Division of Ecoimmunology and Disease Ecology

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Alice C. Gibb
Apr 23, 2019 · 13 min read

Message from the Chair, Travis Wilcoxen, chair.dede@sicb.org

Thanks to all of you who participated in the 2019 SICB Annual Meeting in Tampa. It was great to see many of you and to learn about the great science coming from your research teams. The 2019 meeting marked my first meeting as Chair of DEDE, and I want to take this time to thank everyone for their work on behalf of the division. The other officers, the student oral presentation and poster judges, the symposium organizers, and those who contributed to the general program have all represented DEDE well and helped to grow and strengthen the division. Special thanks to Greg Demas, who completed his term as DEDE Program Officer and Jim Adelman who completed his term as DEDE Secretary. Both Greg and Jim were excellent in their officer roles.

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Tampa streetcar (photo credit: SICB student photographer)

To ensure that the division remains strong, we need members to take over officer roles when existing officers rotate out. To that end, we will be electing officers every year into their officer-elect position, in which the elected member will serve for a full year prior to taking over as an officer at the end of the subsequent meeting. As you will see in this newsletter, we need to elect a Program Officer-Elect, who will take over as Program Officer of the division following the 2021 meeting in Washington, DC, and a Secretary-Elect who will take over as Secretary at the end of that annual meeting as well. With the exception of students and post-docs, anyone who feels called to serve and help lead this division is encouraged to let me, or any of the other officers, know of your interest in a role as an officer so that we may discuss the responsibilities of that position with you and work towards getting your candidate profile in the newsletter and your name on the ballot. As you can see from our current and past officer slates and candidate profiles, officers come from large universities, small universities, government agencies, and other research institutions. We simply need people who genuinely care about the future of DEDE and who are willing to commit some of their time to leading us into that future.

At our 2019 DEDE Business Meeting in Tampa, we voted to make changes to our Best Student Paper program and these will soon be shared on our DEDE webpage. As was the case with the 2019 meeting, we plan to choose eight students to compete in the Best Student Paper oral presentation into a single session at the 2020 meeting. To narrow that session down to just eight presenters, we will ask for students to submit an extended abstract in order to be eligible for selection for that session. The Best Student Paper poster competition will continue to be open to all students who submit abstracts and check the box that expresses their commitment to the competition.

Our Lunch with an Ecoimmunologist program at the 2019 meeting was successful, and I encourage DEDE members to participate in those activities in the future. I was one of the PI’s in this program in 2018 in San Francisco and I met with three early-career ecoimmunologists. We had a very productive conversation about career goals and career paths over breakfast. While I hope I offered valuable input, the interactions among the other three participants were clearly of great value to each of them as they continue to develop their own understanding of their (sometimes simultaneous) roles as mentee and mentor. Many thanks to our Student/Post Doc Representative Ashley Love for coordinating those activities for the 2019 meeting.

Finally, I encourage each of our members to utilize social media outlets to promote activities and research from division members. The sharing of short, informative summaries of the presentations onto social media platforms allows us to reach additional ecoimmunologists and disease ecologists who have not yet joined SICB or who have not joined DEDE.

Have an excellent 2019 and I will see you in Austin!

Message from the Program Officer, Cynthia Downs, dpo.dede@sicb.org

The annual meeting in Tampa was a huge success with 2,577 abstracts and 2,531 pre-registered attendees. DEDE hosted 39 talks across 6 sessions and 38 posters across 3 sessions. This year marked a change in how DEDE organized the Best Student Oral Presentation Competition. A panel chose 8 finalists from the abstracts submitted, and those finalists were scheduled to present in a single session of the meeting. We’ll continue this practice for future meetings, so keep it in mind. The process for DEDE Best Student Poster remains unchanged, and those posters will continue to be presented in topical poster sessions. In Tampa, DEDE co-sponsored three symposia: (1) The scale of sickness: how immune variation across space and species affects infectious disease dynamics, organized by Daniel Becker, Laura Schoenle, Cynthia Down, and Lynn Martin; (2) Chemical responses to the biotic and abiotic environment by early diverging metazoans revealed in the post-genomic age, organized by Paul Long, Laura Mydlarz, and Beth Okamura; and (3) The world is not flat: Accounting for the dynamic nature of the environment as we move beyond static experimental manipulations organized, organized by Timothy Greives and Rachel Bowden. Along with all other SICB divisions, we also contributed to a fourth symposium Integrative Plant Biology hosted by Matt Ogburn and Erika Edwards. The papers associated with the presented talks will come out in Integrative and Comparative Biology this year. Keep an eye out! Thank you to Greg Demas who served as DEDE Program Officer for the past two years and, in that role, helped organize the meeting in Tampa. I began my term as Program Officer at the end of the 2019 meeting and look forward to building upon the foundation Greg and previous program officers developed for DEDE’s program contributions to SICB’s annual meeting.

SICB 2020 in Austin, TX is shaping up to be another outstanding meeting. I’m excited to announce that DEDE will be sponsoring 3 symposia for the 2020 meeting in Austin Texas: (1) Reproduction: the female perspective from an integrative and comparative framework, organized by Virginia Hayssen and Teri Orr; (2) Building bridges from genome to phenome: molecules, methods and models, organized by Karen Burnett, Jonathon Stillman, Donald Mykles, and David Durica; and (3) Integrative comparative cognition: can neurobiology and neurogenomics inform comparative analyses of cognitive phenotype? organized by Yuxiang Liu and Sarah Burmeister. The full list of all 11 symposia can be found on the meeting page at the SICB website.

To ensure that DEDE continues to grow and thrive, it is important that DEDE members continue to host ecoimmune/disease-related symposia. We are now soliciting proposals for symposia for the 2021 meeting in Washington, DC. Symposia are eligible for NSF funding, and symposia that have complementary sessions/associated workshops and invite speakers from diverse institutions across a range of career stages are more likely to receive NSF funding. If you have an idea, email me at dpo.dede@sicb.org or the SICB program officer (Susan Williams) at programofficer@sicb.org for more details. It’s never too early to start building support for your idea. I particularly encourage senior graduate students and post-docs to submit proposals. A symposium is an excellent way to network with researchers in your field, to highlight a research area you think is exciting, and to help shape the future of the program at SICB.

Thank you for your ongoing participation and support DEDE events and thanks to all those who volunteered to judge student presentations. See you in Austin!

Message from the Secretary, Ken Field, secretary.dede@sicb.org

What a great meeting in Tampa. I was reminded what a great meeting SICB is for students, especially because of the generous support of the Charlotte Mangum Program. Bucknell University had 5 students present posters or talks and it was a great experience for each of them. The Austin meeting will be another great opportunity to bring students to this supportive and interdisciplinary group.

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Greg Albery

Speaking of students, the oral and poster presentations by the DEDE participants were outstanding. The judges had a difficult task in choosing just two winners:

Best Student Oral Presentation: Greg Albery, University of Edinburgh Institute of Evolutionary Biology, Moredun Research Institute, Scotland, UK, “The Landscape of Immunity in a Wild Ungulate Population”.

Best Student Poster: Alison Webb, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA, “Interactions of behavior, temperature, and metabolism in response to an immune challenge in side-blotched lizards, Uta stansburiana”.

Alison Webb

Thanks to all who served as judges. I also want to thank the candidates who have agreed to stand for election for the Secretary and Program Officer positions. Please participate in the election — all members are eligible to vote, including student and post-doc members. If you are interested in becoming more involved in the organization, please contact me. In addition to these important elected positions there are other ways to support SICB and the DEDE division.

Lastly, I want to thank Jim Adelman, for his great service to SICB as the previous Divisional Secretary. He made it easy to take over the reins. I look forward to seeing everyone again in Austin!

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

Secretary-Elect Candidates

Sarah Knutie

Sarah A. Knutie

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut

Education: B.S. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2006); M.S. University of Tulsa (2009); Ph.D. University of Utah (2014)

Professional Experience: Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary; Biology, University of Connecticut (2017-Present); Post-doctoral Researcher, Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida (2014–2017).

SICB activities: Member of DEDE (2014-Present); DEDE Best Student Presentation Judge (2015, 2017, 2019); DEDE Best Student Presentation Organizer (2017); Lunch with an Ecoimmunologist Mentor (2019); SICB Broadening Participation Mentor (2019); Symposium participant (New Orleans, LA, 2017); ICB reviewer (2017).

Other Memberships: American Ornithological Society, American Society of Parasitologists, Ecological Society of America

Research Interests: The research in my lab spans both fundamental and applied ideas in disease ecology. We use field- and captive-based studies, combined with advanced molecular techniques, to understand the evolutionary ecology of host defenses against parasites, especially in response to environmental change. Currently, my lab has three main focuses, which include studying: 1) the effect of an invasive parasitic nest fly on Galapagos Island birds and whether urbanization affects these host-parasite interactions, 2) how long-term environmental change affects host resistance and tolerance to ectoparasites in a box-nesting bird system, and 3) how the host microbiota mediates the effect of pesticides on developmental immunity and disease risk in a model system. https://www.knutielab.com

Goals Statement: I would be proud to serve as the SICB DEDE secretary because this division has been my main societal home since its conception. I believe that the DEDE represents an ever growing home for disease ecologists and ecoimmunologists at every level of the profession. As a division leader, I will be committed to communicating DEDE news and content to its members. I will also continue to support activities for undergraduate and graduate student involvement in DEDE, which includes support to increase diversity and inclusion.

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Patricia Lopes

Patricia C. Lopes

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Biology, Chapman University, Orange, CA.

Education: Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley (2012); B.S. University of Coimbra, Portugal (2006).

Professional Experience: Assistant Professor of Biology, Chapman University (2017-present); Postdoctoral Associate, University of Zurich, Switzerland (2013–2017); Research Assistant, Gulbenkian Institute of Science, Portugal (2007).

SICB Activities: Member of SICB since 2008 and of DEDE since its inception. Session chair (2019); Lunch with a Comparative Endocrinologist (2019); Judge for Best Student Paper (DAB in 2013, and DEDE in 2019); Student worker (2009);

Other Memberships: Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, Animal Behavior Society

Research Interests: I am interested in understanding how disease affects behavior, how behavioral interactions affect the immune response, and how these factors combine to contribute to disease transmission. I use my background in neuroendocrinology to study how the immune system and the brain communicate to affect changes in behavior.

Goals Statement: When I asked my undergraduate student about her first experience at SICB this fall, she replied that “There were entire fields of study (and animals for that matter) that I learned about that I didn’t even know existed. And seeing so many different backgrounds, perspectives and how many unanswered research questions there still are made me even more excited to continue doing biology research!” — SICB inspires me in the same way! As the Secretary for DEDE, I would be thrilled to disseminate the very inspiring work that the community is doing through the newsletter, as well as through social media. In addition to continuing our existing communication strategies, I would like to attract new members to the division by profiling our existing members and their research, as well as promoting DEDE sessions and events at the annual meeting. I also am deeply interested in promoting undergraduate student involvement in this Division, with a strong focus on broadening participation of underrepresented groups. I have been excited to observe the growth of the division and I want to contribute to its continued success as Secretary.

Program Officer-Elect Candidates (vote here: http://sicb.org/elections/2019.php)

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Anna Forsman

Anna M. Forsman

Current Position: Coordinator of Research Programs, Genomics & Bioinformatics Cluster, University of Central Florida

Education: B.S. The College of William and Mary (2002); M.S. Illinois State University (2007); Ph.D. Cornell University (2016)

Professional Experience: Coordinator of Research Programs, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL (2016-present); Research Technician and Acting Director, Microarray Core Lab, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH (2002–2004).

SICB Activities: Member of SICB since 2006, DEDE since 2014. DEDE Best Student Paper Judge 2018, 2019.

Other Memberships: American Association of University Women, American Ornithological Society

Research Interests: My research interests lie at the intersection of ecoimmunology and microbial ecology. Specifically, I use genomics approaches to understand the multi-directional interactions and emergent properties arising from associations between microbial communities and their wild vertebrate hosts. Current projects include characterizing various animal- associated microbial communities including the gut microbiome of wild birds, sea turtles, manatees, mice, and humans, the skin microbiome of amphibians, and the nest microbiome of tree swallows, to address questions pertaining to colonization, assembly and succession, and microbial biogeography. From a host perspective, these data are used to understand how microbiome composition and diversity interact with the host immune system to influence the development and expression of host defenses and immune investment across generations.

Goals Statement: I gave my very first conference presentation at SICB in 2006 and I have continued to attend on a regular basis because of our strong and supportive ecoimmunology group, which since has become the DEDE division. I now encourage my own students to attend so that they may benefit from these same opportunities for developing their communication, networking, and professional skills within such an integrative community. It would be my pleasure to serve as Program Officer for DEDE so that I may play an active role in the organization of this meeting that has been so important to me during my own training and career development. I am a strong proponent of undergraduate research and peer-mentorship across career stages, both of which are well-represented at SICB.

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Laura Mydlarz

Laura D. Mydlarz

Current position: Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Biology, University of Texas, Arlington

Education: B.Sc. Florida Atlantic University (1996); M.Sc. Florida Atlantic University (1998); Ph.D. University of California-Santa Barbara (2004)

Professional experience: Professor (thru all ranks since 2007) and Associate Chair (since 2015), Department of Biology, UT Arlington, Post-doctoral Associate, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (2004–2006)

SICB Activities: Meeting attendee since 2005. Member of DEDE and candidate for Secretary 2017. Faculty sponsor/mentor for graduate student presentations, invited speaker in “Ecological Immunology: Recent Advances and Applications for Conservation and Public Health Symposia, Orlando, FL, 2005.” Symposia Organizer and speaker with NSF support for Symposia 9 at the 2019 meeting “Chemical Responses to the Biotic and Abiotic Environment by Early Diverging Metazoans Revealed in the Post-genomic Age.”

Other Memberships: I am an active member of the International Society for Reef Studies.

Research Interests: I am a coral reef researcher specializing in coral immunology and eco-immunology. The focus of my lab is to integrate coral immunity in an ecological framework. We want to understand the variability in immunity between species, populations and individuals and how life history and the environment have shaped these differences.

Goals Statement: I am excited to serve as Program Officer for Division of Ecoimmunology and Disease Ecology. I look forward to continuing the hard work of existing DEDE leadership to continue the growth of the division by increasing membership and retention, broadening participation, engaging graduate students and post-docs, and recruiting novel symposia and amazing talks. I will work hard as DEDE program officer to recruit cutting edge symposia ideas and help symposia organizers attract internal and external funding and organize their schedules. I will also advocate for DEDE when organizing the annual meeting schedules and making sure there is equal representation of women and underrepresented groups and early career scientists in our speakers, award winners and judges. The DEDE division plays an important role in uniting the many disease and ecoimmunity communities doing relevant research, from marine to terrestrial systems, from invertebrates to vertebrate models. As Program Officer I will also make sure these diverse systems and approaches are well represented in our sessions. Attending SICB conferences is typically the highlight of my and my students travel schedule, so I look forward to being involved in continuing the successes of DEDE.

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