Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Kim Hoke, Chair DEDB

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

I’d like to start out by thanking all DEDB officers, presenters, and attendees for making SICB 2019 in Tampa so successful. I’d especially like to thank all the student participants in the DEDB best student presentation contest for sharing their exciting research. Congratulations to our award winners, Phil Grayson for an inspiring oral presentation and Mandy Cumming for a great poster presentation. Updates below include a lot more information about the science and events at the Tampa meeting.

DEDB student/postdoc representative Amaneet Lochab expanded networking options this year with the DEDB dinner dates & coffee meetups, in which faculty and postdocs take out grad students. Adding the coffee dates expanded networking spots, allowing Amaneet to match 39 total students in 56 connections. Postdocs participated as mentors for the first time this year, with great feedback. Let us know what would help you participate in this networking opportunity next year, whether a broader range of timing options, different means of requesting your participation, or DEDB reimbursement for costs.

The Tampa Convention Center (photo credit: SICB student photographer)

The SICB executive committee has focused a lot in recent years on broadening participation at the annual meeting. This year, SICB offset the costs of child care at the conference. The new child care options were a huge success, and the executive committee is committed to continuing this program. We discussed several other issues in making SICB an even more welcoming and inclusive society, so expect more updates. One initiative is that we are enacting a policy to increase diversity in speakers, in which you can play a role by nominating more speakers and award winners.

As always, ideas for symposia for upcoming meetings are always welcome — and easier to organize now that the society reimburses full registration costs for symposium participants who submit ICB manuscripts. If you have an idea, please contact any of the SICB officers as early as possible. We can help find co-organizers if you need suggestions, and we can offer plenty of advice on preparing successful symposium applications and applying for funding. Chair-elect Dede Lyons organized a symposium as a postdoc, and she’d be very happy to discuss strategies for postdocs to take advantage of this great professional development opportunity. SICB symposium applications for the 2021 meeting in Washington, DC are due on August 23 of this year. New this year, we are instituting a more formal procedure for workshops, with applications due July 1 for the 2020 meeting in Austin so that the program committee can properly organize space and food for your workshops.

Several conferences this summer that might interest DEDB members. The Evolution meeting this year takes place in Providence, Rhode Island from June 21–25. The Society for Developmental Biology is holding their annual meeting in Boston this summer from July 26–30. You can leave right from there to fly to Miami for the Pan-American Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology meeting from July 30 — August 2.

Finally, the SICB conference each year also marks transitions in your divisional officers. Thank you so much to Yui Suzuki and Julia Bowsher for all of their work as DEDB program officer (Yui) and DEDB secretary (Julia). Their knowledge, organization, and efforts made a big difference behind the scenes to keep our division running smoothly and to ensure high quality scientific presentations and networking opportunities. We welcome Matt Rockman as our new program officer and Prashant Sharma as DEDB secretary. Also, this year we are electing a new secretary to take over from Prashant in two years. We’ve got two dedicated SICB members, Leslie Babonis and Brad Davidson, who’ve agreed to be our candidates in this election. Please read their statements and participate in the election — and thanks to Leslie and Brad for their willingness to serve the division.

Message from the Program Officer, Matthew Rockman, programofficer.dedb@sicb.org

I’m happy to step into the role of program officer, knowing well that it will be impossible to match the exceptional work Yuichiro Suzuki, who has served the division for the past three years. Many thanks, Yui!

The 2019 meeting in Tampa was full of terrific presentations in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. I particularly enjoyed the talks in the DEDB-sponsored symposia, including those on “Allometry, Scaling, and Ontogeny of Form,” and “Integrative Plant Biology.”

Remarkably, planning for the 2020 meeting in Austin is well under way. While the deadline for contributed talks and posters is still many months away, the deadline for workshops is coming right up. Workshops offer an opportunity to bring people together for interactive or hands-on activities. If you would like to put together a DEDB-themed workshop for the Austin meeting, I can help. Our deadline will be July 1, so please get in touch well in advance.

In the meantime, we can look forward to the DEDB-sponsored symposia in Austin:

  • Melding Modeling and Morphology: integrating approaches to understand the evolution of form and function (Organizers: Lindsay Waldrop, Jonathan Rader)
  • Epigenetic Variation in Endocrine Systems (Organizers: Tyler Stevenson, Lynn Martin, Haley Hanson)
  • Biology at the Cusp: Teeth as a Model Phenotype for Integrating Developmental Genomics, Biomechanics, and Ecology (Organizers: Gareth Fraser, Darrin Hulsey)
  • Reproduction: the female perspective from an integrative and comparative framework (Organizers: Virginia Hayssen, Teri Orr)
  • Building Bridges from Genome to Phenome: Molecules, Methods and Models (Organizers: Karen Burnett, Jonathon Stillman, Donald Mykles, David Durica)

It’s already time to think about the 2021 meeting in Washington, DC. The deadline for proposing symposia is August 23, this year. Organizing symposia is one of the most important activities of the DEDB, and it’s a terrific chance for us to shape the discipline, to define the boundaries of our knowledge, and to set a path for the future. For information about proposing symposia, visit the Call for Symposia site (http://sicb.org/meetings/2021/callsymp.php). My job is to facilitate symposium organization. If you have an idea, let me know so we can work to make it a reality. The August 23 deadline means that some of the organizing should happen ahead of this summer’s meetings, but I expect that serendipitous encounters at the Pan-American Society for EDB meeting in Miami, or the Evolution meetings in Providence, or the Developmental Biology meetings in Boston, will spark excitement about this opportunity.

Finally, I want to encourage early-career researchers, absolutely including graduate students and postdocs, to think about putting together a symposium. This is a way to form relationships with senior researchers whose work excites you and to gain experience (and CV text) that will aid your next professional steps. Your colleagues in DEDB leadership are standing by to assist.

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

Firstly, a big thank you to Julia Bowsher and Yui Suzuki for organizing the exciting program of the 2019 annual meeting, and congratulations to the participants of the DEDB best student presentation competition on your selection to present some very exciting research! Each year, the students’ efforts do not make things easy for the student competition judges. Our winners this year were Phil Grayson (“Convergent regulatory evolution and forelimb heterochrony in flightless birds”) for best student oral presentation and Mandy Cumming (“A novel developmental mechanism patterns legs in tardigrades”) for best student poster presentation. Your divisional officers of DEDB look forward to organizing the fifth annual student competition next year in Austin next year.

One of the things about DEDB that I have long been proud of is its commitment to the participation of students and other junior Society members, toward building a stronger intellectual community. For this reason, special thanks also to Amaneet Lochab for her indefatigable efforts to promote connections between the division’s students and faculty/postdoctoral fellows, through the DEDB dinner date program and coffee meetups. The “Evo-Devo Dinner Date” program brings approximately 40 students and 20 faculty members together for informal conversation and a meal (on the faculty members’ dime!). As one of the early alumni of this program (on both sides of the student/faculty interaction), 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. For faculty, please do keep an eye out for an email from Amaneet with sign-up information as the annual meeting approaches.

The foundation of our academic discipline has always been the intersection of ideas from different fields and schools of thought. Building upon this theme, 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.

Our immediate division-wide business item concerns the election for Secretary-Elect of DEDB. Our two candidates for the election are Leslie Babonis and Brad Davidson. Kindly find the statements of their candidacy in this newsletter and please submit your vote!

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

Amaneet Lochab

Hi DEDB Students and Postdocs! Thank you to everyone who attended and presented at the meeting. It’s always exciting seeing your impressive talks and posters!

We also had many of you participate in the annual “Evo-Devo Dinners” this year, and in our first ever “Evo-Devo Coffee Meetups”. Thank you to our hosts for supporting this program, and to our students for signing up with enthusiasm. I would love your feedback on your experiences this year and your ideas for how we can improve these initiatives in the future. We hope that you will be back to participate next year!

Looking ahead to SICB2019 in Austin, the SPDAC (Student and Postdoctoral Affairs Committee) is planning to host an Exhibitor’s Hall booth with new topics each day and we hope you will drop by. Each topic will be geared towards supporting students and postdocs, and some of these ideas include, how to plan a symposium, how to write a teaching statement, etc. We will also be organizing a workshop next year on “Transitions in Science” and this will incorporate a roundtable discussion between scientists in various career stages and career paths to discuss how to successfully make these transitions (e.g. undergraduate to graduate student, graduate student to postdoc, etc.).

If you have ideas for topics you would like to see at the SPDAC booth, or suggestions for our workshop, we would love to hear from you! Please feel free to get in touch (alochab@g.harvard.edu) with any suggestions or comments, or if you would like to become more involved in DEDB. Have a wonderful spring and summer, and I hope you will plan to attend SICB next year!

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

Candidates for Secretary-Elect

Leslie Babonis

Leslie Babonis

Current Position: Assistant Research Scientist, Whitney Lab for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida, St. Augustine, FL

Education: Ph.D. Zoology, University of Florida (2011); B.S. Biology/Marine Science, University of Miami (2003).

Professional Experience: Mayor, Town of Marineland, Florida (May 2013-present); Postdoctoral Associate, Whitney Lab for a Marine Bioscience, University of Florida (Jan 2013-June 2017); Postdoctoral Associate, Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawai’i (Jun 2011-Jan 2013).

SICB Activities: Member since 2006.

Other Memberships: Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Research Interests: I study novelty. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the factors that drive the origin and diversification of novel cell types. More than just taxon-specific oddities, novel cell types can promote niche specialization and facilitate speciation events; thus, studying novelty is critical for understanding the evolution of biodiversity. One of my favorite projects focuses on understanding the mechanisms driving morphological and functional specialization of cnidocytes (stinging cells) across cnidarians. Using a combination of observational and manipulative techniques I am able to link small scale changes in gene regulatory network architecture with phenotypic outcomes in a truly bizarre lineage of cells.

Goals Statement: I attended my first SICB meeting in 2006 and have missed only a single meeting since then (sorry, Utah!). Year after year, I keep coming back because I continue to be inspired by the breadth and diversity of science represented in the society. I began my scientific career as a comparative physiologist but I quickly became attracted to the explanatory power and inherently integrative nature of evolutionary developmental biology. I became a member of the DEDB community in 2012 and have enjoyed interacting with the diverse members of this division annually since then. Now, it feels like my turn to give back. As DEDB Secretary, I will enthusiastically disseminate updates on the achievements of our members by continuing the tradition of our high-quality Newsletter. Additionally, I will use my connections across divisions and outside of the society to recruit new members to our DEDB community. Finally, I will work to expand training/mentoring opportunities for our student members by developing additional social and professional interactions at the annual meeting and beyond. DEDB continues to be among the most integrative, supportive, and contemporary divisions of the society and I will do my part to further these achievements.

Brad Davidson

Brad Davidson

Current position: Associate Professor of Biology, Swarthmore College.

Education: B.A., Swarthmore College (1991); Ph.D., University of Washington (2003).

Professional experience: Associate Professor Swarthmore College (2012-present), Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Arizona, (2007–2012); NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow, laboratory of Michael Levine, UC Berkeley, (2003–2006); Graduate work in the laboratories of Billie Swalla and Bill Moody, University of Washington.

SICB activities: Co-Organizer, Symposium on Mesoderm Evolution at 2006 SICB meeting; Student/Postdoc Representative, DEDB (2002–2003), Secretary DEDB (2013–2014); member of SICB since graduate school.

Other memberships: Society for Developmental Biology, American Society for Cell Biology.

Research interests: I have a broad interest in evolution/development including; evolutionary transitions in life history; regulatory gene network function and evolution and; dynamic properties of inductive signaling. My recent work has focused on fate specification and morphogenesis of the heart in the invertebrate chordate, Ciona intestinalis.

Goals statement: I am honored by the nomination to run for Secretary of DEDB. I have been an active member of SICB since attending my first meeting in Chicago in 2001. The excitement of this conference and the opportunity to present my work as a fledgling PhD student had a significant impact on my career. SICB is an extraordinary forum for sharing scientific discovery. In particular, this meeting provides a unique opportunity for students and post-docs to give platform presentations of their work and actively engage with fellow students, post-docs and P.I.s. I have encouraged my students to attend and it has been extremely gratifying to see them discover new colleagues and interests through their participation. Thus, SICB can play a vital role in cultivating new scientists and in potentiating new ideas and collaborations. As divisional secretary in 2014, I was excited to assist Jacob Musser’s launch of the “dinner-date” program and it’s clear that this has been a fantastic addition to the meeting, building on the unique opportunities this conference provides for enriching connections between members at all stages in their careers. I am therefor excited by the prospect of once again serving the division as secretary. If elected, I would dedicate my efforts towards broadening our membership and the participation of current members in the meeting. I would also work closely with my fellow officers to promote additional opportunities for students and post-docs to formally present and informally discuss their research. Sincerely, Brad Davidson