History of the PanAmerican SEDB
Dr. Cassandra Extavour and Dr. Allen Rodrigo organized a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored workshop (grant number DBI-1249112), and circulated a community interest survey to over 400 scientists interested in Evo-Devo, as well as to the EvolDir, US EvoDevo and European EvoDevo (jiscmail) listservs. After receiving nearly 400 responses from scientists interested in attending, Cassandra, Allen and the organizing committee (Ehab Abouheif, Pamela Diggle, Brian Hall, Manfred Laubichler, Armin Moczek, Karen Sears, Chelsea Specht, Angelika Stollewerk, Trisha Wittkopp) invited 25 participants representing the broad range backgrounds within the EvoDevo community. Participants came from the USA, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Israel, and the UK. Program officers from the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems of the NSF Steve Klein, Amy Litt, and Anthea Letsou were also in attendance.
Although the NSF grant could support physical attendance of only ~30 participants, an online portal was set up so that anyone interested in participating could follow and/or participate virtually, both in the general discussions and in the breakout discussions.
The major goal of the workshop as stated in the meeting proposal was to address and identify the major needs and concerns of the Evo-Devo community, as follows:
(1) to define the principal intellectual goals and biological questions of Evo-Devo, as it looks to the future;
(2) to identify the next generation of resources and infrastructure necessary to ensure the ongoing success of Evo-Devo research, and propose mechanisms to develop and obtain these resources;
(3) to identify the major gaps in Evo-Devo training and education nationally and internationally, and propose solutions to address these gaps. ·
Meeting participants strongly supported the establishment of a new professional society, provisionally named the “PanAmerican Society of Evolutionary Developmental Biology.” Ehab Abouheif (McGill University), and Karen Sears (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain) volunteered to serve as interim-President and interim-Vice President, respectively. This society is meant to serve the needs of the EvoDevo community in the USA, Canada, Central and South America, and to link these communities with the European and other international communities by interfacing with the thriving European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology.
Our first goal as a society is to put up a website to give us a virtual home to co-ordinate among all the EvoDevo activities and opportunities (Research, Education, Meetings) in Canada, USA, Central and South America, and beyond. The second goal is to hold an inaugural meeting during the summer of 2015. The hope is that at this inaugural meeting, all interested members of the community will participate in discussion and election of council members for the society.
A manuscript led by Manfred Laublicher and Billie Swalla will be completed highlighting the past accomplishments of EvoDevo and demonstrating the progress we have made as a field. A manuscript led by Armin Moczek will focus on the Future of EvoDevo, to highlight the Evodevo’s promise in tackling some of the fundamental questions in biology in the 21st century.