2012 SSE ELECTION OF OFFICERS
The Society for the Study of Evolution announces that the election of officers and council members to be in place on January 1, 2013. The election will be conducted online from November 1 through November 30, 2012. SSE members will be contacted by email and directed to a balloting link. Members who do not have an email address will be sent a paper ballot.
Review the candidate information below, note your choices and cast your vote by clicking on the "BALLOT" link below. Thank you for your participation!
CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT-ELECT - you'll vote for one
Lynda F. Delph. Department of Biology, Indiana University
Being nominated to serve as President of the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) is an honor. SSE has always been my most important society, and I have regularly attended the annual meetings over the past 25 years. I have served SSE as co-organizer of the Evolution meetings (2000), as Secretary (2000-2002), as a Hamilton Award Committee member (2012), and as Handling Editor for the society’s journal, Evolution (2010-present). If SSE is to remain the vibrant organization it is, with a well-regarded journal and well-attended meetings, we must work to both emphasize and increase the value of membership to the next generation of evolutionary biologists.
With access to a paper in Evolution just a click away, what compels students to join SSE? I proposed the Rosemary Grant awards in 2009, which provide creative young Ph.D. students with research funds. The impetus was to distribute some of the Society’s funds to young scientists for their research, but it also seems to have compelled some of them to join the Society. The hope is that they now remain members. Another reason to join is to save on page charges in Evolution or on registration costs for the meetings. To retain interest in the journal and meetings, two of the most important features of the society, we must be proactive in ensuring that innovative research and emerging ways of studying evolution are represented. To some extent this happens naturally, but I would urge the council to discuss measures to facilitate this process and encourage membership.
On a more biographical note, I received my undergraduate Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) degree at the University of Arizona and then drove to Mexico and camped on the beach for the summer, observing fish behavior while snorkeling. After a year as a lab tech, I earned my master’s degree, also in EEB at the U of A. At that point they jokingly told me to go someplace far away for my PhD, which I did, going to New Zealand on a Fulbright. I received my PhD in 1988 at the University of Canterbury, where I studied the evolution and maintenance of plant breeding systems under the guidance of David Lloyd. After a brief postdoc, I joined the faculty at Indiana University in 1990, where I have been ever since. I am interested in factors promoting and constraining phenotypic evolution, and work at the intersection of ecology, evolution, and genetics. My current interests are in plant evolution, especially the evolution of gender and sexual dimorphism, sexual selection and sexually antagonistic genes, sex-chromosome evolution, local adaptation, the maintenance of variation, and genetic incompatibilities between species. I utilize observations of plants in the wild, field experiments, artificial selection, and quantitative genetics in my investigations.
I welcome the opportunity to take part in the ongoing process of adapting the Society to the next generation of researchers, and becoming even more active on behalf of the membership.
Mohamed A. F. Noor, Biology Department, Duke University
I'm strongly in favor of openness in society communication, fostering young scientists with opportunities and funding, fighting the attacks on evolution, further strengthening the journal Evolution, promoting diversity in the sciences, promoting greater connections with societies in various nations around the world, open access to data used in publication, etc. A chicken in every pot, or if you're a vegetarian, then a big spaghetti squash.
Setting aside such broad truisms which are important but nearly all candidates for SSE office agree upon, let's talk turkey. We're living in times of financial austerity (as you Europeans especially know well), and all of us are very busy. **What we need to do is invest in initiatives that will provide the biggest returns for the least time and money. **I have four initial proposals based on my experiences. These are my "off-the-cuffs"-- the SSE president discusses ideas with the full SSE Council rather than acting unilaterally.
Scientific conferences. Our meeting is BIG, and we can't see all the great talks we want to. We should allow Evolution meeting presenters (with their permission) to have their talks videotaped and made available online (e.g., on YouTube). It's free to post, and we can pay students to videotape them from the front row for $10 a talk ($40/ hour for the student, or a cost to the society of $2000 for having 200 talks put online). We should also encourage posters to go into free depositories like F1000 Posters. Fast, (almost) free dissemination of research to conference-goers and the world-- isn't that what we all want? Here's an example I organized recently-- http://tinyurl.com/chyw37p
K-12 outreach. Since there's no way we can go to more than a few classrooms, we need more partnerships with companies that reach K-12 teachers across the world already. I worked with one widely-used company to produce a school kit to demonstrate natural selection. I encourage SSE organizing and fostering similar partnerships between investigators and companies like this so we can, with little effort, reach a much broader public.
Mentoring. Our students want more help getting jobs. Some societies have volunteers review CVs or job applications of members, and we can explore something similar. Also, many of our entering PhD students cannot, or don't want to, go into academia. We can benefit from coordinating mentoring efforts on alternative career options to students. Many of us spearhead graduate classes on alternative careers, but we can benefit from pooling resources. I propose a committee be formed to begin this pooling, with a one-year mandate to develop an initial framework and resources online that can be used by colleges around the world immediately, at least as a starting point.
Research. Recent US National Science Foundation (NSF) procedural changes have many evolution investigators nervous or upset. I support constructive efforts by the Society to work directly with NSF to carefully evaluate and document the impact of their recent changes, and to enter into direct discussions on how best, as a community, we can mitigate or solve resulting problems as we move forward.
CANDIDATES FOR COUNCIL - you'll vote for two
Leonie Moyle. Dept. Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington
I am honored to have the opportunity to run for SSE council. Like many members of SSE, I feel strongly that this society is my scientific ‘home’. I’ve served for three years as an Associate Editor for our journal, sat on several organizing committees for the society, and enjoyed many annual meetings. My goals as a councilor would be to contribute to further strengthening three main concerns of our society: the journal, our membership, and the broader public perception of evolution.
As a journal, Evolution has a long, rich tradition of publishing excellent quantitative biology, from behavioral studies to theoretical population genetics. As the flagship journal for SSE, it’s vital that Evolution maintain its position as a leading forum for innovative evolutionary research. One of my goals as councilor would be to work with the council to address how our journal can maintain it’s classical strengths, while also accommodating the increasing diversity of research performed by our members, including studies incorporating genomic technology to address fundamental evolutionary questions.
SSE’s greatest strength is its members. Over the past decade, the society has taken efforts to broaden the reach and diversity of our membership, and I will continue to support these programs. I’m particularly passionate about working to institutionalize SSE’s efforts to increase access to our annual meeting, including via student travel grants and childcare services. As half of a dual-career couple, my own kids have ‘attended’ the Evolution meetings several times (mostly willingly), something that would not have been possible even 5 years ago. These efforts strengthen our society by facilitating access to the vibrant scientific exchange that is evident at our annual meetings.
Finally, the role of SSE as an influential public advocate for evolutionary thinking deserves serious consideration. Beyond building important teaching and educational resources, how could our public outreach be extended? One possibility is to increase our engagement with new modes of online and electronic media. SSE already has fun with evolution on ‘film’ (via the recently initiated film series at the annual meeting). As a councilor, I would be interested in considering these and other ways that SSE could cultivate a broader public appreciation of evolutionary biology, including by drawing on the existing creative talents within our own community.
I’m committed to working to support our society. I would be honored to have the chance to serve on the SSE council, and to cultivate our strengths as a premier international organization of evolutionary biologists.
Lena Hileman. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas
I am honored to be asked to run for the SSE council. The SSE has an excellent record and reputation for promoting the study of evolutionary biology within the scientific community, as well as enhancing public understanding of evolution. The primary avenues by which these are achieved are publishing the journal Evolution, working with sister societies to hold the annual evolution meetings, collaborating with individuals and groups to develop and disseminate educational material to teachers and the public, and awarding individuals who have excelled in evolutionary research and education. As a council member I will work to maintain excellence in these areas and identify mechanisms for enhancement.
The annual evolution meeting is a vibrant forum for scientific interactions. As a member of the council, two priorities will be to enhance interdisciplinary and mentoring opportunities. I will work to ensure that there are symposia reflecting interdisciplinary approaches to the study of evolutionary questions. One way that this can be facilitated is by working with existing NSF-funded Research Coordination Networks that promote interdisciplinary approaches. The society does a good job encouraging undergraduates, including those from underrepresented groups in science, to attend the evolution meetings. Yet, we can work to increase travel awards and promote positive, mentor-mentee, interactions between attending undergraduates and graduate students/postdocs. These interactions may enhance the experience of undergraduates at the national meeting, and encourage them to more broadly explore graduate programs and careers in science. Mentor-mentee interactions can easily be facilitated through conference workshops and satellite events.
Through events organized for the evolution meetings, web content, and awards supporting outreach activities, SSE disseminates resources that enhance the public’s understanding of evolutionary and help K-12 teachers integrate evolutionary biology content into their curricula. I look forward, if elected to the council, to working with scientists and educational organizations to identify new and creative ways to continue, as well as to enhance the outreach missions of the society.
Luke Harmon. University of Idaho.
I am happy to be included among the candidates for council for SSE. I first started reading the journal Evolution as an undergraduate at Iowa State University. We brought a big stack of journals out into the field (Fred Janzen’s “turtle camp”) and passed them around from tent to tent. I have been actively involved with the journal ever since, and am currently an associate editor. Even now, with the explosion of new journals, the role of Evolution as a leading “go-to” place for great papers has not changed.
If elected to council, my focus would be on initiatives that benefit society members and promote membership. For example, for those of us with small children, having reliable and reasonably priced day care at the meeting provides a huge benefit. This program should continue to be supported by all of the societies, including SSE. Enhanced career development workshops have also been widely attended and successful. I think that there are more things like this that we as a society can do to make the meetings accessible and beneficial to all. I also feel personally buried in the “literature deluge,” and I think there are ways that journals can take advantage of new technology and social networks to get information about relevant papers to the right people, quickly. For example, a few journals have apple “apps” that allow elegant browsing of content on phones and iPads. We might also consider sponsoring a high-profile blog (a few journals like Oikos and Molecular Ecology do this very well).
The SSE should continue with its mission of promoting the study of evolution, but do that in a way that reflects the changing nature both of the society and the outside world.
Kim Hughes. Florida State University.
I am honored to be asked to run for Council Member for the Society for the Study of Evolution. Evolutionary biology has never been more vibrant, more interdisciplinary, or more central to understanding how the world works. Nevertheless, I believe the SSE has great need and great potential to engage with its membership and with society to the betterment of both. If elected to Council, I will focus on a few issues that I think are most pressing: outreach, funding, and retention of young researchers.
Publicity and promotion of evolutionary biology to the general public is one way to combat the strong bias against the idea of evolution that pervades many parts of the world, including North America. At the same time, many media outlets, including very prominent ones, deliver scientific and technical news to their readers and recognize that stories about nature have universal appeal. Some of our sister journals take advantage of this situation by actively engaging the media. They produce and/or provide press releases for noteworthy articles from every issue. I think we can do the same for Evolution, with some coordination with the publisher. I would like to work toward this goal if I become a Councilor.
Although the community of evolutionary biologists is larger and more diverse than ever, the currently bleak state of research funding will limit the potential for this trend to continue. The society can address this concern through several mechanisms. Workshops can be developed for the annual meeting that emphasize practical funding and career strategies for students, postdocs, and young faculty. Funding can also be addressed directly, as illustrated by the new Rosemary Grant Awards for Graduate Student Research, which provide a little money (and a lot of encouragement) for beginning graduate students. I would like to pursue additional opportunities for the society to fund awards to young investigators. In addition, I would like to consider complementary strategies that that encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to enter the field. Finding new resources for undergraduate attendance at the annual SSE meeting, or at regional meetings, is one such strategy. I believe each of these goals is achievable, and will have an outsize impact on the future of evolutionary biology and of the SSE.