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AIBS Council Meeting Features Annual Awards, Keynote Lecture

July 1, 2005

 

The annual AIBS Council meeting for representatives from AIBS member societies and organizations was held in Washington, DC, 7–8 May 2005. The council reviews the actions of the AIBS Board of Directors and staff, makes recommendations on matters of policy for action and response by AIBS, considers agenda items brought before it, initiates agenda items for its meetings, and elects up to four of its members to the board of directors.

The briefing book for the 2005 meeting is online at www.aibs.org/council-news/. The site also includes links to the slides used in the keynote lecture, "The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment" (by Cristian Samper, director of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution), and to special program content on open-access journal publishing.

Among the activities featured at the council meeting was the presentation of the AIBS annual awards. AIBS President Marvalee Wake presented the 2005 Distinguished Scientist Award to B. Rosemary Grant and Peter R. Grant, of Princeton University, stating, "For more than thirty years, Rosemary and Peter Grant have studied one of the classic examples of adaptive radiation, Darwin's finches. Their work showing the effects of drought on survivorship and the corresponding evolutionary response is a staple of introductory biology, evolutionary biology, and ecology textbooks worldwide. But this classic series of studies barely hints at the enormous range of topics their work has considered: sexual selection, species recognition, macroevolution, and phylogenetic history, to name a few. Their decades of work [have] led to fundamental new insights into one of the most widely known and important examples used in evolutionary biology."

Wake also presented the 2005 Outstanding Service Award to Jay M. Savage (retired) of the University of Miami. Introducing Savage, Wake remarked, "For more than forty years, the Organization for Tropical Studies [OTS] has been an important part of training organismal biologists, and Jay Savage may be the person most responsible for its founding and continued success, serving as its president from 1974 to 1980 and, according to those who know the organization well, saving it when its fortunes were low in the early 1980s. He was inducted into the Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Costa Rica in 1998 in recognition for his lifetime of efforts associated with OTS. In addition, he was a member of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature for eighteen years [1982–2000] and of the Steering Committee for Systematics Agenda 2000. He has been president of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and the Society of Systematic Biologists."

The 2005 Education Award went to Deidre Labat and the Department of Biology at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.The award was accepted by Michelle B. Boissiere, chair of the Department of Biology at Xavier University. Presenting the award, Wake said, "Deidre Labat is vice president for academic affairs at Xavier University and led an extraordinary effort, while dean of arts and sciences, to enhance the academic success of African-American students. In 1996, Xavier (enrollment 2800) had 77 black graduating seniors accepted to medical school—more than Stanford, Duke, and Cornell combined. Even more remarkably, many students admitted to Xavier had standardized test scores that would have kept them from being admitted to many larger, more 'prestigious' universities. By focusing on students and finding ways to help them to success, Xavier University has succeeded where many others have failed."

The 2005 President's Citation Award was presented to Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. AIBS Past-President Joel Cracraft, of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, presented the award. Cracraft noted that "Kenneth R. Miller, professor of biology at Brown University, has distinguished himself in both science and education. He has been one of the most effective and tireless spokespersons countering intelligent-design creationism through his writings (especially his book, Finding Darwin's God), his lecturing, interviews in the media, and testimony before school boards and the courts. He has received numerous teaching awards from Brown University and has written a number of widely adopted biology textbooks at the high school and college levels." (See www.aibs.org/council-news/ for slides shown by Miller during his acceptance speech, "Evolution Education Update.")

The 2005 Past-President's Award was given to Joel Cracraft. Marvalee Wake, who presented the award, commented, "Joel Cracraft has brought to his three years of commitment to AIBS, particularly his presidency and now his past-presidency, his usual energy, commitment, fervor, and broad ideas. Under his leadership, AIBS is expanding its membership to include college and university departments and centers, more museums, herbaria, and similar institutions, and the corporate world, so that the voice of biology is more widely expressed and communication is broadened. A second major achievement is that Joel initiated a program whereby AIBS, in partnership with the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, presented a symposium on evolution at the annual meeting of the National Association of Biology Teachers, so that current research-based information--and means of incorporating it into teaching — is provided to teachers at the high school and college levels. The first program last year was so successful that it will become a feature for the next several years — thanks to Joel's leadership and energy."

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