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The Cell’s View of Animal Body Plan Evolution: a symposium at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology January 3-7, 2014 Austin, TX

Posted by , on 14 August 2013

Symposium: The cell’s view of animal body plan evolution

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) Annual Meeting

January 3-7, 2014  Austin, TX

Abstract submission deadline: August 26 2013

Registration deadline: November 9, 2013


Understanding how diverse animal body plans evolved remains one of the most exciting and challenging goals for evolutionary and developmental biologists alike. Over the past few decades, genomic and molecular genetic approaches have provided insights into which gene networks regulate cell fate specification.  It is less well understood how specification states launch specific cell biological properties, such as polarity, migration, and adhesion.  Yet, cells are the fundamental unit of all biological structures and phenomena – evolution shapes phenotypes by ultimately tinkering with cellular characteristics.  With recent advances in applying modern molecular, live-imaging, and modeling techniques to a broader range of experimental systems, can we now compare cell types across animal species to understand how they have mediated organismal evolution?  This symposium will bring together researchers who use varied approaches to test hypotheses at multiple levels of biological organization, ranging from systems-level studies of gene regulatory networks for cell behaviors to modeling cytoskeletal dynamics that drive tissue morphogenesis.

“Cellular Evolutionary Developmental Biology” does not exist as a codified field. Because of recent breakthroughs in research methods, this is the ideal time to discuss what it will look like in the near future. The diversity of expertise and perspectives present at the annual SICB meeting makes it an ideal venue to consider such an integrative topic. We hope that this symposium will stimulate a  synthesis that can inform new directions in the field in the future. The invited speaker symposium covers topics including cytoskeletal dynamics underlying patterning and morphogenesis of tissues, specification and gene regulatory networks leading to cellular behaviors and comparative cell biology of regeneration.

A poster session will follow this day long symposium. A complementary session of shorter contributed talks will be held on a different day. We encourage researchers to submit abstracts on a broad range of research topics pertaining to the evolution of development and developmental cell biology. We will select 10-15 short (15 minute) talks from submitted abstracts. We have a limited number of travel scholarships available to support the participation of students, postdoctoral researchers, and earl-career professors.

Make sure to select our symposium from the pull down menu when you submit your abstract ( Feel free to contact the organizers if you have any questions.


Deirdre Lyons, Postdoctoral Researcher, Duke University (

Mansi Srivastava, Postdoctoral Fellow, Whitehead Institute (

Mark Martindale, Directory, Whitney Marine Laboratory (


Funding Opportunities:

Some funding is available for those who present a poster or talk as part of this symposium to help defray the cost of attending the meeting. Preference will be given on a primarily need basis to junior scientists (students, post-docs and junior faculty), current members of the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB), and those from under-represented minorities and those with disabilities.  To apply, send an email by September 1, 2013 to Dede Lyons ( with the following information:

1) Name, institution, lab and position (student, post-doc, etc.)

2) The title and abstract of your poster or talk. Please indicate if you requested a talk or poster

3) Indicate whether you are a current SDB member and/or belong to an under-represented minority or have a disability

3) Cost of attending the meeting, broken down by travel, lodging, and registration costs

4) Alternative funding sources and amounts available to you

5) The amount you are requesting for funding from the symposium


Other sources of funding are available through SICB:

Confirmed Speakers:

Sally Horne-Badovinac 

Assistant Professor, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology University of Chicago)


Title: “Mechanisms of egg chamber elongation in Drosophila”


Ed Munro 

Professor, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology University of Chicago


Title: “Dynamics of tissue morphogenesis in ascidians”


Jennifer Zallen 

SICB_CellEvoDevoAssociate Member, Sloan-Kettering Institute


Title: “Co-ordination of cell movements to shape tissue morphology in Drosophila”


Dave McClay 

Professor, Department of Biology Duke University


Title: “Sequential control of morphogenesis and pattern formation in the sea urchin embryo”


Bob Goldstein 

Professor, Biology Department UNC Chapel Hill


Title: “Using C. elegans and other organisms to understand conserved mechanisms of morphogenesis”


Matt Gibson 

Associate Investigator, Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Assistant Professor, Anatomy and Cell Biology University of Kansas School of Medicine


Title: “Cellular and molecular mechanisms of tentacle morphogenesis in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis”


Reiko Kuroda 

Professor, Department of Life Science University of Tokyo


Title: “How a single gene twists a snail”


Leslie Babonis 

Postdoctoral Researcher, Kewalo Marine Laboratory


Title: “The influence of the extracellular matrix on differentiation of cnidocytes”


Josien van Wolfswinkel 

Postdoctoral Associate, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research


Title: Heterogeneity in planarian neoblasts by single cell analysis


Alexa Bely 

Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Maryland


Title: “Using live imaging to probe the cellular basis of annelid regeneration”


John Wallingford 

Associate Professor, Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology University of Texas Austin


Title: TBD


Supported by:


American Microscopical Society

Society for Developmental Biology

Company of Biologists
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