Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology

Alice C. Gibb
Nov 1 · 8 min read

Fall Newsletter 2019

Message from the Chair, Kim Hoke, Chair.DEDB@sicb.org

Your SICB program officers have planned another exciting meeting! Austin is going to be a great location for the meeting, offering tons of music and food near the conference center when you are ready for a break. Insiders tip: you can actually take a pretty decent city bus from the airport to near the meeting venue. We’ve got a great set of symposia, as detailed in Matt Rockman’s program update below. We’re looking forward to our DEDB best student presentations — see Prashant Sharma’s update & please volunteer to judge posters or talks if you can. Also, we’re once again having our very popular Evo-Devo dinner date. As usual, we need faculty or postdocs willing to serve as mentors. See Amaneet Lochab’s update below.

Left: DEDB Chair Kim Hoke. Right: Among other charismatic animals, the guppy Poecilia reticulata is a focal study system in investigations of behavioral evolution in the Hoke Lab.

Special this year at upcoming 2020 Meeting in Austin is a workshop organized by Dede Lyons and Mansi Srivastava. The organizers send this message: The workshop is in honor of the retirement of Dr. Stan Rachootin, David and Lucy Stewart Professor of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College. Since joining the Mount Holyoke College Faculty in 1984 as an Assistant Professor, Dr. Rachootin has trained a generation of women scientists, with particular emphasis on macro-evolution, EcoEvoDevo (before it had a catchy moniker), and the History of Science. Dr. Rachootin served as mentor for dozens of research projects with an exceptional range, from social behavior in ants to fluctuating asymmetry in fish to historical studies reconstructing 19th century biology. The workshop will feature talks by former students, and we invite the SICB community to join us to celebrate Stan’s legacy of training women in integrative and comparative biology. The workshop begins at 1 pm on January 3rd, before the official start of the Annual SICB meeting, so be sure to arrive in Austin early that day to join us.

A special workshop in Austin will honor Dr. Stan Rachootin’s career, scholarship, and mentorship of junior scientists.

I’d also like to welcome Leslie Babonis, our new DEDB secretary-elect starting at this year’s meeting. Speaking of elections, DEDB needs to elect a new chair and new program officer in 2020 to take over after Dede Lyons and Matt Rockman. We have quite a few opportunities to join the leadership team, so please think about running or nominating someone. To pull together the applicants we need, all of our program officers will act as a nominating committee — me, Matt Rockman, Prashant Sharma, Dede Lyons, Leslie Babonis, and Amaneet Lochab. If you have any ideas in mind, please contact any one of us for more information about responsibilities and timing or to suggest a nominee.

Message from the Program Officer, Matt Rockman, DPO.DEDB@sicb.org

January in Austin! The program is set and now is the time to make your arrangements for SICB 2020. Our division has a terrific lineup of talk, posters, symposia, and workshops. I’m particularly looking forward to the DEDB Best Student Paper session on the afternoon of Saturday, January 4.

Every day of the conference includes a symposium of special interest to our division. These include Saturday’s “Biology at the Cusp,” all about teeth as a model phenotype, Sunday’s “Reproduction: the female perspective,” Monday’s “Building Bridges from Genome to Phenome,” and Tuesday’s “Melding Modeling and Morphology.”

There will also be several workshops for DEDB members. On Friday, Jan. 3, DEDB stalwarts Dede Lyons and Mansi Srivastava are holding a workshop to honor the retirement of their undergraduate mentor, Mt. Holyoke’s Stan Rachootin. On Monday, Jan. 6, DEDB members might enjoy the roundtable discussion on challenges for testing gene function in post-embryonic life stages, organized by annelid authorities Alexa Bely, Doygu Özpolat, and Elaine Seaver. And we, like members of all SICB divisions, will benefit from the Saturday workshop on mentorship and sponsorship.

The meeting will be held at the JW Mariott in downtown Austin. You can get more information about the hotel reservation by visiting https://burkclients.com/sicb/meetings/2020/site/hotel.html. This site also contains information about transportation via SuperShuttle, parking options, and discount codes for SICB members to use while visiting Austin.

Left: DEDB Program Officer Matthew Rockman. Right: The mudflats of Newark Bay, New Jersey, are home to a diverse array of annelids, mollusks, garbage, and sometimes geese. The Rockman Lab studies the developmental variation in polychaete worms that live in the mud (inset

While at the meeting, be sure to come to the DEDB Members Meeting, 5:45 on Saturday, January 4. Formerly called a “business meeting,” which may sound boring and uninviting, but this is really a divisional membership meeting, a great chance to say hi to folks working in evolution and development, and to help shape the future of our division and our society. For more quality time with the DEDB gang, come to the DEDB Social on Monday night, held in concert with our friends from several other divisions. I can tell you authoritatively that JW Marriott knows how to make an appetizer.

Upcoming deadlines (registration and childcare)

  • If you are presenting at the SICB 2020 meeting, please remember that the presenter registration deadline is November 6, 2019. For everyone else, the early fee deadline is December 4, 2019.
  • We are also trying to accommodate family needs and the 2020 meeting venue will again sponsor free childcare for attendees. If you need childcare, please visit the SICB child care website for information (https://burkclients.com/sicb/meetings/2020/site/childcare.html). Please note that the deadline to register your child or children by email (preferredsitter@gmail.com) is December 4.

The conference promises to be very exciting and memorable, and I am looking forward to seeing many of you in January! In the meantime, if you have any questions about the program, please feel free to contact me.

Message from the Secretary, Prashant Sharma, Secretary.DEDB@sicb.org

Thank you to Matt Rockmann and the other program officers for putting together the 2020 program! I’m looking forward to a fantastic annual meeting in Austin.

Left: DEDB Secretary Prashant Sharma. Right: Students in the Sharma lab are investigating the development of tarantulas. The embryonic stages shown here are of the Oklahoma brown tarantula, Aphonopelma hentzi.

New Officers — In the spring we held elections for the next DEDB Secretary. Congratulations to Leslie Babonis, our new Secretary-Elect! Leslie will start serving in the position after the 2021 annual meeting. Please stop by the divisional members meeting in Tampa to congratulate Leslie.

Students: Free Dinner and Networking Opportunity! — SICB is a society that genuinely values the participation and contributions of our junior members. For the last six years, we have instituted a program to help encourage increased interaction between students and faculty. The “Evo-Devo Dinner Date” program brings students and faculty members together for informal conversation and a meal on the faculty members’ dime. Amaneet highlights this program in her updates below for students, but I also want to encourage faculty to keep an eye out for an email from Amaneet with sign-up information as the annual meeting approaches. I strongly encourage students to sign up for the dinner dates around registration for the Austin meeting and meet some of the DEDB faculty — these interactions once proved important for me in building a professional network, finding mentors, and engaging with some of my role models in evo-devo. For students, I hope you will find the program equally helpful in the first steps of your careers.

Best Student Presentation Oral Session — Now in its fifth year, please join us for our special session devoted to the Best Student Oral Presentation in evolutionary developmental biology. This student session will be a dedicated part of our program and commitment to professional development for junior scientists. We had several abstracts submitted for the session already and we plan to select approximately eight abstracts for this session. We always receive more outstanding and deserving abstracts than we can fit into this particular session, so please be on the lookout for amazing student talks and posters on evo-devo throughout the program!

Faculty: Want to help DEDB? In a couple of weeks, I will be looking for volunteers to judge the Oral and Poster student competitions. Please considering serving in this important role. Judging is an excellent way to support and encourage the newest members of our division. In addition, please consider signing up to meet with students for the Evo-Devo Dinner Date program.

At the meeting. One of the goals of the division’s officers in the next few months will be to strengthen the accessibility of mentorship networks and promote engagement throughout the division, through such venues as the divisional meetings and the DEDB social. Please keep an eye out in Austin as we implement new ideas and measures to bring DEDB together, as well as solicit your input as to how the division can serve the needs of its members. Minutes of our divisional meeting in January 2019 are published on the SICB website.

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Amaneet Lochab, alochab@g.harvard.edu

Hi students and postdocs, I hope you’re excited for the upcoming meeting in Austin, Texas!

DEDB SPDAC Rep Amaneet Lochab

This year we will continue the “Evo-Devo Dinners” and “Evo-Devo Coffee Meetups” to facilitate interactions between students, postdocs and faculty in our division. These are great opportunities to discuss research and career opportunities at the meeting. Faculty members and postdocs can volunteer to take students out for dinner and/or coffee, and students can sign up to meet faculty and postdocs of their choice based on research interests. If you have signed up for the meeting by early November and have selected DEDB as one of your affiliations, you’ll receive an email about this in early November. If you would like to participate, and have not received an email by mid-November, please email me (alochab@g.harvard.edu) and I can sign you up.

During the meeting, remember to stop by the SPDAC (Student and Postdoctoral Affairs Committee) booth to meet other scientists, and get information on topics aimed at students and postdocs (e.g. making elevator pitches, writing symposium proposals, grant writing, and more!). The SPDAC will also be hosting a “Transitions in Science” workshop during the meeting where you can talk to scientists in different career stages about making career transitions in science (e.g. undergrad to grad school, grad school to postdoc, postdoc to faculty, etc.).

As always, please feel free to get in touch with any comments, concerns, and ideas you have for our division. I’d love to hear your thoughts! This will be my last meeting as the DEDB student/postdoc rep and I’ve enjoyed serving this community in this role. I’m looking forward to introducing you to the new DEDB student/postdoc rep in the spring.

That’s all for now! I hope to see you in Austin!

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