01 February 2016

Okay, SICB students and post-docs, I’m your guy

I knew this was coming, but I just got the official email.

I am writing to appoint you as Chair of the Student & Postdoctoral Affairs Committee within the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Your appointment will be for three years, starting immediately and running until the end of the annual meeting in January of 2019.

I had been approached about this back before the last SICB meeting in Portland. I thought a very, very long time before stepping up and accepting this.

I was extremely hesitant about being another old white guy in a leadership position of a scientific society. This is especially true of a leadership position that is about engagement of young researchers, the place where our diversity in the sciences is the greatest.

I also paused when I considered that I’m at an institution with no doctoral programs or post-docs. Yes, I’m a graduate program coordinator for my department, but it’s a master’s program. Would I be in touch enough with the realities of the more advanced training programs that would make up the bulk of the constituents?

Finally, I had a truly selfish reason: committee work will cut into research time. And the research had been going well, and I don’t want that to stop.

Ultimately, one of the main reasons I agreed to do this was that the hint was dropped that if I didn’t do the student committee, the Executive Committee would keep after me to do something for the society. The judgement had been rendered, and it was all a question of how sentence would be carried out. I picked the devil I knew versus the one I didn’t.

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