The Year 2000 annual meeting of the SMB took place on the University of Utah Campus at Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 3rd-5th (Thursday to Saturday). The meeting program consisted mostly of parallel sessions of invited and contributed talks on the following topics: Biomechanics (biofluids and molecular motors), Cancer, Development and Ecology, Disease, Genetics, Immunology, and Physiology. There has also been a special symposium on Education, which has become a tradition in SMB annual meetings.
Five very interesting plenary lectures were given: The opening lecture by John Tyson on "Cell cycle controls: Molecules, mechanisms, models" has demonstrated how a topic as complex as cell cycle control, which involves a large number of genes and molecules, can be studied using dynamical systems theory. Tamar Schlick's lecture on "A trajectory of DNA from applied to basic research" has reviewed the history of DNA research and all the new research disciplines which have grown out of it in the last half-century or so, which have revolutionized not only all aspects of basic research in the life sciences but also its application to health, criminal law, and social behavior. Brian Grenfell and Sally Blower represented the field of epidemiology with their talks on "Spatio-temporal dynamics of measles" and "A tale of two futures: HIV and antiretroviral therapy in San Francisco", respectively. Finally, the closing lecture was given by George Oster on "The world's smallest rotary motor" - a fascinating talk accompanied by colorful simulations on an enzyme, ATP synthase, which is composed of two rotary motors acting in opposite directions.
The poster session was very lively, with a large number of participants crowding around the (more than 70!) posters presented, and many of the discussions exceeding the allotted time limits (each presenter was to stand by her/his poster for only one hour). From this point of view, it was good that the poster session was scheduled early in the meeting, leaving time for discussions to continue later in the meeting. There were even prizes for the best posters! (As the number of posters increases every year, I suggest that in future meetings, poster sessions will be divided to 2-3 sessions on different days, or to several rooms according to topic.)
The student career lunch (sponsored by Entelos) was packed full with an interested audience listening to the career advice administered by the three panel speakers - Lou Gross (Tennessee), Kevin Hall (Entelos) and Frank Tobin (SmithKline Beecham). I would suggest that a similar event be offered in future meetings, with more time given for a discussion so students can ask the speakers various questions.
The SMB Board met in the evening preceding the meeting (Wednesday evening), and the business meeting of the SMB took place over lunch on Saturday, before the closing session. This combination, of business meeting over lunch, has created a very pleasant and informal atmosphere, which facilitated the discussion of SMB activities (and probably contributed to the large number of participants!). Quite a few participants said it would be nice if future SMB annual meeting organizers adopt this practice. Issues raised were: announcement of elections results, plans for future meetings and the success of the mentoring program (see other items in this newsletter); the plans of SMB to support other meetings in the field, and the activities of the various committees - education, world outreach and publications - geared towards increasing the awareness to mathematical biology among researchers and students everywhere.
All in all, we had a very enjoyable meeting. See you in Hawaii next year!