Division of Vertebrate Morphology

Spring 2019 Newsletter

Message from the Chair, Patricia Hernandez, chair.dvm@sicb.org

From left to right: DVM members Emily Kane and Stacy Farina, standing next to Patricia Hernandez, Chair of DVM (photo credit: SICB student photographer)

Once again we had a wonderful meeting in Tampa. It was particularly satisfying to see that our business meeting was standing room only. It is great to see our members, especially our student members care deeply about our division. With a healthy number of abstracts and strong representation within several symposia we are poised to continue to be one of the largest and strongest divisions within SICB…..which makes my heart happy. As always we had a strong collection of student talks with Christopher Mayerl taking the D. Dwight Davis Award for his talk entitled “XROMM analyses of differences in pectoral and pelvic girdle rotation between land and water in turtles”. There was a strong competition for the Poster Award with Tyler Boggs taking the Karel F. Liem Poster Presentation Award for his poster entitled, “Canal neuromasts influence the development and position of suborbital bones in the blind mexican cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus”. Thank you to DVM program officer Mason Dean for organizing judging of posters. It was decided that in future organizing poster judging will be handled by the Chair-elect.

Importantly, during the spring elections, we must select a new program officer-elect. We are fortunate to have two excellent candidates vying for the position. We will also vote to approve Rick Blob to take Adam Summer’s place as chair-elect. Please see all three candidate profiles below. Thank you to Jenn Carr and Monica Daley who served as our nominating committee. Also, congratulations to Kara Feilich who will be serving as our SPDAC postdoc rep. Thank you to Christopher Mayerl for his excellent work as our previous SPDAC rep.

Past-President and DMV member Peter Wainwright delivered the Plenary Lecture in Tampa (photo credit: SICB Student Photographer)

We are already excitedly looking ahead to next year’s meeting in Austin, TX. We have seven symposia supported by DVM. It should be a great meeting. And we are already starting to think about our 2021 meeting in Washington, DC. Indeed, the website for contributing symposia is already up and the deadline for submissions is August 23, 2019. Also, this year we are trying something new. We thought that our members might have great ideas but might not be up to the task of developing their own symposium. Thus, we are asking our members to submit ideas for exciting symposia that they would like to see through the link provided here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScFzIQKEOC1PwDOANb-SiXuCTwP1SSY6LHOx_Xig13wtjyRXQ/viewform

If you would like to discuss the possibility of organizing a symposium please reach out to our program officer, Mason Dean.

One last thing I wanted to mention. After the meeting we had a very nice blog post by one of our members who was attending SICB for the first time in a wheelchair and with a helper dog. She found the meeting very welcoming and she reported that the meeting venue was fully accessible. She did however have some issues negotiating posters in her wheelchair. This started a dialogue about the difficulties associated with accessibility at our meetings, including for those who may be hearing impaired, or have sensory processing disorders/autism spectrum disorders. Please know that we continue to actively work towards providing an increasingly inclusive meeting where everyone is comfortable. If you have suggestions for ways that we could address these issues please feel free to reach out to me.

Thank you all for this opportunity to serve. John Hutchinson left big shoes to fill…..I will do my best.

Message from the Program Officer, Mason Dean, dpo.dvm@sicb.org

Tampa was a great success — Brooke Flammang and Phil Anderson did a banner job constructing the talk and poster schedule from your excellent submissions and I’m proud to see our division continues to set a prominent and forward-thinking example at the meeting. For the fourth year in a row, we featured a dedicated session for the Dwight D. Davis Best Student Oral Presentation competition. The judges had a tough job due to all the high quality presentations and the results were very close, with Christopher Mayerl winning for his talk on “XROMM analyses of differences in pectoral and pelvic girdle rotation between land and water in turtles.”

A packed poster session in Tampa! (photo credit: SICB student photographer)

The Karel F. Liem Poster Presentation competition was equally fierce, with 17 students competing and Tyler Boggs winning for his poster “Canal neuromasts influence the development and position of suborbital bones in the blind mexican cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus”. Thanks to the judges for their hard work and congrats to Christopher and Tyler! We’re looking forward to continued top-notch presentations by our student members at the 2020 meeting in Austin.

The SICB Annual Meeting in January 2020 will be held in Austin, TX, home of the famous Congress Avenue Bridge Bats!

SICB 2020 symposia: In Texas, we have a fantastic and diverse line-up of co-sponsored symposia planned: (see the full list of symposia here: http://sicb.org/meetings/2020/symposia/index.php)

  • Long Limbless Locomotors: The mechanics and biology of elongate, limbless vertebrate locomotion (organized by Henry C. Astley)
  • Bio-inspiration of silent flight of owls and other flying animals: recent advances and unanswered questions (organized by Christopher Clark & Justin Jaworski)
  • Reproduction: the female perspective from an integrative and comparative framework (Society-wide: organized by Teri Orr & Virginia Hayssen)
  • Form, structure and function: How plants vs. animals solve physical problems (organized by Simon Poppinga, Ulrike Mulle & Anna Westermeier)
  • Biology at the Cusp: Teeth as a Model Phenotype for Integrating Developmental Genomics, Biomechanics, and Ecology (organized by C. Darrin Hulsey & Garerth Fraser)
  • Melding Modeling and Morphology: integrating approaches to understand the evolution of form and function (organized by Lindsay Waldrop & Jonathan Rader)
  • Applied Functional Biology: linking ecological morphology to conservation and management (organized by Diego Sustaita, Lance McBrayer & Eric McElroy)

It’s impressive just how *co-sponsored* and diverse our symposia are. To me, this underlines how, as a division, we’re working to keep our ideas fresh and make connections outside of DVM. I hope we’ll continue this in a couple of ways:

SICB 2021 symposia: We’re already looking for symposium proposals for the 2021 SICB meeting in Washington, DC! If you’re ready to submit a proposal, the submission and proposal guideline website is live: sicb.org/meetings/2021/callsymp.php.

If you want to just pitch a great idea for a DVM symposium, you can suggest it here, free of obligation: https://goo.gl/forms/v3KCoWkuzBpMNfb63.

We’d love to talk to you about developing your symposium ideas, so feel free to contact me with any questions or to discuss topic ideas. We are particularly interested in symposia on timely topics that will be of interest to multiple SICB disciplines and that address the broader impacts criteria of NSF. Think about topics in your research that you see as under-addressed or cutting edge and also consider topics that might build bridges with other divisions (and maybe scientific societies…see below). The deadline for symposium proposals is August 23, 2019 and the Program Committee will select the final symposia for 2021 at our meeting this fall.

Other conferences/societies: In the time before the next SICB, there are still plenty of ways to get your fix for morphology-relevant conferences, for example:

  • Comparative Cartilage Biology (CCB) in Banyuls, France in June (I’m organizing this one! Please contact me if interested)
  • International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology (ICVM) in Prague in July
  • Society of Experimental Biology (SEB) in Sevilla in July
  • Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) in Brisbane in October
  • International Conferences on the Chemistry and Biology of Mineralized Tissues (ICCBMT) in Montreal in October

If you know of other conferences that should be on our radar, please pass them on to me. As hokey as it may sound, while you’re attending other conferences, remember to talk up SICB to the researchers you meet — it’s a great way for us to build ties to other societies and conferences and can help recruit new SICB and DVM members. Consider organizing a SICB symposium with someone you meet or know in another society — this is a perfect way to build interdisciplinary perspectives into our symposium topics from the start.

And lastly, on a sad note, John Currey passed away in December 2018. For those who did not know him or his work, he was a champion of comparative bone biology, a gentle soul and a dry wit. If you don’t have a copy of his ‘Bone: Structure and Mechanics’ book on your shelf, then you now know what to ask for for your next birthday.

Message from the Secretary, Laura Ekstrom, secretary.dvm@sicb.org

Another year as DVM Secretary, another meeting missed. So once again, I will begin my Spring message with a thank you to DVM Secretary-Elect, Angela Horner, for taking over full secretarial duties at the 2019 meeting! Also, thank you to all of you for your attendance, participation, and contributions meeting-wide and at the DVM Business meeting.

Skull display in Exhibitor Area at Tampa Meeting (photo credit: SICB student photographer)

More detailed information can be found in the minutes, but here are a few key highlights from the DVM business meeting. A discussion and vote resulted in the decision that the Chair-elect should run the best student presentation judging to remove potential conflict of interest and maintain consistency. And speaking of Chair-elect, Adam Summers has declined his elected position, due to editing duties at SICB’s new journal, Integrative Organismal Biology. Rick Blob is running for the Chair-elect position. Kara Feilich was appointed as the new Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative. Lastly, at the business meeting, DVM members took time to remember Kenneth Kardong (1943–2018) and his impact on our division, the society, and his field.

Next year’s SICB meeting is already shaping up to be an exciting one, with seven symposia to be held by DVM members! These symposia make up the majority of the contents for our ICB journal, which is a substantial source of revenue for SICB. We hope you will consider holding your own symposia in the future. The deadline for symposium proposals for SICB 2021 in Washington, DC is August 23, 2019.

This Spring, we will be electing a new Program Officer-Elect to work with and eventually replace Mason Dean. The profiles of the candidates, Nicole Danos and Nicolai Konow, can be found below. Thank you to all on the nominating committee and please remember to vote!

Acknowledging DVM Members in Service: The Division of Vertebrate Morphology would like to acknowledge the exceptional service provided by outgoing committee members, John Hutchinson (Chair 2017–2019), Brooke Flammang (Program Officer 2017–2019), and Christopher Mayerl (Student/Postdoc Representative 2017–2019).

Tyler Boggs, University of Cincinnati, the Karel Liem Best Poster Presentation Award Winner

DVM Awards and Honors

The 2019 DVM Best Student Paper Award recipients were Tyler Boggs and Christopher Mayerl. Tyler Boggs was awarded the Karel Liem Best Poster Presentation Award for his poster, ”Canal Neuromasts Influence the Development and Position of Suborbital Bones in the Blind Mexican Cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus.” Tyler is currently a PhD student in Josh Gross’ Lab at the University of Cincinnati.

Christopher Mayerl, Northeast Ohio Medical University, the Dwight Davis Best Oral Presentation Award Winner

The Dwight Davis Award for Best Oral Presentation went to Christopher Mayerl for his work titled, “XROMM analyses of differences in pectoral and pelvic girdle rotation between land and water in turtles,” which suggests that pectoral girdle movements are probably driven by muscular activity associated with moving the limb, regardless of the environment, whereas pelvic girdle movements are probably driven more so by body support associated with terrestrial locomotion. Christopher is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Rebecca German’s lab at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, working on the impact of preterm birth on feeding performance in mammals.

Misty Paig-Tran, CSU Fullerton, Carl Gans Award Winner

Lastly, congratulations to Misty Paig-Tran, Assistant Professor of Biological Science at CSU Fullerton, winner of the Carl Gans Award in 2019!

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

Program Officer-Elect Candidates

Nicole Danos, University of San Diego

Nicole Danos

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Biology, University of San Diego

Education: BA, Integrative Biology, 2002, UC Berkeley; MS, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, 2005, UMass Amherst; PhD, Biology 2011, Harvard University; 2012–2014, Post-doctoral research in Muscle Physiology, UC Irvine (with Manny Azizi), 2014–2016, Postdoctoral research in Neuromechanics, Tufts University (with Eric Tytell).

Professional Experience: 2016-Present, Assistant Professor of Biology USD; 2011–2012 Teaching Postdoc Harvard University; SICB and ICVM symposium organizer and contributor;

SICB Activities: active member since 2003, DVM and DCB student presentation judge, TAL-X education workshop co-organizer.

Other Memberships: American Association of Anatomists, Sigma-Xi.

Research Interests: Comparative functional morphology and Biomechanics, with a focus on soft tissues in a diversity of taxa. Current projects include the Biomechanics of Breastfeeding in pigs, the Effect of Pregnancy on skeletal muscle function in rats and Sexual dimorphism in the feeding mechanics of chameleons.

Statement of Goals: DVM and SICB as a whole have been my academic home since my undergraduate days. I am excited to be able to contribute formally to this division as Program Officer, to facilitate the sharing of the innovative science that is happening in our division.

Nicolai Konow, UMass Lowell

Nicolai Konow

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences. UMass Lowell, Lowell MA.

Education: BS/MS. U. Copenhagen, PhD. James Cook University.

Professional Experience: Postdocs: 2006–2008 Hofstra University, 2008–2009 Johns Hopkins University, 2009–2014 Brown University. Research associate: 2014–2016 Brown University, 2015–2016 Harvard University. 2017-present Associate (MCZ).

SICB Activities: Member of SICB and DVM since 2006. Co-organizer of the late-breaking symposium, “Electromyography: Interpretation and Limitations in Functional Analyses of Musculoskeletal Systems, 2008; Organizer of regional DVM at UMass Lowell in 2017. DVM Chair nomination committee 2016, 2019. Best student paper/poster judge whenever needed.

Other Memberships and Societal Activities: Society for Experimental Biology (Biomechanics interest group member).

Research Interests: Comparative anatomy, muscle physiology, ecomorphology.

Statement of Goals: I am thrilled to be nominated for the DVM Program Officer position. Having programmed a couple of DVM North-East regional meetings, and organized one, I feel ready to step into the “big-league” of conference programming. I would aim to continue the success of recent Program Officers, who turned the trend of “too few proposals” into a boom of forward thinking symposia. So, I would seek to facilitate discussions of forthcoming forward-thinking symposia amongst members of different SICB divisions. Another goal of mine would be to promote students and underrepresented groups in our division, through the Dwight D Davis session, but also by generally connecting individuals that should be connected. You may also know me as occasional co-organizer, and DJ at our DVM-DCB party. Though I am sensitive to different needs, I am very much a proponent of this long-standing tradition and so, aside from my Program Officer charges, I would seek to maintain and promote the party, along with alternatives for more sedate socializing.

Candidate for Chair-Elect

Richard Blob

Current Position: Alumni Distinguished Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University.

Education: Ph.D. 1998, Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago (with Andrew Biewener and James Hopson); B.A. 1992, Individualized Studies (Paleobiology) & Biology, University of Pennsylvania.

Professional Experience: 1999–2002, NIH-NRSA postdoc, Field Museum of Natural History (with Mark Westneat); 2002–2015, Assistant/Associate/Full Professor, Clemson University; 2013–2019, Awards Committee Chair, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology; 2015-present, Editorial Board member, Journal of Morphology and Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

SICB Activities: Member of DVM (since 1993), DCB, DEE & DPCB; SICB Program Officer & PO-Elect (2015–2018); SICB Nominating Committee Chair (2018–2019) and member (2012–2013); Associate Editor, Integrative Organismal Biology (2018-present); DVM Program Officer (2010–2012); SICB ad hoc committee to evaluate Oxford Univ. Press as publisher of ICB (2009–2010); DVM Dwight Davis Award Committee Chair (2004) and judge (2003, 2008–9, 2011); DVM Nominating Committee (2001); Co-coordinator of 3 SICB symposia (2008, 2013, 2014); Organizer of 2 Southeast Regional DVM-DCB meetings (2008, 2018).

Other Memberships: AAAS; American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists; International Society of Vertebrate Morphologists; Sigma Xi; Society for Experimental Biology; Society for the Study of Evolution; Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Research Interests: Vertebrate musculoskeletal biomechanics and functional evolution, with special focus on locomotion in fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. I am especially interested in evaluating the functional correlates of major environmental, behavioral, and ontogenetic transitions, and in modeling the functional performance of fossil taxa to gain evolutionary insights.

Statement of Goals: What an exciting time to be a vertebrate morphologist! New tools and techniques are giving us novel ways to visualize morphology and understand it in a wide range of contexts, helping us ask diverse and integrative questions. Looking to the future, one of my goals as Chair will be to promote using these strengths to build connections to other Divisions and disciplines, which will help us to gain new insights and widen the understanding and appreciation of morphology. I will take an active role in recruiting integrative symposia and workshops for the Annual Meeting, and encouraging Regional Meetings, that highlight these connections and foster inclusive participation. Growing social media and open access venues (including the new SICB journal) give us even more opportunities to make excellent work by DVM members accessible to wide audiences, and I will work with the other DVM officers to further build our productive use of these outlets. Finally, I am keenly aware of the challenges that face our early career members, from students and postdocs to beginning faculty, as they navigate the series of transitions that mark professional work in science. I will look to identify ways that DVM can further support the professional development of our members, potentially through additional themed workshops or mentoring/networking sessions. In all of these efforts, I will welcome and be responsive to suggestions, and I will look forward to hearing your ideas. DVM has been my scientific home for 25 years, and I am happy for the chance to serve and help advance the Division.