Associate Professor of Biology Dave Angelini has been named to the executive committee of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), the largest and most prestigious professional association of its kind. Angelini will serve as chair of the Division of Evolutionary Developmental Biology starting in January 2021.
An expert in evolutionary developmental biology (EvoDevo), Angelini said he was honored to be asked to join the society. His appointment comes on the heels of a four-year position as secretary of the Pan-American Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology.
The SICB, founded in 1902, encourages interdisciplinary cooperative research that integrates across various aspects of biology, promoting new models and methodologies to enhance research and education, Angelini said.
As chair, Angelini will advocate for other EvoDevo professionals, especially students and early-career researchers and professors.
“I’m going to be very interested in undergraduate involvement with the society,” Angelini said. He would like to invite the SICB to provide recommendations around the undergraduate curriculum in the field of evolutionary developmental biology, a subject not often included in the undergraduate curriculum. “But I teach it at Colby,” Angelini said, “and I’d just love to give some serious thought to how the field can be represented and ways to make that happen and resources to provide to support people who want to do it.”
Supporting students and junior members of the field is key to the society’s mission. “A lot of what we do revolves around trying to provide opportunities for people, especially from underrepresented parts of the world, Latin America, especially, to have a forum where they can present their work and get the kind of recognition amidst the larger scientific community that they deserve,” he said.
Angelini should know. As a student, he attended SICB meetings himself and found them important. ”They were very formative, very important experiences,” he said. ”So to the extent that I can provide that for other new people in the field, that’s what I want to do.”
These opportunities include speaking at conferences, serving within the society, and attending society meetings, especially critical for students to present their work and expand their networks. Other opportunities exist through the society’s professional journals and with its robust online presence.
Among Angelini’s goals when he becomes chair is to expand the geographic inclusivity and education of the division, to make global connections and learn more broadly about what’s happening in the field. He also hopes to increase the society’s educational outreach to the general public and K-12 schools, using as a model his own citizen science project, Bugs in our Backyard.
Angelini believes strongly in the importance of having an understanding of the natural world, especially during this pandemic with so many people experiencing nature deprivation. “The natural world has impacts on our way of life, whether we choose to recognize that or not,” he said. “And I think as citizens it’s really important for people to understand the role that biology plays in their lives, the impact that it can have on their lives.”