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SMBE IDEA Task Force: Call for Nominations and Self-Nominations extended until August 31, 2021

INSTRUCTIONS FOR NOMINATIONS:

Inclusion, Diversity Equity and Access (IDEA) Task Force

Charge: The IDEA Task Force was created to address the challenges faced by under-represented groups in SMBE, in particular, as well as science in general, including providing concrete recommendations for broadening representation and inclusion in all aspects of the society. This group will survey membership about priorities, solicit and be receptive to ideas and suggestions, investigate and discuss possibilities and logistics, and present recommendations to Council on a quarterly basis. Members of Council may also reach out to the IDEA Task Force with questions and suggestions for them to consider. By definition, then, the specific charges of this task force will evolve. Immediate tasks will be to identify priorities for initiatives and programming, recommend recipients of the IDEA awards (formerly Equal Opportunity Awards), and review the criteria and names of our existing awards to better reflect the values of our society.

Structure: The IDEA task force will be advisory to the SMBE Council, and will have 10 members. Two of these members shall be SMBE Councillors. The remaining 8 members-at-large will be selected from SMBE membership external to the Council. To encourage broad participation, former members of Council may not join the task force until a year has passed since their service on Council. There shall be two co-chairs, neither of whom may be Council members. We shall strive to maximize diversity on all axes among the membership.

Process: Members of the Task Force will be solicited from nominees (self-nominations are encouraged) from the SMBE membership. To be considered, nominees must submit a statement of interest that includes a brief description (no more than one page) of why that individual is interested in participating by email to secretary.smbe@gmail.com. Council will select the members of the task force from among the nominees, considering both their statements and representation. Membership will rotate, such that volunteers will serve for staggered terms of three years.

We call for nominations (including self-nominations) by 31 August 2021. Nominees will be contacted immediately thereafter and asked to provide statements by 15 September 2021. Initial appointment terms will include two 1-year positions, three 2-year positions, and three 3-year positions; if you have a preference for a shorter term, please indicate this when you submit your statement; otherwise terms will be decided arbitrarily by Council.

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  • Thursday, August 19, 2021
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Congratulations to the winners of the SMBE 2021 annual Faculty Awards

2021 SMBE Early-Career Excellence Award Winner: Kelley Harris

Kelley Harris is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, as well as an Affiliate Assistant Member of the Herbold Computational Biology Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her group is trying to understand how mutational processes are shaped by genetic drift and natural selection and how this evolutionary process in turn modulates the accumulation of genetic variation. After earning a B.A. in Mathematics from Harvard and an M.Phil. in Biological Sciences from Cambridge, advised by Richard Durbin, she completed her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley working with Rasmus Nielsen and Yun Song. Her postdoctoral work at Stanford in the lab of Jonathan Pritchard was supported by an NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowship. The Harris Lab is currently supported by an NIH NIGMS R35 grant as well as grants from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Sloan Foundation, the Kinship Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
 

2021 SMBE Mid-Career Excellence Award Winner: Tanja Stadler

Tanja Stadler is an Associate Professor at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) in Basel. Further, Tanja is president of the Swiss National COVID-​19 Science Task Force. Tanja studied Applied Mathematics at the Technical University of Munich (Germany), the University of Cardiff (UK), and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). She obtained a Master degree in 2006 and a PhD in 2008 from the Technical University of Munich (with Prof. Anusch Taraz and Prof. Mike Steel). Tanja then joined ETH Zürich as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Sebastian Bonhoeffer in the Department of Environmental Systems Sciences, and was promoted to Group Leader in 2011. In 2014, she moved to the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering as an Assistant Professor where she obtained tenure in 2017. Her work is at the interface of mathematics, computer science, evolution, ecology and infectious diseases. In particular, she develops phylogenetic tools to address epidemiological and medical questions, as well as questions in the fields of ecology, species evolution, cell differentiation and language evolution. Her honors include the TUM PhD award 2008, the John Maynard Smith prize 2012, the ETH Latsis prize 2013, the Zonta prize 2013, and the ETH Golden Owl for teaching in 2016. In 2013, Tanja received an ERC starting grant. In 2020, Tanja received an ERC consolidator grant.

2021 SMBE Lifetime Research Achievements Award Winner: Michael Lynch

Michael Lynch is currently the Director of the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution, Arizona State University, where he also heads an NSF-funded center grant focused on the cellular mechanisms of evolution. His research has long focused on the genetic mechanisms of evolution, particularly at the genomic and cellular levels, and on population-genomic analysis. His lab works with a number of model systems, most notably the microcrustacean Daphnia, the ciliate Paramecium, and numerous other unicellular prokaryotic and eukaryotic species. Current re

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  • Monday, August 16, 2021
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In Memoriam - SMBE mourns the passing of Dr. Richard Charles "Dick" Lewontin

Dear SMBE Members,

On the morning of July 4, 2021, population geneticist Richard “Dick” Lewontin passed away at the age of 92, just three days after his high-school sweetheart and wife of 73 years, Mary Jane. Both had been in poor health. Lewontin was an emeritus Professor in the Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Curator in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

Lewontin has left an indelible imprint on the field of evolutionary biology through his research, writing, and mentorship.

After finishing his undergraduate degree at Harvard, Lewontin trained under the supervision of the famous Drosophila geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky at Columbia. Dobzhansky was often away collecting flies, which provided Lewontin freedom and independence. But, when Dobzhansky was back in the lab, they purportedly argued intensely about population genetics, an activity both parties enjoyed immensely.

Fresh after earning his PhD from Columbia, he moved to North Carolina State University, where he remained for just 4 years (1954-1958) before moving, first to the University of Rochester, and then to the University of Chicago. In his early work, Lewontin was known for bringing a mathematical modeling approach to the field of genetics. While most population genetics was focused on a single gene, his early work with Ken-Ichi Kojima essentially founded two-locus theory and introduced the term “linkage disequilibrium” to describe the statistical association between the variation at each of a pair of genes. This work laid the foundation for now commonly used, association-mapping approaches.

However, the primary reason Lewontin moved to Chicago was because he recognized the exciting work of biochemist Jack Hubby, a new faculty member, who was pioneering the method of gel electrophoresis. As Lewontin put it: Hubby had a method but no question, and he had a question but no method. Together, they published two ground-breaking papers in Genetics: Hubby & Lewontin (1966) and Lewontin & Hubby (1966). The first focused on the method by which one could assay genetic variation via gel electrophoresis, and the second applied this method to assess genetic variation in a population of Drosophila pseudoobscura. Lewontin complained – even decades later – how the latter paper was more highly cited, and Hubby wasn’t adequately recognized for his contributions. Nonetheless, together, these papers laid the foundation for the field of molecular evolution, by (1) demonstrating the surprisingly high amount of genetic variation (heterozygosity) in natural populations and (2) setting the stage for the still ongoing debate about how much of this variation was due to natural selection and how much was due to chance. See Charlesworth et al. (2016) for more detail. As a direct consequence of these studies, Motoo Kimura and his colleagues developed the neutral theory, which tries to explain in quantitative terms the observed pattern of genetic variation expected in the absence of any form of natural selection. Thus, effectively, these papers set the agenda, for both empirical and theoretical population genetics, for the ensuing decades and to the current era of population genomics.

In 1973, Lewontin was lured to Harvard University and the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) to serve as a “Curator of Population Genetics”, a new position designed for him. He was offered the entire third floor of the MCZ, which he had renovated to his specifications. Most notably, in the center was an expa

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  • Friday, July 09, 2021
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Election results President-Elect and two Councillors 2022

As announced earlier on social media, our election for President-elect and two Councillors whose terms will begin on 1 January 2022 resulted in the following appointments:

SMBE President-elect: Dr. Kateryna Makova

A native of Ukraine, Kateryna Makova received her PhD from Texas Tech University, where she studied the genetic consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident. She then completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Chicago, where she investigated differences in mutation rates between males and females, among other topics. She has been a Professor in the Department of Biology at the Pennsylvania State University since 2003. Her laboratory conducts research in evolutionary and medical genomics. Current topics of interest include sex chromosome evolution, evolution of non-B DNA, mitochondrial DNA evolution, regional variation in mutation rates, and childhood obesity. The research in Kateryna’s laboratory is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative. The group collaborates with statisticians, computer scientists, and biochemists.

During her career Kateryna has mentored 15 PhD students and 11 postdoctoral fellows, and co-authored over 100 scientific manuscripts. She currently directs the Center for Medical Genomics, which brings together basic science and medical researchers at Penn State University. She is an Editor of Genome Research and is a member of the Board of Scientific Counsellors to the National Library of Medicine (the National Institutes of Health).

Kateryna still remembers attending her first SMBE meeting in 1998 in Vancouver. She has been an active member of the society since then. Kateryna was a member of the Organizing Committee of the SMBE annual meeting hosted in 2004 at Penn State. In subsequent years, she was a member of the Nominating Committee, Fitch Prize Awards Committee, and Travel Awards Committee, as well as organized multiple symposia at the SMBE annual meetings. Kateryna was a Councillor of SMBE in 2015-2017. Her main contributions while serving at the Council include establishing the uniform annual meeting format and handling the satellite meetings program. She has been a strong supporter (and an occasional user) of the childcare program and advocated for increasing the number and amount of meeting travel awards. Kateryna was a member of the Editorial Board of Genome Biology and Evolution from the foundation of the journal in 2009 and until 2020.

As the next SMBE President, Kateryna proposes to work on:

  • Developing a hybrid meeting format for future SMBE conferences, which should include in-person and on-line events. What can we learn from the pandemic? How can we build an annual conference that enables both on-line attendance to anyone in the world and live interactions to those who can travel.
  • Augmenting annual SMBE conferences with public lectures given by our leading researchers. Communicating our scientific discoveries to the public, including school students and teachers, is of paramount importance in the time when science is not trusted in many countries.
  • Establishing novel mentorship opportunities at all career levels (from undergraduate students to assistant professors) within the society both during and outside of the annual meeting. Females and people from minority groups should have a priority in such mentorship opportunities.
  • Expanding regional meeting programs to include more developing countries. Not everyone can afford to attend an annual meeting on another co

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  • Thursday, July 08, 2021
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MBE - Call for Editors-in-Chief (EiCs)

The Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) is looking for evolutionary biologists with an active research program to lead its journal Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE) as Editors-in-Chief (EiCs). The EiCs have the opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the advancement of our field and the success of the journal, hence SMBE itself. The EiCs oversee the running of the journal with a focus on scientific content and smooth operations. They also serve as ex officio on the SMBE council to contribute to strategic discussions and deliberations on academic publishing. The SMBE Council appoints the EiCs. The Oxford University Press currently publishes MBE.

The term of the new EiCs will begin no later than June 2022, but an earlier start would be preferable as it would allow a period of ‘shadowing’ of the outgoing EiC, which we expect would make for a smoother handover. The SMBE Council may choose to appoint a sole EiC or make a joint appointment (preferred). EiC candidates may apply as a team or indicate their willingness to be matched with another applicant.

MBE is a high-impact journal established in 1983 and is one of the leading and most influential evolution journals. MBE publishes fresh insights into the patterns and processes that impact the evolution of life at molecular levels across a full breadth of taxonomy, genomic organization, and functions, forms, and phenotypes. MBE's Methods, Resource, and Protocol sections provide our community with cutting-edge evolutionary research tools that enable discovery, while our Reviews and Perspectives present syntheses to inspire new directions in evolutionary thought. From 1 January 2021, MBE has become completely open access.

The EiC roles and responsibilities include:

  • Nominating senior and associate editors to the editorial board. The SMBE Council provides the final approval.
  • Ensuring that the composition of the editorial board reflects the SMBE policy and practice of equality, diversity, and inclusion;
  • Has the ultimate responsibility for decision-making on manuscript acceptances, appeals, and scientific-fit with the journal;
  • Making strategic decisions regarding the journal publication strategy and quality control; and,
  • Promoting MBE content to the public and all relevant scientific communities.

The initial appointment will be for a term of 4 or 5 years, the terms of which will be laid out in a contract signed with SMBE under the guidance of our publisher. Under the SMBE bylaws, an individual cannot serve more than two terms in all SMBE journals combined.

Interested candidates may contact Aoife McLysaght aoife.mclysaght@tcd.ie with informal inquiries or directly apply by email to the same address. The application must include the following information:

               i. Desc

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  • Tuesday, July 06, 2021
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SMBE IDEA Taskforce - Call for Nominations AND Call for Proposals

SMBE is excited to launch the SMBE IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) Initiative. The goals of this initiative are twofold: 1) to increase representation and inclusion in our membership along all axes of diversity; and 2) to collect data on and/or address systemic racism, sexism, colonialism, and other exclusion in our society (see for instance the publication on Progress and Prospects in Gender Visibility at SMBE Annual Meetings https://academic.oup.com/gbe/article/10/3/901/4924379).

A budget of up to $25,000 will be dedicated each year for this call. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to members of the molecular evolution research community, at least one of whom must be a member of SMBE. SMBE is now calling for proposals for activities to take place between January 2 2022 and May 30 2022.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR NOMINATIONS:

Inclusion, Diversity Equity and Access (IDEA) Task Force

Charge: The IDEA Task Force was created to address the challenges faced by under-represented groups in SMBE, in particular, as well as science in general, including providing concrete recommendations for broadening representation and inclusion in all aspects of the society. This group will survey membership about priorities, solicit and be receptive to ideas and suggestions, investigate and discuss possibilities and logistics, and present recommendations to Council on a quarterly basis. Members of Council may also reach out to the IDEA Task Force with questions and suggestions for them to consider. By definition, then, the specific charges of this task force will evolve. Immediate tasks will be to identify priorities for initiatives and programming, recommend recipients of the IDEA awards (formerly Equal Opportunity Awards), and review the criteria and names of our existing awards to better reflect the values of our society.

Structure: The IDEA task force will be advisory to the SMBE Council, and will have 10 members. Two of these members shall be SMBE Councillors. The remaining 8 members-at-large will be selected from SMBE membership external to the Council. To encourage broad participation, former members of Council may not join the task force until a year has passed since their service on Council. There shall be two co-chairs, neither of whom may be Council members. We shall strive to maximize diversity on all axes among the membership.

Process: Members of the Task Force will be solicited from nominees (self-nominations are encouraged) from the SMBE membership. To be considered, nominees must submit a statement of interest that includes a brief description (no more than one page) of why that individual is interested in participating by email to secretary.smbe@gmail.com. Council will select the members of the task force from among the nominees, considering both their statements and representation. Membership will rotate, such that volunteers will serve for staggered terms of three years.

We call for nominations (including self-nominations) by 15 July 2021. Nominees will be contacted immediately thereafter and asked to provide statements by 15 August 2021. Initial appointment terms will include two 1-year positions, three 2-year positions, and three 3-year positions; if you have a preference for a s

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  • Tuesday, July 06, 2021
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The Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution is an international organization whose goals are to provide facilities for association and communication among molecular evolutionists and to further the goals of molecular evolution, as well as its practitioners and teachers. In order to accomplish these goals, the Society publishes two peer-reviewed journals, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Genome Biology and Evolution. The Society sponsors an annual meeting, as well as smaller satellite meetings or workshop on important, focused, and timely topics. It also confers honors and awards to students and researchers.

 



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