I have been an active member of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) since my first year of graduate school in 2005. I have found that this scientific organization is incredibly well run, extremely student friendly, and very inclusive with regards to the diversity of research topics that can find a home at their annual meeting. For at least the past nine years, however, those of us working in ecoimmunology and/or disease ecology were regularly shuffled around and placed in (sometimes odd) sessions apart from one another. Placements varied pure ecology sessions, stress sessions, pure immunology sessions (often with a strong molecular theme), parasite sessions – and coblogger Matt Venesky was even placed in an Evo-Devo session for a talk about chytrid fungus simply because he was studying tadpoles. Overall, we had a strong presence at SICB, but that presence was largely diffuse. I am extremely glad that we now have our own division and I am even more excited to serve as a founding board member of this division.
The SICB Division of Ecoimmunology and Disease Ecology (DEDE) was officially approved as a division at the January 2014 SICB meeting in Austin, Texas. Elections were held in May 2014 for the officers of this new division. Lynn (Marty) Martin from the University of South Florida had largely spearheaded the efforts to make our division official, and he was elected as chair of the division. Someone who I have shared a session with for at least half of my SICB meetings, Sarah Durant of Oklahoma State University, was elected as Program Officer. I was honored to be elected as Secretary of the Division. The three of us were excited to appoint Cynthia Downs, who is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Nevada-Reno, as our Graduate Student/Post Doc Representative, and thus, we have our officers.
As I look forward, I am excited that our field of study will have a more unified presence and, undoubtedly, this will improve collaborations and scientific advances in our field. I am also excited to be bringing five of my own research students to the first meeting where we will have our own DEDE program in January 2015 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Service as a division board member and having my lab so well represented are two goals I have had for my role as a SICB member for a very long time. If your research involves ecoimmunology or disease ecology and you are not a member of SICB, I encourage you to join. I hope to see many of you in West Palm Beach!
– Travis Wilcoxen