Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Best Things About ESA Annual Meetings

What's the best thing about attending an Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA)? We asked dozens of people at Entomology 2010 in San Diego, California. Check it out, and plan on attending Entomology 2011 in Reno, Nevada.

President's Entomology 2011 Welcome Message

Welcome to Reno and Entomology 2011 – the 59th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America!
This is the fourth time we have met in Reno for our Annual Meeting. The first three were in 1986, 1991, and 2008, under Presidents Lowell R. Nault (“Skip”), William A. Allen, and Mike Gray, respectively. It’s interesting to note that the membership in those years was 7,721, 7,052, and 6,056, and our current membership is 6,410. Although the increase from 2008 is slight, the trend is in the right direction, and we all have a role to play in helping to make ESA more relevant to new students and non-traditional members. Many societies of our size are seeing declining membership and weak budgets, and we are strong in both of these key measures.

Themes, Subthemes, and ESA Goals. We have an exciting program again this year, with a unique mixture of social and scientific issues, and two Plenary Sessions. The meeting theme for Entomology 2011 is “Identify… Clarify… Speak Out!” This reflects the need for entomologists to inform others about exactly what it is that we do and don’t do. Rapid communication on key issues has not been a hallmark of ESA, and our voices need to be heard, individually and collectively. Arthropods touch the lives of every person on the planet, every day, in both positive and negative ways. Let’s talk about how entomology is the encompassing discipline for many of these interactions.

There are three subthemes for Entomology 2011, each aligned with one of our new goals. The first subtheme is “Entomology and Social Responsibility,” an area where there is an important nexus of science and society. Three of the six Program Symposia, one of the Section Symposia, and several Member Symposia and submitted papers and posters deal with this issue. These are particularly exciting symposia, because an ESA National Meeting has never had this degree of focus on social issues. One issue of particular visibility is the dominance of white males in elected leadership positions in ESA. Therefore, I proposed a new ESA goal that in 10 years the leadership of ESA will look like the membership of ESA.

The second subtheme of the meeting is “Providing Informed, Objective, and Timely Communication,” which relates to the second new ESA goal, that ESA will increasingly become known as a society that provides objective, timely information for the policymakers and the public on important scientific issues. Many of the Program, Section and Member Symposia, plus oral presentations and posters, focus on the role of entomology in key issues such as invasive species; integrated pest management; international collaboration; students and young professionals; food safety; food security; agricultural and environmental sustainability; climate change; Homeland Security; human and animal diseases; systematics and taxonomy; and other priority areas.

The third subtheme of the meeting is “Increasing Global Involvement,” which is related to the third new goal, for ESA to engage even more formally with other entomological groups at all levels. Our new International Branch is key to this activity. Several activities around this subtheme are being developed for Entomology 2011 and into the future.

Keynote address. During the Opening Plenary Session, at 6:30 pm on Sunday, November 13, Ms. Christianne Corbett, a research associate at the American Association of University Women, will discuss women in leadership positions in scientific societies. Ms. Corbett is co-author of Where the Girls Are: The Facts About Gender Equity in Education and the book Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Both of these books are available as free downloads, and I recommend that you check them out before the meeting.

Founder’s Memorial Award Lecture. Dr. Angela Douglas, Daljit S. & Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Insect Physiology and Toxicology at Cornell University, will present the lecture in honor of Professor Reginald Chapman. This presentation will be the highlight of the second evening Plenary Session, starting at 4:45 pm on Monday, November 14.

Symposia. There will be 86 Symposia offered during Entomology 2011 (six Program Symposia, 35 Section Symposia, and 45 Member Symposia). TheProgram Symposia are: 1) Identifying the Current Status of Women in Entomology, Clarifying Initiatives for Retention, and Speaking Out to Share Experience (organized by Patricia Prasifka and Rayda K. Krell); 2) Identify, Clarify, Speak Out: Turning Young People onto Science Through Insects and Ensuring a Future for Entomology! (Sharron Quisenberry and Thomas A. Green); 3) Citizen Scientists in Entomology Research (John Carlson and Mark S. Fox); 4) Bee Declines I - Identification, Clarification, and Communication of the Real Truths(Rosalind James, Jeff Pettis, Theresa Pitts-Singer, and James Strange); 5) The Molecular Physiology of Arthropod Vectors and Pests: Towards the Development of Novel Control Agents and Approaches (Peter M. Piermararini); and 6) Basic Science to Application for Management of Bed Bug Populations (Kenneth F. Haynes, Subba R. Palli, Michael F. Potter, and James D. Harwood).

Virtual Posters. For the third straight year, there will be Virtual (electronic) Posters presented at Entomology 2011. You will be able to view posters from international colleagues who could not attend the meeting, and even discuss the posters with them via streaming video at specific times. This is a great way for the international scientific community to participate in the meeting and interact with attendees at the meeting.

Student Activities. Monday will again focus on student activities. Last year the suggestion was made by many students to try not to schedule student presentations and posters at the same time. Thus, this became a priority for me this year. The Program Committee, led by Co-chairs Andrew Norton and Paul Ode, has been able to make this scheduling change. Student papers will be in the morning, and student posters will start during lunch, and be up for viewing all afternoon. We will also focus on highlighting student activities in the lead-up to Entomology 2011, in eNews and in my occasional column, JustDel.

Section Meetings. Section meetings and symposia will take place on Tuesday, November 14, from 2:00 – 4:30 pm. There will be no competing activities during this time period, and I encourage you to take an active role in your Section, and consider running for an elected office, or volunteer for a committee.

ESA is a society of volunteers. Last year, over 400 members―14% of the attendees—volunteered their time by serving on committees, judging student papers or posters, chairing student paper sessions, working at the help desk, etc. for the Annual Meeting. Our meetings could not be run without this cadre of dedicated people, and I thank them all very much on behalf of ESA for their service.

I am especially grateful to the Annual Meeting Program Committee: Student Competition Co-Chairs Jerome Grant and Michael Jackson; Poster Co-Chairs Megha Parajulee and Bonnie Pendleton; Section Presidents and Vice-Presidents, respectively, Douglas E. Norris and Christopher Geden (Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology); Jeffrey Scott and Subba Palli (Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology); Rogers Leonard and Bonnie Pendleton (Plant-Insect Ecosystems); and Jason Cryan and Kelly Miller (Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity); Student Liaison Cheri Abraham; and Director of Meetings Keith Schlesinger and Meetings Assistant Cassie Mescher. Finally, the meeting would not be possible without the expertise and professionalism of the entire ESA staff, particularly staff liaisons Mary Falcone and Debi Sutton, and new Executive Director C. David Gammel.

Entomology 2011 Program Co-Chairs Andrew Norton and Paul Ode have earned my highest accolades for their dedication. There are literally thousands of details that Program Co-Chairs for a large meeting like this must handle, and they have done so quickly and with good humor. The success of Entomology 2011 is largely due to their magnificent service, so please thank them personally in Reno.

We’ve tried a number of new things for Entomology 2011. I hope you find the meeting challenging, interesting, informative, and fun, and that it helps you Identify, Clarify and Speak Out! about entomological issues. See you in Reno!

Hang in There!

Ernest S. Delfosse, 2011 ESA President

Angela Douglas to Give Founders’ Memorial Lecture

Dr. Angela Douglas, the Daljit S. and Elaine Professor of Insect Physiology and Toxicology at the Department of Entomology at Cornell University, has been selected to deliver the Founders’ Memorial Award lecture at Entomology 2011 – the 59th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) – this November in Reno, Nevada. This year’s honoree is the late Dr. Reginald Frederick Chapman (1930-2003), who had a long and distinguished career as an entomologist in university and government institutions in Britain and America.

ESA established the Founders’ Memorial Award in 1958 to honor scientists whose lives and careers enhanced entomology as a profession and who made significant contributions to the field in general and in their respective subdisciplines. At each Annual Meeting, the recipient of the award addresses the conferees to honor the memory and career of an outstanding entomologist.

Dr. Angela Douglas studies nutritional physiology, including the contribution of symbiotic microorganisms to insect nutrition. She has worked for some years on plant sap feeding insects—especially aphids—and has recently initiated a parallel program on the interactions between drosophilid fruit flies and their gut microbiota. In her research, Angela seeks to explain how insects work in terms of underlying molecular mechanisms, and to use this information to predict how insects interact with other organisms and the wider environment. She also has a general interest in cooperative relationships and has written three books on the subject, including The Symbiotic Habit (Princeton University Press),published in 2010.

Angela hails from the New Forest in the south of England. She received a BA in zoology at Oxford University and a Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen. She worked at the Universities of East Anglia, Oxford, and York in the UK, before moving to the US in 2008. She has received various awards, including a 10-year research fellowship from the Royal Society of London (1986-96), and a research fellowship from the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (2005-08). Angela is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London.

At Cornell, Angela is taking forward her strong research and teaching commitment to insect physiology. Her greatest achievement by far is her contribution to training students and postdoctoral associates, many of whom have successful careers in research and teaching at various universities around the world, in industry, and in non-governmental organizations.

Dr. Reginald Frederick Chapman, the subject of Dr. Douglas’s speech, had the unusual ability to combine exacting original research with inspired teaching. His early career in Africa encouraged a broad approach and exercised his curiosity about the natural world. Later, at Birkbeck College, he had responsibility for an M.Sc. course in entomology, most of which, initially, he taught by himself.

This gave him a very wide grasp of entomology and provided the basis for his extremely successful book, The Insects: Structure and Function. First published in 1969, The Insects has become widely accepted as a graduate text throughout the English-speaking world. The text is arguably one of the most influential books in entomology in the last 50 years, and it was the best selling of the five textbooks he authored.

The scientific contributions for which Reg is most renowned were studies on insect-plant interactions, especially sensory and behavioural aspects of food selection, mainly in locusts and grasshoppers. Reg was one of the first to make quantitative observations of insects in the field, and to combine lab and field studies.

Even after over 100 publications establishing his international reputation for work on food selection, his later years saw publications on plastron respiration in an arachnid, muscle degeneration, and the electrophysiology of olfaction in a whip spider. It is arguable that if he had adopted the approach of most of his contemporaries and confined his attentions to a single theme, sometimes using a single technique, then he would have made a more telling mark and gained greater acclaim. That, however, was never an issue for Reg; the science was the important thing, not the glory.

Honors, such as giving the Distinguished Scientist Lecture at the University of Georgia, receipt of the Silver Medal from the International Society of Chemical Ecology, being appointed Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomology Society, and being elected a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, pleased him but were never an end in themselves. His broad scientific knowledge led him to be an active member of eight scientific societies.

It is very fitting that Angela Douglas be the awardee for the Founders’ Award in honor of Reginald Chapman, as she is currently working with Stephen Simpson to produce a new edited version of Chapman’s The Insects: Structure and Function.

Christianne Corbett to Speak at Entomology 2011

Christianne Corbett, a senior researcher at the American Association of University Women (AAUW), will be the keynote speaker at Entomology 2011, the 59th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA).Her speech will take place during the opening Plenary Session on Sunday, November 13, 2011.

An important subtheme of Entomology 2011 is “Entomology and Social Responsibility,” an area where ESA President Delfosse feels there is an important nexus of science and society, and one issue of particular visibility is the dominance of white males in elected leadership positions in ESA. Ms. Corbett's presentation, "Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics," will address these issues.

In an era when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law and business, why are there so few women scientists, especially in more senior positions? This presentation will describe recent research findings that point to environmental and social barriers –- including stereotypes, gender bias and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities -– that continue to block women’s participation and progress in science, technology, engineering, and math. The presentation will provide insight into the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in organizations like the ESA where women make up a large percentage of the membership but are much more rare among the elected leaders, and it will offer ideas for what each of us can do to more fully open scientific and engineering fields to girls and women at every level.

Before coming to AAUW, Ms. Corbett worked as a legislative fellow in the office of Rep. Carolyn Maloney and as a mechanical design engineer in the aerospace industry. She holds a master's degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a bachelor's degrees in aerospace engineering and government from the University of Notre Dame. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana from 1992 to 1994, she taught math and science to secondary school students. She is the author of "Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics," a research report that presents in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to why there are so few women in the higher levels of math and science.