On 7 October 2020, the SSAR Board of Directors unanimously voted to postpone the stand-alone meeting in Ann Arbor planned for August 2021. The uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic have made ongoing planning for the meeting untenable. The organizers for the meeting, Alison and Dan Rabosky, as well as the SSAR officers, editors, and Board members, are deeply disappointed at the postponement, but our utmost concern is for the safety and welfare of prospective meeting participants. We are postponing the Ann Arbor meeting to the summer of 2024, and we hope to see everyone there. The SSAR Long-Range Planning Committee members are working on alternate plans for our 2021 meeting, which we will announce in time. Thank you one and all for your understanding.
Herpetological Review September 2020, Volume 51, Number 3. Our cover features an especially colorful example of a Palestine Saw-scaled Viper (Echis coloratus), photographed in southern Israel by Matthieu Berroneau. Matthieu is a French herpetologist and wildlife photographer. Congratulations to Matthieu for his outstanding cover photo!
Full contents are now available online to SSAR members at https://ssarherps.org/herpetological-review-pdfs/. Natural History Notes, Geographic Distribution Notes, and Book Reviews are Open Access and are available for download at the same link. If you are not a member of SSAR, please consider joining the leading international herpetological society. Student and online-only rates available. Follow the “Join SSAR” link on the home page.
We do not yet have a mail date for the print journals due to delays with the Journal of Herpetology.
Faculty who are recruiting students for the 2021-2022 academic year (or postdocs to begin any time) can fill out this form:
The form populates a view-only spreadsheet that prospective applicants can use to find labs that match their interests.
We plan to release a new form + spreadsheet for the 2022-2023 academic year in early 2021.
Prospective applicants to master’s, PhD, and postdoctoral positions can check out this spreadsheet of faculty who are currently recruiting:
The spreadsheet has five separate tabs to help you navigate:
- All advertised positions
- Master’s positions
- PhD positions
- Postdoctoral positions where the PI already has funding
- PIs who don’t currently have funding for postdocs but who are happy to help with postdoctoral fellowship applications
Check back periodically for new entries, which are added to the bottom of the spreadsheet.
Advice for students navigating the application process:
Many programs will cover your tuition, and many will even pay you a stipend. Funding situations vary wildly by department, though, so you should reach out to people whose labs interest you to ask for details.
Sending the first email to a prospective advisor can be intimidating. If you have a mentor who can help you, it’s wise to get their help. If you need to figure out how to write the email on your own, this blog post has some useful tips: https://contemplativemammoth.com/2013/04/08/so-you-want-to-go-to-grad-school-nail-the-inquiry-email/
You will want to choose a lab that not only does research you find interesting, but that will also provide a supportive environment where you can thrive. Many factors go into a good graduate school experience. Bobby Espinoza, a professor at Cal State Northridge, has prepared a list of sample questions that you might want to ask of prospective advisors, their current students (very important!), and other people in the department to collect the information you will need to make an informed graduate school decision: Questions for Prospective Advisors & Programs.
The 2020 winner of the Victor Hutchison Graduate Poster Award is:
Danielle Bradke (University of Georgia), “Sensitivity of capture-recapture using seining to detect changes in Diamondback Terrapin survival in response to management”
The SSAR graduate student poster awards honor Victor Hutchison for his extensive contributions to herpetology and the development of future herpetologists. Because the coronavirus pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 JMIH, we held the 10th annual SSAR Victor Hutchison Student Poster competition in a novel virtual format (Zoom) on 24 July 2020. This year we gave one overall award rather than multiple awards in different categories, owing to the relatively small number of participants. The winner is receiving a check for US $250 and an SSAR book.
The 2020 winner of the George B. Rabb Undergraduate Poster Award is:
Calvin Vick (University of Central Arkansas), “Female lizards alter behavior but not climbing speed while gravid”
SSAR’s George B. Rabb Undergraduate Poster Award is sponsored by Zoo Atlanta and honors our colleague George Rabb (1930-2017), former Director of the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, IL, and highly respected advocate and spokesman for wildlife conservation. 2020 marked the 2nd year of this competition, which was held in a novel virtual format owing to the coronavirus pandemic and cancellation of JMIH. The poster presentations were given via Zoom on 24 July 2020. The winner is receiving a check for US $250 and an SSAR book.
This year’s judges were:
Betsie Rothermel, Chair (Archbold Biological Station), Nicholas Caruso (Virginia Tech), Allyson Fenwick (University of Central Oklahoma), Jennifer Lamb (St. Cloud State University), Chris Thawley (Neumann University)
2020 SSAR Virtual Poster Competitions Committee: Neil Balchan, John Bellah, Jack Friend, Michelle Koo, Joe Mendelson, Calvin Vick, Greg Watkins-Colwell. With special thanks to Marty Crump (President), Jessica Tingle (Chair, Student Participation Committee), and Betsie Rothermel (Chair, Poster Awards Committee), for supporting the program.
Marked declines in herpetological biodiversity are being documented worldwide. SSAR exists to advance research, conservation, and education concerning these species. Therefore, after working out complex logistics with our investment manager, SSAR is pleased to announce that it has divested from oil and gas investments to develop an eco-friendly investment portfolio in line with our mission. When you support SSAR, we want you to know that we are doing our best to spend and invest those funds wisely to support the causes that you value.
SSAR is pleased to announce receipt of a major donation from Dr. William S. Parker, member of the society for more than 50 years. The funds are split 80% for the Conant Grants-in-Herpetology program and 20% for the Dean Metter Memorial Award. Both of these programs provide grants to support graduate student research. The Conant Grants-in-Herpetology program supports student research in seven categories—conservation, field research, laboratory research, travel, international, herpetological education, and undergraduate research in herpetology. The Dean Metter Memorial Award supports field research anywhere in the world, but with preference for work in his home state of Missouri. Bill’s generous donation will help to further the careers of many future professional herpetologists. When asked why he chose to donate to these two particular funds, Bill said, “Receipt of similar grant monies greatly enhanced my graduate research experiences.”
Bill Parker received his BA degree from Wabash College in Indiana in 1964. He received his MS degree from Arizona State University in 1966, working with Martin J. (“Jack”) Fouquette and Wendell L. Minckley. From 1966 to 1967 he was a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Kansas, working with Henry S. Fitch, and from 1967 to 1970 he served as an Artillery/Air Defense Officer in the U.S. Army. Bill returned to graduate school and earned his PhD from the University of Utah in 1974 under the direction of Harold F. Hirth. He served as Professor of Biology at Mississippi University for Women from 1974 until 2007 and is currently Emeritus Professor of Biology at that university. Bill’s research interests have focused broadly on reptile ecology. Throughout his long career he has published dozens of journal articles, symposium contributions, and book chapters on the ecology of lizards, snakes, and turtles. His subjects have included horned lizards, desert spiny lizards, leopard lizards, fence lizards, desert iguanas, banded geckos, box turtles, slider turtles, whipsnakes, rattlesnakes, and more. Many of his publications were co-authored with William S. Brown on snakes and Eric R. Pianka on lizards.
From January 1991 through March 2006, Bill served as Managing Editor of Journal of Herpetology. He saw the journal through 61 issues during those years, a record-long period spanning the terms of four consecutive editors. Bill retains a certain amount of pride in having helped so many authors, including those from over 50 different countries, complete their publication experience.
Bill has long been actively involved in volunteer work, including a local crisis phoneline, local animal shelters, local arts councils, and local photography contests. His current interests include photography, travel, classical music by women, reading, and philanthropy. SSAR thanks Bill for his long-time dedication to the society, which now includes his generous support of student research.
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Herpetological Review. The cover of this second issue takes a look back at the cover images published during the period of 2001 to 2006. Featured photographers were Steve Wilson, Jim Bridges, Will Brown, Tim Paine, Bill Love, William Lamar, Alejandro Solórzano, Michael Burger, Danté Fenolio, Masamichi Yamishita/Richard Wassersug, Michael Kern, Louis Porras, Indraneil Das, Brian Freiermuth, Lee Grismer, Nikolai Orlov, Paul Freed, Joan François Obbes (artist), and Guido Sterkendries.
This issue is scheduled to be mailed in late June, and full contents are now available online to SSAR members at https://ssarherps.org/herpetological-review-pdfs/. All Natural History Notes, Geographic Distribution Notes, Book Reviews, and other select sections are Open Access and are available for download at the same link. If you are not a member of SSAR, please consider joining the leading international herpetological society. Student and online-only rates available. See here for more details: https://ssarherps.org/about-ssar/membership/.
Dr. David M. Sever passed away on 19 April 2019. David was well known in the herpetological community for over 40 years of work on the natural history of amphibians and reptiles, specifically the evolution of primary and secondary sexual characteristics. David was a long-time member of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR), and its predecessor, The Ohio Herpetological Society, and had been attending herpetological conferences since the early 1970s. David recognized the importance of scientific societies and presenting research at conferences and encouraged all of his students to attend the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, sponsored by three societies of which he was an active member (American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, The Herpetologists’ League, and SSAR). In lieu of flowers and other gifts, Marlis Sever (David’s wife) has requested that donations be made in his name to a travel fund that SSAR has agreed to maintain and earmark for student travel to SSAR–sponsored conferences. Those donations can be made here.
The Joint Meeting of Ichthyology and Herpetology (JMIH) Meeting Management and Planning Committee (MMPC) met 11 April 2017 through 13 April 2019, and their report is available here: JMIH MMPC Report