Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blogging SICB 2010

The beginning of January is marked annually by the Society of Integrative Biology (SICB) meeting. This year's was in foggy Seattle. I had planned to post a few blog posts during the meeting (as Rich did for last year's 'Evolution' meeting, e.g., here; or as I did more successfully at the Anolis Symposium). Life is full of good intentions, however, and here I am posting about SICB for the first time as I wait for my delayed flight out of Seattle. A confluence of factors contributed to this negligence, not the least of which was the fact that I wasn't scheduled to speak until this morning. The conference hotel was also charging (almost unbelievable) $11/day for internet access, which somewhat limited my ability to pop open the laptop and write a quick blog post. (I actually pay $15/month for nationwide broadband access through my phone, so I was actually not as hampered as others might have been - but tethering the phone and dialing up to the Verizon network is much slower and less convenient that hopping quickly on a wi-fi network would have been.)
Costly internet access aside, this was a great meeting. For people who have not attended SICB in the past, the composition and interests of presenters and posters is much more widely varied than in the major summer meetings. For example, concurrent sessions this morning included a session on "Spiralian Development," another on the "Mechanics of Defensive Structures," a third on "Sexual Selection," and a fourth (my session, actually) on "Predation and Predator Avoidance." With such as eclectic assemblage of sessions, it was pretty easy to identify those to avoid (for example, I did not attend the session on "Neurobiology - Molecular Neurobiology & Neuroanatomy" - no offense to neurobiologists). The meeting by no means lacked for interesting talks. For example, Bob Cox from Dartmouth College gave a fascinating talk on the survival costs of reproduction in Anolis, Katrina McGuigan gave a really interesting talk on the quantitative genetics of intraspecific allometry, and Eduardo Rosa-Molinar gave a fantastically illustrated talk on the neurological basis of reproductive behavior in Gambusia fishes. The latter talk featured both impressive high speed video of mosquitofish copulation, as well as wild three dimensional imagery of associated neural circuitry.
My talk was on the ultimate day of the meeting, which almost felt like it was after the meeting had already ended - since the last day was a half-day of talks and since there had been a concluding reception the previous evening. I talked about using mathematical and computer models to draw inferences about predation regime from the rate and pattern of tail autotomy in several species of Puerto Rican anoles. This project actually arose out of a collaborative venture with a great Harvard undergraduate, Karen Lovely, and perennial "Dechronization" third wheel Luke Mahler. My talk was about as well attended as one could hope for on the last (half) day of the meeting at 8:20am in the morning - but this is a really neat project, so I hope that when our in press article comes out in Evolutionary Ecology Research later this month, a few of the people that read this blog or happened to see my talk will check it out!


Glor said...

Thanks for the update Liam. I've never been to SICB, but it seems like more and more people I know are making it an annual pilgrimage. How would you compare the crowd to that found at the joint Evolution meetings hosted by SSB/SSE/ASN?

Sarah Knutie said...

Interesting.. I found Boston (2009) quite large and felt lost at times, but was unable to attend Seattle this year. Hope everyone can make it next year (2011) in my city - Salt Lake City, UT!