Division of Invertebrate Zoology

Fall Newsletter 2019

Alice C. Gibb
Nov 1 · 12 min read

Message from the Chair, Ken Halanych, chair.DIZ@sicb.org

The Austin, Texas 2020 SICB meeting is just around the corner! Once again, hats off to all the planned participants and to the Program Officers as this meeting looks to be packed with excellent science. Of course such meetings are also filled with social events, catching up with colleagues, and meeting new collaborators among other things. However such a great meeting is not possible without individuals willing to take on a little extra work and serve in Society wide or Divisional positions. I would like to implore the DIZ members to consider running for office. We especially need more early-career scientists and teachers to become involved. We are particularly in need of nominations for the next DIZ Chair that will start in 2021. Please feel free to ask John Zardus (Past Chair) or myself what this entails. Names can be given to any of the DIZ officers. In a similar vein, please come to the DIZ members meeting. It is you who decide the future activities of the Division.

Below are several reports from DIZ that will detail a number of important items (including symposia and a new format for best student awards). In addition to these, I wanted to give a special thank you to Bruno Pernet who has been representing DIZ as an Assistant Editor for Integrative Comparative Biology. His efforts and guidance have been most helpful to the journal. Dan Speiser has kindly agreed to continue these efforts. Also as most of you know SICB recently launched a new open access journal entitled Integrative Organismal Biology. DIZ needs some representation here at both the editorial level and with high quality manuscript. If you need more information about this please ask.

Also this will be Linda Walters’ last meeting as DIZ Program Officer. Please let her know what a fabulous job she has done. To find about more about our new Program Officer, you need to read Justin’s entry below.

Parting Shot: As we all know, being a researcher/teacher/educator is a full-time job. Nonetheless we are in a unique position to inform others of the importance of fact-based decision making and the importance of science in the daily lives of all. Of course, reaching out to the broader community takes time and effort. It is really important that we make time in our busy our schedules to do this! So reach outside your comfort zone to let others know how important issues such as global change, plastic pollution, or biodiversity loss are.

Nominating Committee Information: DIZ will be looking for nominees for Divisional Chair position to start after the 2021 meeting. Andrew Mahon (mahon2a@cmich.edu) has kindly agreed to Chair the Nominating committee. Please provide any suggestions about possible candidates to him or any of the DIZ officers. Self nominations are welcome.

Message from the Program Officer, Linda Walters, DPO.DIZ@sicb.org

We just wrapped up the programming meeting on site in Austin (see photos below) and I can assure all DIZ members that this conference will be one of SICB’s finest! There were 1894 abstracts scheduled over four days, including 11 symposia. DIZ supported symposia will be: 1) “New Frontiers in Antarctic Marine Biology” on January 4 organized by James McClintock, Charles Amsler, Bill Baker, Art Woods, and Amy Moran. 2) On January 5, “Form, structure and function: How plants vs. animals solve physical problems” will be hosted by Ulrike Muller, Simon Poppinga, and Anna Westermeier, and 3) on January 6, “Building Bridges from Genome to Phenome: Molecules, Methods and Models” will be led by Karen Burnett, Jonathon Stillman, Donald Mykles, and David Durica.

In terms of Best Student Presentation competition, we have made the leap. There will be one dedicated oral session for the coveted Mary Rice Award with eight talks on the second full day of the meeting (January 5) from 10 AM — noon. This will be followed by 21 posters competing for the equally-coveted Alan Kohn Award, all grouped together in the poster hall during the same afternoon (January 5th) from 3:30–5:30. Please come out and support the students in your division!

Left: SICB Divisional Program Officers working on the 2020 program. Right: Sticky-note placeholders used to organize the 2020 program. (Photo credits: Linda Walters)

Finally, at the meeting we voted on Symposia for 2021 in Washington, D.C. With rule changes, symposia applications almost doubled from last year. The big rule change was that SICB will once again cover the cost of registration for all symposia speakers. Of the dozen selected, DIZ will be contributing to seven symposia and will provide similar amounts of funds to each symposia. Selected topics included numerous cross-phyla comparisons that range from “Experiential Learning” to “Stickiness” to “Pumping and Swimming” to “Light Pollution”. Should be fun!

To make sure you are ready for Texas in January, here are some additional important meeting details:

  • All conference talks and posters will be held in JW Marriott Hotel (not Convention Center!).
  • The Marriott is new and nice, and sessions will occur on floors 2–5. There are elevators, escalators, and typical hidden hotel stairs to maneuver between rooms.
  • The poster/exhibit area is carpeted and nice, rather than an unpainted cement-floored warehouse.
  • There will be a childcare room and a nursing mother’s room in this area.
  • There are loads of great restaurants immediately surrounding the hotel, and many more within easy walking distance. Trader Joe’s and Flagship (= First) Whole Foods Market are also both within 10–20 minute walk of Marriott.
  • Austin has wooded trails and waterfront near the hotel that were quite nice.

Happy Fall and See you all in Austin! Please let me know if you have any questions. — Best wishes, Linda Walters

Message from the Secretary, Justin McAlister, secretary.diz@sicb.org

Our next SICB Annual Meeting is just around the corner and I’m sure you’re looking forward to good science and good times in Austin, TX.

In the Spring of 2019, we held elections for the next DIZ Program Officer, who will replace Linda Walters at the conclusion of the 2020 Annual Meeting. Our two excellent candidates were Karen Chan and Andrew Mahon and we elected Karen. Please take a moment to congratulate Karen if you see her at the upcoming meeting!

Mystery juvenile invertebrate. Can you help identify it? Photo credit: Justin McAlister.

Note that there will be changes to the Student Awards Program at the upcoming meeting. Please see Linda Walter’s update (above) for more details. We are also still working out the kinks with the Student Mentoring Program that was proposed by Bob Podolsky. The goal was to have the program set up in time for the 2020 Annual Meeting, but it may be pushed back to the the 2021 Annual Meeting. We will relay information about this program as soon as possible. Lastly, be aware that Ken Halanych’s term as DIZ Chair will be coming to a close after the 2021 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. We will be holding elections next year in 2020 to replace Ken. If you are interested in serving as the Chair of DIZ or would like to nominate someone, please contact any of the DIZ Officers.

To get you excited about invertebrates, take a look at the image above of the interesting “critter” I found hanging out in the biological media (ceramic plugs) of one of my aquariums. At first glance it looks like a young ophiuroid, but closer inspection reveals six tentacle-like extensions of the body, each of which has a series of small, clear, round structures lining their edges. In fact, I found three of these organisms clinging to the substrate using their tentacles. The aquarium they were found in holds primarily colonies of Astrangia poculata (with much associated communal organisms) collected from Rhode Island and a few sea whips from Gulf Specimen. My best guess is a juvenile stage of some type of hydroid, but I’m hoping we can put our collective wisdom together to figure out who or what these things are! Let me know if you have any ideas. — See you in Austin! Justin

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Sammi Smoot

Greetings everyone! Hope everyone is excited for the next meeting in Austin, Texas! The Austin 2020 meeting will be my last year as your student representative on the SICB Student Postdoctoral Affairs Committee (SPDAC). Are YOU a student or post-doc interested in becoming more involved in SICB? Or do you know someone you think would be perfect??? The job requires attendance to the annual meeting where you meet the other SPDAC division representatives (FREE LUNCH) and attendance to the DIZ division meeting. During the year you write updates for the Spring and Fall SICB newsletters, and have Skype meetings with the SPDAC representatives and DIZ Executive Board. Questions? Email me at scs0051@auburn.edu to nominate a student or post-doc or to nominate yourself.

The SPDAC committee has been busy the last few months revamping our presence at the annual meeting! We’re bringing back the SPDAC booth during poster sessions for students to ask questions, look at and take our advice and how-to documents, or just to take some candy. Sample topics for the Advice and How-to Topics documents available at the SPDAC booth will include:

  • Getting into graduate school
  • Grant writing and SICB symposium proposals
  • Science communication
  • How to get a post-doc
  • Getting through Academia

The SPDAC workshop this year will investigate ‘Transitions in Science’ with roundtable chats on major issues in the shifts between undergraduate-graduate, Masters-PhD, PhD-postdoc, postdoc-academia, and Masters/PhD-outside academia. We’re currently recruiting ‘Experts’ for our discussion, or if you’re a student — who is someone you would like to meet or talk to during the meeting?

Thank you for inviting me to be your SPDAC student representative for DIZ for the last 3 years! See you in Austin! Sincerely, Sammi

SPDAC RESOURCES: Postdoc, grant, fellowship opportunities: http://www.sicb.org/resources/studentpostdoc.php3, SPDAC Facebook Page: @sicbspdac, SPDAC Twitter: @SICB_SPDAC, DIZ Facebook Page: @SICBDIZ

Message from the Student Awards Committee Chair, Anne Böttger

Another meeting is almost upon us, and we would like to encourage all post-graduate members who are attending the meeting in Austin, Texas to sign up as judges. Attendees will have the option to sign up as a judge in the checkout section of their online registration. In addition, you are also welcome to sign up as a judge by contacting me directly at aboettger@wcupa.edu. Due to the large presentation numbers this year, we would like to ask all judges to referee 4 or fewer presentations. Please help us continue the DIZ’s established history of valuing student presentations by signing up as a judge to evaluate student presentations and provide students with valuable comments that will aid them with future presentations.

Judges will be able to choose presentations they are willing to evaluate via the online program for the SICB meeting in Austin, which will hopefully be available later in October or November. At that time judges should go online and select the DIZ talks or posters they want to judge: first come, first serve. When the schedule is complete, I will email your assignments and judging instructions — typically in late December. Forms to evaluate posters and talks will be provided to all at the time of registration. An envelope with your name, your assignments and the appropriate number of evaluation forms will be left for you at the registration desk. If you would prefer, instead, to receive the forms as electronic versions, please feel free to contact me.

I would like to thank all past DIZ judges for their time and effort and ask for their continued help. If you have not volunteered as a judge, I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering. It is great fun and a wonderful way to help the division. Judges are often in short supply and yet necessary to continue to offer student awards. In addition, judges’ comments are meaningful and important to prepare students for future presentations and help shape their future research questions. If you have any questions regarding the duties of a judge, please do not hesitate to email me at aboettger@wcupa.edu.

We look forward to seeing everyone in Austin in January 2020!

Message from the Libbie Hyman Scholarship Selection Committee Chair, Jennifer Burnaford

In 2019, Libbie Hyman Memorial Scholarship funds supported Georget Oraha, a first-year MS student at California State University Fullerton, for her first significant biological field station experience. Georget, a student in the lab of Jennifer Burnaford, had this to say:

“Thanks to the Libbie H. Hyman Scholarship, I was given the opportunity to kick start my master’s thesis project at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories. From the moment of my arrival to my last day, I only had positive interactions with all the faculty, staff, and students. I was surrounded by an inclusive group of people that supported my project and overall helped me become a better scientist.

My master’s research involves studying the effects of heat stress during low tide on the ability of mussels (Mytilus sp) to attach themselves and remain attached to rocky surfaces. With the help of the Libbie H. Hyman Scholarship, I began working through the methods of my project. Whether in the lab or the field, I felt I accomplished a goal every day because of the resources provided by Friday Harbor Labs. I also engaged with passionate scientists who shared similar interests and were always happy to guide me with developing my project. Some examples included helping me with mussel transplant techniques and manipulating low tide conditions in the lab. Overall this gave me a better understanding of the organism I study.

Working at a field station allowed me to gain hands-on practice with my study organism and power through the trials that come with building a research project from the ground up. Whenever I ran into a flaw with my experimental design, I was able to exchange ideas and borrow equipment from professors who had gone through similar obstacles while studying mussels, none of whom I would have met if I had not gone to this field station. Learning how to use a thermal imager, a dremel tool on mussel shells, and a force gauge to measure whole attachment strength were just a few of the many such experiences. I was able to freely use equipment that gave me the practice I needed for my experiments. During my five-week stay, I had the opportunity to live with graduate students from many institutions who all were working on their individual projects. The benefits of living with other students at a field station is that collaboration arises organically. We all would think out loud about our projects and learn something new from each other daily. Working at a field station allowed me time to put all my energy on the details of my project that I could have not done elsewhere.

Friday Harbor Labs was an incredible first field station experience. In just five weeks, I found a second home in the world of marine biology, where I completely immersed myself in research. I met a diverse group of scientists that continue to stay in touch with me, and I can’t wait to go back next summer.”

Left: 2019 LHH Award Recipient Georget Oraha tests out a method for mussel transplants. (Photo credit: A. Zuelow); Center: Georget Oraha in the field on San Juan Island, WA, measuring mussel shell length (Photo credit: A. Zuelow); Right: Georget at Friday Harbor Labs, setting up a manipulative experiment to assess the effects of different low tide exposure regimes on mussel attachment strength. (Photo credit: L. McIntire)

As always, we acknowledge the generous support of our donors: without them, we would not have the opportunity to support transformational experiences like the one Georget describes above. As the costs for field station visits continues to rise, contributions to the Scholarship Fund will help us to continue and hopefully expand our support for students as they explore the field of invertebrate biology. To make a contribution, click on ‘Donate to SICB’ on the SICB home page (http://sicb.org) or send donations to: SICB Business Office, Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship Fund, 1313 Dolley Madison Blvd., Suite 402, McLean, VA 22101. Checks should be made payable to SICB and marked as a “Contribution to the Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship Fund.” All contributions are tax deductible.

I wish to thank Will Jaeckle, Shanna Hanes, and Bruno Pernet for their service on the committee this year, and Ruedi Birenheide for making the web-based application process work smoothly. Applications in 2020 will be due on Tuesday February 4, so mark your calendars! The application form is available at http://sicb.org/grants/hyman/. If you or your students have questions about the application process, please feel free to contact me via email (my address is available at that site). Please encourage your best students to apply!

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