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Dear SMB member:

There are several exciting developments worth reporting on, and details for some of these will be found elsewhere in the newsletter. First, plans are proceeding for the annual meeting in Utah in 2000, under the leadership of Mark Lewis. An exciting program is being planned, and this is a beautiful location for a meeting in the summer - with nice vacation opportunities nearby if you have time before or after the meeting. The meeting will include a broad range of invited speakers and symposia, with plenty of time for informal interaction.

We are also beginning to work on plans for meeting in 2001, joint with the Japan Association of Mathematical Biology (JAMB). Initial response from the members of the Japanese Society was described as enthusiastic. I will be looking for someone to help co-ordinate this meeting, with Hawaii as the most reasonable location. Given the success of our joint meeting last year with the European Society, the possibility of another joint meeting is very exciting.

Academic Press, the publisher of our Society’s journal, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, agreed to hold the price charged to our members at the current level for 2001, in exchange for our Society members encouraging their libraries to subscribe. I realize that libraries have tight budgets, and you may feel that encouraging subscription to a journal you already receive is not important. However, our journal’s future cost to you, and its future in other ways, depends on a broad subscription base. The readership for the papers you publish in the journal depends on broad accessibility as well. Thus, I would encourage you to make sure your library subscribes, either to the hard copy, the electronic version, or both. As well, please do renew your Society membership for 2001, and encourage colleagues and students to join.

I would like to thank Ray Mejia for attending, as the Society’s representative, a Presidents Summit run by the American Institute of Biological Sciences in Washington D.C. in November. As Ray noted, mathematical biology as a discipline was recognized as Dr. Rita Colwell, Director of NSF, emphasized the role and importance of mathematics in biology. This recognition has also been backed up by grant initiatives, including the current call for biocomplexity grants from NSF. However, as Ray noted, courses in biomathematics or mathematical biology or modeling are essentially absent from undergraduate curricula. This is an area where we (both individually and as a Society) should be able to have an impact, and availability of good undergraduate training is important for producing future workers in mathematical biology.

The outcome of the summit was to develop a series of eight initiatives in the following areas:

  1. Rational Making of Case for Biosciences
  2. Evaluate and Propose Models of Undergraduate Curricula in Biology
  3. Exploring Life: Initiate New Funding Opportunities
  4. Collaborative Biological Resource for K-12 Teachers
  5. AIBS Millennium Fellows (Diversity)
  6. Evolution Initiative
  7. Public Issues Council
  8. Expand Public Policy.
SMB can contribute to a number of these areas, and many are in line with current SMB initiatives.

I would finally like to thank our publications chairperson, Ramit Mehr, who is one of many working hard for the Society. If you, or someone you know wants to participate more in the workings of the Society, note that the time for Society elections is drawing nearer, and if you have suggestions please do contact the nomination committee. Once again, I would like to emphasize that you should feel free to contact me or other officers with any comments, suggestions, or questions.

Yours sincerely,
Alan Hastings
President, Society for Mathematical Biology