Dear SMBE members,
I am writing to you today on behalf of the SMBE Council to apprise you of some changes we are making to the names and criteria for awards and honors conferred by our Society. Specifically, we wish to refresh the awards and honors in ways that are more descriptive of the achievements and more focused on the awardee. This is part of our ongoing efforts and commitment to make our Society more equitable and welcoming to diverse members of our community worldwide. The immediate changes we are making are:
- We are expanding the criteria for our faculty excellence awards from a more traditional one-dimensional definition of scientific excellence to incorporate other important axes of scientific leadership and excellence, including mentoring and service.
- We are renaming the awards to better reflect our focus on the awardees themselves, whom we will celebrate and recognize with plenary talks and conferred awards at our annual meetings.
- Among our most prestigious awards are those that we confer to our best graduate students, whom we highlight at a symposium at our annual meetings. In the past, we have traditionally selected eight finalists and chosen one winner. Each year, this decision is made difficult because we are comparing often vastly different sub-disciplines of molecular evolution. From this year on, we will now name all eight selected students (and early postdocs) as recipients of this award and celebrate all their remarkable achievements at our annual meetings.
We owe an enormous debt to the giants in our field who laid the foundation for our discipline and enabled our society to thrive practically and intellectually. We remain an international organization that facilitates association and communication among molecular evolutionists with the ultimate goal of pushing forward the field of molecular evolution. Today’s adjustments ensure our society stays true to the original vision of SMBE, while also being unafraid to change.
As always, SMBE Council members remain responsive to your comments and suggestions.