating Developmental Genomics, Biomechanics, and Ecology (Organized by Gareth Fraser and Darrin Hulsey);
  • Form, Structure and Function: How Plants vs. Animals Solve Physical Problems (Organized by Ulrike Muller, Simon Poppinga, and Anna Westermeier);
  • Bio-inspiration of Silent Flight of Owls and Other Flying Animals: Recent Advances and Unanswered Questions (Organized by Christopher Clark and Justin Jaworski);
  • Long Limbless Locomotors: the Mechanics and Biology of Elongate, Limbless Vertebrate Locomotion (Organized by Henry Astley);
  • Applied Functional Biology: Linking Ecological Morphology to Conservation and Management (Organized by Lance McBrayer, Eric McElroy, and Diego Sustaita);
  • Melding Modeling and Morphology: Integrating Approaches to Understand the Evolution of Form and Function (Organized by Lindsay Waldrop and Jonathan Rader).

Soliciting ideas for 2021 symposia: As explained in the division-wide email sent a couple weeks ago, we are actively soliciting anonymous ideas for future symposia to be sponsored by the division. The goal is to get an idea of what the division, as a whole, would be interested in seeing in future symposia. The Google Form site is still available if you have any ideas (http://bit.ly/DCB_Symposia2021). As a reminder, this is an anonymous document; you won’t be volunteering yourself to run anything. So far, we have received many suggestions including:

  • Functional and ecological morphology of insect attachment
  • Emergent physics in biological collectives*
  • Skeletal development in aquatic systems
  • Connecting biomechanics and behavior*
  • Sensorimotor control of maneuverability*

Ideas with an (*) have already had interest shown from individual members of the community. A full list of ideas will be circulated in a few weeks, well in advance of the proposal deadline in August.

Proposing a Symposium: If you are interested in officially proposing a symposium for the 2021 conference in Washington D.C., the deadline is August 23, 2019. The application form is available at http://sicb.org/meetings/2021/callsymp.php. This page includes links to the NSF guidelines for funding symposia and important criteria that the program officers use to evaluate proposals. Registration, lodging, and travel expenses for speakers can be funded a number of ways including divisional funds (usually from multiple divisions), grants from outside agencies, journals, publishers, and industry. These symposia are a great way to bring in researchers who don’t normally attend SICB. Please feel free to contact me if you plan to submit a proposal and I will do what I can to offer information and assistance.

Use of divisional funds: I highly recommend, when planning out your symposia, to identify multiple divisions to request sponsorship from. Each division receives a flat amount of money from SICB to use for symposium support. Divisions that have several symposia to fund, will have less funds to give to each. Asking for sponsorship from multiple divisions allows for more funding for your symposium.

Picking abstract topics: A final note — if you plan on giving a talk or poster at the 2020 meeting in Austin please give the Program Officers a hand by selecting a specific abstract topic during submission. The DCB and DVM program officers co-organize all biomechanics and functional morphology (and some comparative physiology) abstracts together. If you want us to handle your abstract, the best thing to do is select your primary topic from one of those under broad category B: ‘Morphology and Biomechanics’. This will insure that the abstract is flagged specifically for DCB/DVM.

I look forward to reading your abstracts and seeing everyone in Austin next year.

Message from the Secretary, Sandy Kawano, Secretary.DCB@sicb.org

2019 is in full swing and the DCB community already has plans for an eventful and productive year. Please see below for some of the latest announcements!

Funding to host meetings: Are you hosting a regional SICB meeting? If so, please let the DCB officers know. Divisions can allocate a small pot of money to offset the costs of hosting regional SICB meetings. Otherwise, the Company of Biologists has a Scientific Meeting Grant to support small or large meetings (https://www.biologists.com/grants/).

Steven Vogel Young Investigator Award: The Bioinspiration & Biomimetics journal began the Steve Vogel Young Investigator Award in 2017 to recognize the contributions of early career researchers in the fields of biomechanics and biomimetics. Early career researchers are considered those who are within 10 years of completing their Ph.D. but self-nominations are not accepted, so please nominate your colleagues! The deadline to apply is May 31, 2019. Additional information can be found online: https://iopscience.iop.org/journal/1748-3190/page/young-investigator-award.

National Biomechanics Day: Please join in a world-wide initiative to increase the visibility of biomechanics in the public eye! Biomechanists around the globe will be gathering to host public outreach events at their local institutions for high school instructors and students. This is a great opportunity to showcase biomechanics as a fun and engaging field of study and a potential career pathway for students. National Biomechanics Day is officially scheduled on April 10, 2019, but many events will be scheduled throughout the week. If you plan on hosting an event, please register your lab here: http://nationalbiomechanicsday.asbweb.org/registration/. We would love to highlight the wonderful work of our members, so please send any photos and descriptions of your National Biomechanics Day festivities to Secretary.DCB@sicb.org! In addition, awards will be given for public outreach activities with the Best Content and Greatest Impact. Contestants will be judged based on educational value, creativity of the content, participation, and event advertisement/coverage and have until April 30, 2019, to submit their entries.

Research and Education Resources: The SICB Research and Education Resources is a valuable conduit to share materials with other members and the biomechanics community has already made a big impact on this initiative. Have a protocol for a lab technique that might be useful for others? Perhaps you have an activity for a teaching lab that has been effective with students? Please consider contributing your material to the Research and Education Resources: http://www.sicb.org/rer/. These resources may be highly valuable to junior faculty starting new teaching labs or students who are looking to learn a new method. Sharing is caring!

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Brett Aiello, brett.aiello@physics.gatech.edu

Hello DCB colleagues! A special thank you to everyone for making the 2019 annual meeting in Tampa such a great success!

Social Media: The SICB joint DCB-DVM Twitter feed (@mechsNmorph) and the DCB Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/258733714665123/) are fully operational. We are using the SICB Twitter feed and Facebook group to post job advertisements, highlight the exceptional work of our division’s early career scientists, and inform the community of other relevant announcements, so please follow those feeds for more frequent updates!

Applications for new Student / Post-doc Rep: My appointment as DCB Student/Post-doc representative has reached its last term and will be complete at the end of the 2020 annual meeting. Thus, we are now starting the process to select the next DCB Student Post-Doctoral Affairs Committee (SPDAC) representative. The term will begin 01/2020 and end 01/2023. If you are interested in applying for this position, we are requesting the following information to assist in the selection process: (1) A current CV and (2) A brief statement of interest (no more than 200 words), including why you are applying for the position and what skills / ideas you would like to bring to the division. Please e-mail me (brett.aiello@physics.gatech.edu) this information by midnight (EST) on Sunday, April 28, 2019.

SPDAC Updates: The SICB SPDAC is already working on some exciting programs for the 2020 annual meeting! SPDAC will have an exhibit booth on a variety of topics (one topic per day) that should be helpful to the student and postdoc community.

We are still brainstorming topics, but ideas currently include: how to plan a symposium, how to write a teaching statement, etc. If there are any topics that you would like to see included, please reach out with all of your amazing suggestions as we want this to be as useful as possible for early career scientists!

The SPDAC brown bag workshop for the 2020 meeting will focus on the theme of transitions in science! At the workshop we will be discussing way to successfully transition between all levels of science (undergrad to graduate school, graduate school to postdoc, and the transition between any of these stages to a career in science). Please reach out if you have any further suggestions!

Please contact me by email (brett.aiello@physics.gatech.edu) or Twitter (@braiello; @mechsNmorph) with any suggestions, comments, concerns, or other feedback you might have regarding DCB.

Comparative Neuromuscular Biomechanics Seed Group

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Guest post from Jonas Rubenson:

“2019 sees the launch of the Comparative Neuromuscular Biomechanics ‘Seed Group’! The CNB is working towards establishing a new Technical Group of the International Society of Biomechanics. The CNB aims to increase the visibility of comparative biomechanics and neuromechanics at the ISB and to accelerate cross-pollination between comparative and human biomechanics fields.

The CNB is holding its inaugural symposium at the ISB-ASB 2019 Congress in Calgary: “Comparative biomechanics across organizational scales (tissues to whole body dynamics)”. This symposium will highlight a range of comparative studies across organizational scales from tissues to integrated systems and whole-body dynamics. Speakers will present innovative research in comparative animal biomechanics and neuromechanics, highlighting the potential applications of their findings in more applied fields such as human sports science and rehabilitation, bio-inspired robotics and human-assistive devices.

“Comparative biomechanics across organizational scales” Symposium Speakers:

  • Monica Daley (Royal Vet. College, UK) & Craig McGowan (University of Idaho), Chairs
  • Mariana Kersh (University of Illinois)
  • Spencer Lake (Washington University, St Louis, USA)
  • Natalie Holt (Northern Arizona University, USA)
  • Manny Azizi (UC Irvine)
  • Kiisa Nishikawa (Northern Arizona U, USA)
  • Greg Sawicki (Georgia Tech, USA)
  • Stacey Shield (U. Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Christian Hubicki (Florida State U, USA)

    In addition, a second CNB-affiliated symposium will be held at ISB-ASB 2019, entitled “Using musculoskeletal modelling in comparative biomechanics”.

    “Using musculoskeletal modelling in comparative biomechanics” Symposium Speakers:
  • Christofer Clemente (University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia) and Taylor Dick (University of Queensland, Australia), Chairs
  • Jonas Rubenson (Penn State, USA)
  • Friedl De Groote (KU Leuven, Belgium)
  • James Charles (University of Liverpool, UK)
  • Ashley Heers (Cal State University, Los Angeles, USA)

    The CNB is hosting a business meeting on Thursday August 1st at the ISB-ASB 2019 Congress; all are welcome! The meeting will discuss the Group’s mission, draft constitution and future symposia, among other topics. The CNB will be seeking nominations for elected board positions later in 2019.

    For information regarding the CNB, including information on symposia, the CNB board, membership and contact information please visit: https://sites.psu.edu/cnbgroup/

    Looking forward to seeing you in Calgary!” -Jonas Rubenson

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

Candidates for Program Officer

Matt McHenry

Current Position: Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Irvine, U.S.A.

Education: Ph.D., Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley (2002; Advisor: Mimi Koehl); and M.A., Biology and Art, Vassar College (1995; Advisor: John H Long Jr.).

Professional Experience: After postdocs with George Lauder (Harvard) and Sietse van Netten (Univ. of Groningen), I established my lab at UC Irvine in 2005.

SICB Activities: Lifetime Member; regular attendant of SICB meetings since 1992; winner of three awards for talks as a student; Chair of the Gans Award Committee (2018); organizer of a Southwest regional meeting (2014); co-organizer of symposia (2010, 2013); Chair of the Best Student Paper committee in DCB (2009); Student Grant-in-Aid of Research (2006, 2007); and judge for the DVM Dwight Davis Award (2003, 2004).

Other Memberships:
Sigma Xi, American Physical Society.

Research Interests: I am interested in the biomechanics and sensory biology of animal locomotion.

Goals Statement: My aim will be to generate a schedule with as few conflicting sessions in biomechanics as humanly possible.

Ted Uyeno

Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Valdosta State University (2011- Present).

Education: Ph.D. Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007), M.Sc., Zoology University of Calgary (1999), B.Sc., Biology University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada (1997).

Professional Experience: Post-doctoral research associate, Northern Arizona University (2007–2011).

SICB Activities: DCB & DIZ Best student talk and poster judge (2008–2017), speaker “Soft bodies, hard jaws” symposium (2015). SICB Best student poster award (2005), American Microscopical Society summer research fellowship (2001).

Other Memberships: American Physiological Society (AZ chapter), Georgia Academy of Science, American Microscopical Society, American Malacological Society, Society for Experimental Biology, Sigma Xi.

Research Interests: My research area in the field of comparative biomechanics centers on the form, function, and control of structures made of deformable tissues that are primarily found in soft-bodied marine invertebrates. I enjoy working at the intersection between invertebrate biology and physics/mechanical engineering. Many soft-bodied animals interact with their environment to feed, survive, and reproduce without benefit of using continuously rigid materials. In these cases, their deformable constructions must not only provide motive force, but also generate structural support. This is often accomplished using hydrostatic means involving turgor generated by compressing encapsulated fluids. I am currently interested in resolving how hagfish tie their bodies into knots and how many invertebrates control joints that incorporate muscular hydrostats (known as muscle articulations). My students and I describe anatomy using techniques such as histology and microscopy, x-ray imaging, and 3D imaging. We test functional postulates using high-speed videography, electromyography, and by building both physical and virtual models.

Goals Statement: The first scientific conference I ever attended was twenty years ago. I was a Master’s student and I travelled to Denver, CO, to attend the snowy meetings. I remember the rush of rubbing elbows with my personal scientific heroes. As such, as the DCB program officer I would strive to continue and, if possible, strengthen our tradition of student support. Second, I would encourage workshops that promote professional development in both the fields of teaching and research. Third, I would like to continue past efforts to encourage novel symposia and workshops that support cross-disciplinary networking and drives innovation among our diverse colleagues. Finally, I would like to investigate ways that the office of the program officer could support public embrace of science knowledge and to broaden participation of people from all walks of life.

Candidates for Secretary

Kristen Crandell

Current Position: Lecturer & Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Bangor University, United Kingdom.

Education: Ph.D., Organismal Biology & Ecology, University of Montana (2009–2015); and B.A., Biology & Mathematics, Lewis & Clark College (2005–2009).

Professional Experience: Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Bangor University (2018-present), Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Bangor University (2017 — present), Postdoctoral Fellow, Cambridge University (2015–2017), Research Fellow, Darwin College, Cambridge University (2016–2017), NASA Graduate Student Fellow (2010–2012).

SICB Activities: Judge for the DCB Best Student Presentations (2019); assisted with organizing the SICB London regional meeting (2018); and Honorable Mention, DCB Koehl & Wainwright Award (2016).

Other Memberships: Society for Experimental Biology, Sigma Xi, International Society of Vertebrate Morphologists.

Research Interests: My research involves exploring the evolutionary and ecological consequences of mechanical constraints. My current research projects examine (1) aeroecology and biomechanics of avian flight using field-based approaches, (2) how physical properties of the environment affect form and function in terrestrial organisms, and (3) how phenotypic plasticity contributes to functional diversity in fish. My work capitalizes on techniques such as high-speed videography, XROMM, force plates, PIV, and accelerometry. Additional information here: http://www.kriscrandell.com.

Goals Statement: SICB has been a powerful positive influence on my career, since my first meeting as an undergraduate in 2009. I would love the opportunity to give back to this society. As secretary, I plan to continue facilitating open lines of communication between the division and the membership via the newsletter and social media avenues. I hope to continue the excellent work of our current secretary, Sandy Kawano, who has facilitated a network of resource and opportunity sharing across DCB. I aim to grow active engagement with the society within student, postdoc, and Early Career Researcher members.

Emily Kane

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Biology Department, Georgia Southern University, U.S.A.

Education: Ph.D. Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, University of California, Riverside (2014); M.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University (2009); and B.S. Marine Science with Biology concentration, Southampton College of Long Island University (2006).

Professional Experience: Assistant Professor, Biology Department, Georgia Southern University (2017 — present); NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Colorado State University (2014–2016).

SICB Activities: Member of SICB (2006 — present); active in DVM, DCB, and DEE (e.g., attending business meetings, socials, and workshops and judging student oral/poster presentations); and co-organizer for the “Multifunctional structures and multistructural functions: Functional coupling and integration in the evolution of biomechanical systems” symposium in Tampa, FL (2019).

Other Memberships: Sigma Xi; Society for the Study of Evolution.

Research Interests: Evolutionary and ecological biomechanics; I am currently using freshwater guppies and sunfish as model systems to understand how feeding and locomotor systems work together during predator-prey interactions.

Goals Statement: As a long-time SICB member, I am eager to get involved with SICB in new ways. As an officer of DCB, I will help advance the goals of the division and its members while also serving as a direct line of communication between the division and its membership. I believe that communicating science is a vital part of our roles as teachers and researchers and I continually strive to find new and creative ways to promote science. As secretary, I will not only serve as the communicator of society business, but will also look for new ways to help our membership communicate their work beyond the SICB audience. DCB has done an incredible job supporting the scholarship of our members and I look forward to contributing to that success in the future!

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