It’s election season again! This year we’ll be voting in a new President-Elect, the North American Vice President, and two new Councilors. Candidate statements will be posted soon on the website, with polls opening in early November. Please join me in thanking our outgoing officers for their hard work and dedication: Past President Sally Otto, North American VP Jenny Boughman, and Councilors Susan Alberts and Becky Fuller. A big thank you also to our Nominating Committee, Norman Johnson, Marc Johnson, and Anne Charmantier for their work selecting the new candidates.
As part of our ongoing efforts to grow and reflect our nature as an international society, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new Global Membership Assistance (GMA) scheme, which will offer free or 50% reduced SSE membership fees to researchers from lower-income countries. This will replace the previous “Developing Nation” discounted membership. Please help spread the word and invite your non-member colleagues in these lower-income countries to consider taking advantage of this new program! Learn more here.
This year the deadlines for the new Graduate Research Excellence Grants (GREG) have shifted. The R.C. Lewontin Early Awards (for students in the first two years of their PhD) will be announced in November with proposals due in mid-February. The Rosemary Grant Advanced Awards (for PhD candidates) will be announced in June 2019 with proposals due in September. Learn more about these grants and how to apply here.
Congratulations to Frances Arnold, George Smith, and Greg Winter on receiving the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry! Half of the award goes to Dr. Arnold for her work on directed evolution of enzymes. The other half is awarded to Dr. Smith and Dr. Winter for their research on the phage display of peptides and antibodies. We are pleased to offer these three outstanding researchers, who use evolutionary principles to engineer proteins, lifetime membership in SSE. Read more about their award-winning work on the Nobel Prize site.
We, the Council of the Society for the Study of Evolution, strongly oppose attempts by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to claim that there is a biological basis to defining gender as a strictly binary trait (male/female) determined by genitalia at birth. Variation in biological sex and in gendered expression has been well documented in many species, including humans, through hundreds of scientific articles. Such variation is observed at both the genetic level and at the individual level (including hormone levels, secondary sexual characteristics, as well as genital morphology). Moreover, models predict that variation should exist within the categories that HHS proposes as "male" and “female”, indicating that sex should be more accurately viewed as a continuum.* Indeed, experiments in other organisms have confirmed that variation in traits associated with sex is more extensive than for many other traits. Beyond the false claim that science backs up a simple binary definition of sex or gender, the lived experience of people clearly demonstrates that the genitalia one is born with do not define one's identity. Diversity is a hallmark of biological species, including humans. As a Society, we welcome this diversity and commit to serving and protecting members regardless of their biological sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.
*Here we are speaking of the multi-dimensional aspects that underlie male-ness and female-ness, including hormones, physiology, morphology, development, and genetic aspects. We acknowledge that many of these aspects are bimodal. Furthermore, some of these aspects are discrete categories (e.g., XX/XY, SRY presence/absence, gamete size, sperm production vs egg production, presence/absence of certain genitalia), but these categories don’t always align within individuals, are not always binary, and should be irrelevant to the determination of a person’s legal rights and freedoms.
Continue reading for a copy of the letter sent to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
This year, the SSE International Committee awarded over $20,000 in travel awards to international researchers to attend the Evolution meeting. Continue reading for statements from four recipients.
SSE was pleased to be able to offer 103 graduate/postdoc travel awards to the Montpellier meeting. We doubled the number of awards this year for the Second Joint Congress, and added three awards that were made possible from donations from members. Thank you! Continue reading to hear from a few of our travel award recipients.
The New Faculty Profile series highlights and introduces new Principal Investigators who are SSE members. This month we highlight Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton. Dr. Campbell-Staton is an assistant professor jointly appointed to the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department and the Institute for Society and Genetics at the University of California Los Angeles studying how climate shapes demographic history and adaptation over prehistoric and contemporary time periods. Read his full profile here.
The New Faculty Profile series highlights and introduces new Principal Investigators who are SSE members. This month we highlight Dr. Sara Branco. Dr. Branco is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Montana State University studying the ecology and evolution of fungi to further understand the ecological factors that generate and maintain fungal diversity. Read her full profile here.
Want candidates to discuss science issues? Curious about what your local candidate's stance is on food sustainability, energy policies, or the environment? Science Debate (sciencedebate.org) is a non-partisan non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that has invited all candidates currently running for House, Senate, and Gubernatorial seats to answer 10 questions on science policy prior to Election Day. You can help by encouraging candidates in your state and district to post their answers, by asking science-related questions at town-halls, or by hosting a Science Debate event with local candidates. Contact Sally Otto at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can help add scientific issues to the discourse during these elections.
This year, the deadlines for the new Graduate Research Excellence Grants (GREG) have shifted. The R.C. Lewontin Early Awards (for students in the first two years of their PhD) will be announced in November 2018 with proposals due in mid-February. The Rosemary Grant Advanced Awards (for PhD candidates) will be announced in June 2019 with proposals due in September. Learn more about these grants and how to apply here.
Thank you to ESEB and the Evolution Congress organizers and sponsors for establishing a meeting Code of Conduct and a procedure for addressing inappropriate behavior! We are committed to promoting an inclusive and professional climate at our meetings and will continue to do so with our Safe Evolution initiative. We encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed inappropriate behavior at our meetings to consult these procedures—designed to make reporting straightforward, keep investigations completely confidential, and set appropriate standards for behavior by all participants. Learn more here.
Congratulations to this year’s Hamilton Award winner, Christopher Pull from Royal Holloway University of London! Chris gave an outstanding talk on how ants control infections in colonies. The runners-up are Debora Goedert from Dartmouth College and Karin van der Burg from Cornell University. We were very impressed with all of the talks given by Hamilton Finalists at the Evolution 2018 meeting, and were pleased to be able to offer $500 travel stipends to all of the finalists. Learn more about the Hamilton Awards here.
The Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) is pleased to announce a call for applicants to the position of Blog Editor Fellow to begin January 1, 2019. The Blog Editor Fellow will create and curate a blog highlighting the effective and essential work SSE members are doing to engage and educate the public and to interface with other SSE members. The Blog Editor Fellow will solicit, manage, and publish at least three articles per month from regular contributors, and will write one editorial per month on a topic of their choosing. The fellowship stipend will be $6,000 USD per year. Applications close October 1, 2018. Continue reading for more information.
If you are attending the Evolution meeting in Montpellier, be sure not to miss these great talks:
See the full schedule here.
This month we highlight Dr. Emily Kane. Dr. Kane is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Georgia Southern University. She studies ecological and evolutionary biomechanics; specifically, locomotion, feeding, and the links between those systems. Read her full profile here.
The field of evolutionary biology is at its best when all of its members are supported by positive, safe, and healthy work environments. To reinforce a healthy environment for all, the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB) and the American Society of Naturalists (ASN) have worked together to develop Safe Evolution, a centralized campaign for our society membership to positively affect the climate at our conferences and positively impact all members in our field. Continue reading for a letter from SSE President Hopi Hoekstra with important information and links.
Please continue reading for a statement from the SSE Council regarding the investigation of one of our long-time members, Dr. Francisco Ayala, and the SSE Code of Conduct.
Congratulations to the 2018 Dobzhansky Prize winner, Amanda Kyle Gibson! Dr. Gibson is a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University studying the evolution and ecology of infectious diseases. The Dobzhansky Prize is awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Evolution to recognize the accomplishments and future promise of an outstanding young evolutionary biologist. Learn more about the prize here.
The New Faculty Profile series highlights and introduces new Principal Investigators who are SSE members. This month we highlight Dr. Claudia Bank. Dr. Bank is the Principal Investigator of the Evolutionary Dynamics Group at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia in Oeiras, Portugal. She studies how populations adapt and diversify, with a specific interest in the role of epistasis during these processes. Read her full profile here.
Registration is now open for the new Employment Acquisition Skills Boot Camp with the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) on December 17-18 in Washington, DC. This program provides graduate students to senior scientists with the information, tools, and resources required to successfully identify and secure employment in a diversity of career pathways. SSE members can receive the discounted rate by emailing email@example.com with their intent to register.
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is offering our US members a chance to meet with your lawmakers in your home state to inform science policy this summer through their annual Congressional District Visits event. Participating scientists either meet with their elected officials at the local district office or may invite them to visit their research facility. Registration closes July 19. Learn more and register here.
If you were selected as a Hamilton Finalist or selected to receive a regular graduate/postdoc travel award for the Evolution 2018 meeting, you must pick up your check in person at the SSE Members Business Meeting on Tuesday Aug 21 from 5:30-6:10 pm CET in the Darwin Room in Le Corum. You do not need to attend the entire business meeting -- you may come by just to pick up your check.
If (and only if) you are presenting a poster during this time and cannot attend the business meeting, you must contact Kati Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org to either:
(1) arrange to pick up your check at the SSE Presidential Address the following morning, or
(2) send a delegate to the SSE Members Business Meeting with a signed note from you authorizing them to pick up the check on your behalf.
Due to the large number of awards, we cannot make individual arrangements for check pick-up other than the options listed above.
Please email Kati Moore at email@example.com ASAP if you are no longer able to attend the meeting.
Congratulations to the 14 W. D. Hamilton Award finalists! Each finalist will receive a $500 travel stipend to the Evolution meeting in Montpellier, and will present their research during the Hamilton Award Symposium. See the names of this year's finalists and learn more about the award here.
On June 18, SSE, the American Society of Naturalists (ASN), and the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB) submitted a comment to the Environmental Protection Agency in response to a proposed rule that would require that research conducted by the EPA be based on data that are publicly available. Continue reading for the full letter.