Division of Neurobiology, Neuroethology, and Sensory Biology

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Message from the Chair, Mike Baltzley, chair.dnnsb@sicb.org

I enjoyed seeing many of you at the SICB annual conference in Tampa. In addition to co-sponsoring six symposia, our division had a full schedule of fantastic talks and posters! Thanks to the division members who presented their research, and to our Program Officer, Jeff Riffell, for all his hard work to make the meeting successful for our division. I also would like to thank our outgoing Student/Postdoc Representative, Alexandra Kingston, for her valuable contributions over the past 3 years. Alex is being succeeded by Maryam Kamran, a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University studying olfactory imprinting and homing in Pacific salmon.

Thanks to all of you who helped judge our Best Student Presentation (BSP) talks and posters. The competition is only possible because of all the division members who volunteer to judge. I appreciate the feedback we got on the new judging rubric. My impression was that, overall, the rubric was an improvement over the past judging form but still needs some adjustments to make it more user-friendly. We’ll make some changes and post an updated version on the SICB website for students to see as they are preparing their presentations for the 2020 meeting in Austin.

The presentations for the BSP competition in Tampa were once again outstanding! Our BSP oral session winner was Rickesh Patel (University of Maryland Baltimore County) with Julie Butler (Louisiana State University) receiving honorable mention. Alana Arnone (UNC Wilmington) won the BSP poster presentation with Chase Anselmo (Louisiana State University) and Mehrnoush Nourbakhsh-Rey (University of Oklahoma) receiving honorable mentions. Please see the feature below highlighting the research interests of our Best Student Presentation competition winners.

For those of you who missed the DNNSB Business Meeting, but want to know what is happening in the division, you can find the minutes of past meetings on the DNNSB website (http://www.sicb.org/divisions/dnb.php3). The website also has a researcher database that we would love to populate with information about our members. Please consider adding a paragraph and photo about your work to the database. You can send your information to me (chair.dnnsb@sicb.org) or to our Division Secretary, Lisa Mangiamele (secretary.dnnsb@sicb.org).

In this year’s election we will be voting for our division Program Officer. Please take a moment to vote! Additionally, every year the SICB Executive Committee solicits nominations for members of our various society-wide committees. A list of the committees can be found on the SICB website (http://www.sicb.org/resources/committees.php3). Please let me know if you are interested in serving on one of these committees.

Message from the Program Officer, Jeff Riffell, dpo.dnnsb@sicb.org

The 2019 Annual SICB Meeting was held in Tampa, FL (Photo credit: SICB Student Photographer)

The 2019 Meeting in Tampa: We had a great scientific program in Tampa. DNNSB co-sponsored six symposia, including “Chemical responses to the biotic environment” organized by Paul Long, Laura Mydlarz, Beth Okamur. Also, there was the wonderful session in honor of Dr. Mimi Koehl, “Ekoehlogical Biomechanics: A Tribute to Mimi Koehl.” We had an excellent turnout for DNNB’s Best Student Presentations and Posters. Nonetheless, we’re hoping to increase the number of students participating in this opportunity, so please encourage your students to apply. And of course, students, postdocs and faculty presented their work throughout the meeting — thanks to all for participating and sharing your work!

Symposia for the 2020 Meeting in Austin: DNNSB will co-sponsor 5 of the 11 symposia at the 2020 meeting in Austin TX. We are the primary sponsor for an exciting symposium, “Integrative comparative cognition: Can neurobiology and neurogenomics inform comparative analyses of cognitive phenotype,” organized by Sarah Burmeister and Yuxiang Liu. We’re also co-sponsoring several other great symposia, including “Epigenetic Variation in Endocrine Systems,” organized by Tyler Stevenson, Lynn Martin, and Haley Hanson; and “Long Limbless Locomotors: The mechanics and biology of elongate, limbless vertebrate locomotion” organized by Henry Astley. Finally, we are co-sponsoring a great SICB-wide symposium, “Reproduction: The female perspective from an integrative and comparative framework.” Austin will be an excellent meeting for DNNSB-related talks. Details about all the symposia are available at http://www.sicb.org/meetings/2020/symposia/index.php.

Submit Proposals for Symposia at the 2021 Meeting in Washington, DC: Proposals for symposia for the 2021 meeting in Washington, DC are due August 23rd, 2019. If you have an excellent idea for a symposium, I urge you to submit a proposal. Moreover, please contact me if you want feedback about your ideas. The call for proposals can be found at http://sicb.org/meetings/2021/callsymp.php, and the guidelines for the process of developing proposals can be found at http://sicb.org/resources/SICB%20Symposium%20Policies%20and%20Guidelines%20Final.pdf.

Submitting a proposal is not difficult, although it does require some planning and organization. The breadth member expertise in DNNSB continues to grow, and we’d like the symposia to reflect that breadth. Not surprisingly given our scope, we co-sponsor many symposia. Nonetheless, we would still appreciate having symposia that have DNNSB as a focus. And if there are hot/developing topics that should be a symposium topic, please let me know. So please consider submitting a proposal this August!

Looking Forward: We continue to have great discussions on ways to increase DNNSB membership. Please encourage your friends and colleagues about the benefits of being a SICB member and attending the annual meeting. SICB is a fantastic meeting for students and postdocs, and a mechanism to showcase interdisciplinary and forward-looking symposia.

Message from the Secretary, Lisa Mangiamele, secretary.dnnsb@sicb.org

A important reminder about elections: our division is electing a new Program Officer this year, so please see below for more information on the candidates and don’t forget to vote in May! Look for the election reminder email from SICB Headquarters in your inbox in a few weeks.

I am always working to keep members better informed about news and research going on within the Division. Please check out our Division’s Twitter feed at @SICB_DNNSBfor some highlights from the 2019 SICB meeting. I would especially like to use this platform to advertise the excellent research of our divisional members, so please tweet me at @SICB_DNNSB or email me at secretary.dnb@sicb.orgif you would like your work highlighted.

Message from the Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative, Maryam Kamran, Kamran.mary@gmail.com

Maryam Kamran


I hope that those that attended the meeting in Tampa had a great time and found it to be a productive meeting. I am excited to start as the new Student/Postdoc representative for DNNSB.

Just to provide a short introduction, my research interests focus on examining mechanisms of homing behavior across varying spatial and temporal scales. For my PhD, I worked with Dr. Paul Moore at BGSU where I compared the behavioral mechanisms of homing in different species of crayfish. For my postdoctoral research I am managing a project on olfactory imprinting and homing in salmon at Oregon State University where I work with Dr. David Noakes.

I’d love to hear from students and postdocs on what they would like to see more of and what their needs are so we can provide more support, whether that’s developing a mentorship program or providing additional opportunities for networking or highlighting their accomplishments. To really maximize the benefits of being part of SICB, it is essential for the younger and newer members of SICB to participate and feel a sense of belonging and I look forward to working towards these goals with all of you.

Please feel free to reach out to me on twitter @merreyum or email me at Kamran.mary@gmail.com.

Best Student Paper Award Winners

Best Oral Presentation: Rickesh “Ricky” Patel, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Rickesh Patel (left); Mantis shrimp (right)

Ricky is primarily interested in the relationship between an animal’s unique sensory experience and its fundamental behaviors in day-to-day life. He currently works with mantis shrimp, animals renown for possessing amazingly complex compound eyes. His research examines the navigational strategies mantis shrimp use while traversing their benthic (sea-floor) environments and how they use their impressive sensory systems to orient when homing back to their burrows.

Alana Arnone

Best Poster Presentation: Alana Arnone, University of North Carolina , Wilmington

Alana’s scientific interests include muscle physiology and neurobiology. Currently, she is working to determine where different neuromodulators innervate the musculature in the wing-like parapodia of the pteropod mollusk, Clione limacina. InClione, four different swimming states are influenced by different neuromodulators, including serotonin. Using both light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, Alana has been able to determine which muscles in the wings are innervated by the different neuromodulators.

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

Candidates for Program Officer

Paul Moore

Paul Moore

Current Position: Professor of Biological Sciences, Bowling Green State University

Education: B.S. Oceanography, University of Michigan (1986); Ph.D. Boston University (1990)

Professional Experience: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Colorado Health Sciences Center; Post-Doctoral Fellow, Monell Chemical Senses Center; Professor of Biological Sciences, Bowling Green State University

SICB Activities: I have been division chair for three different terms.

Other memberships: Animal Behavior Society; American Society of Limnology and Oceanography; Society for Neuroscience

Research Interests: I have research interests in the sensory ecology of aquatic animals. Although my main focus is on olfaction, taste, and chemically-mediated behaviors, I also have ongoing projects on ecotoxicology, biomechanics, and chemical ecology.

Goals Statement: The division has been served really well by our past program chairs and we have excellent relationships with other divisions. Our more recent symposiums have highlighted the broad interests of our group beyond just a central focus of neuroscience. Even the name change brings in concepts of sensory biology, behavior, neuroethology, and even some ecological themes. I would like to continue this trend by highlighting the interdisciplinary connections between our division and others. The interface between neurobiology and biomechanics is ripe for interesting talks as well as symposia taking a comparative approach around a theme (swimming, flying, orienting) or habitats (aquatic vs. terrestrial) or even phylogenetic themes (different groups of invertebrates or vertebrates).

Jeff Riffell

Current Position: Professor of Biology, University of Washington

Education: B.A. UC Santa Cruz (Biology, 1997); Ph.D. UC Los Angeles (Biology, 2004), Postdoctoral Associate, University of Arizona (Neuroscience, 2004–2010).

Professional Experience: Faculty of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Washington (2010-present); Associate Editor of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution; Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Insect Science, University of Arizona (2004–2010).

SICB Activities: Member since 2000; Division member of DNNSB and DAB; DNNSB Program Officer 2017-current; Co-organizer of Symposium (2016).

Other memberships: International Society for Neuroethology; Society for Neuroscience; Association for Chemoreception Sciences; Entomological Society of America; International Society of Chemical Ecology

Research Interests: The sensory and neurophysiological bases of behavior underlie nearly every critical ecological and evolutionary interaction. Research in my lab seeks to link these different disciplines by examining the neurophysiological bases of behavior with how behavior controls the population- and community-scale interactions in the field. Specific topics include the olfactory basis of plant-pollinator interactions, mosquito behavior, and sensory integration in insects.

Goals Statement: Over the last several years as the Program Officer I’ve tried to increase the participation of neuroscientists and sensory biologists by encouraging the involvement of new members and the submission of interdisciplinary symposia. SICB and DNNSB can fill several gaps in various societies/conferences because of their narrow focus, or alternatively a research field’s rapid growth and interest in neuroscience. Relatedly, I believe that interdisciplinary themes such as neuromechanics, sensory biology, and neuroethology — as well as advocating for symposia and developing sessions that are cutting-edge and diverse in different types of organisms and age/rank of presenters — is vital for the growth of DNNSB. My continual goal is to ensure that we continue to attract young, interdisciplinary, scientists and feature their work. Another aspect that I’ve encouraged is increasing our links with other SICB Divisions; this includes joint SICB socials with the Division of Animal Behavior and the Division of Comparative Endocrinology. We share many of the same interests (and members) with these divisions. Last, and perhaps most importantly, I hope to keep the DNNSB-related symposia and programming fun and have division members excited to attend.