Category Archives: President’s Blog

President-Elect Vote Extended to March 14, 2024

Dear Members,

As you may be aware, the Society is currently holding a special election for the office of President-Elect.

Due to low voter turnout, we have decided to extend the ballot for one more week. The ballot will now be open until 14 March 2024 at 12 PM EST.

For members who have not already voted PLEASE VOTE NOW! Follow this link to the ballot.

Please note, following Dr. Stephen Trumble withdrawing his candidature last week, members who have yet to cast their vote can either endorse the remaining candidate, Dr. Jeremy Kiszka, or abstain.

For members who voted prior to 28 February, any votes cast for Dr. Trumble will be converted to ‘abstain’.

All the best,
Katharina J Peters
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee

Please vote for the next SMM President-Elect

Dear Member,

As communicated on the 12th February, we are holding a special ‘snap’ election for the office of President-Elect to fill the role effective immediately. The ballot will be open for 2 weeks until 7 March 2024 at 12 PM EST.

Please sign in and vote here.

Thank you for your participation and your continued support of the Society and its values.

Katharina J. Peters
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee

Special election to be held for the office of President-Elect

Dear Members,

This message is to inform you that we will shortly be holding a special ‘snap’ election for the office of President-Elect, following the resignation of Dr. Daniel Palacios from the position on 18 January 2024, approximately one year into his 2.5-year term (note that current Board members have an extended term to accommodate the delay in the timing of the 24th Biennial).

Our Secretary, Dr. Jeremy Kiszka, has agreed to act in the role of President-Elect (as well as Secretary) as our Constitution provides a path for the Board to fill the vacancy of the President-Elect office through succession, with the Secretary succeeding into the role of President- Elect (Article XI). However, Article XI also states that an ‘officer who succeeds to the position of President-Elect will not succeed to the Presidency unless elected by the membership in a regular election.’

To address this requirement, the Board has decided to hold a special election so that the person elected to the office of President-Elect can then succeed to the Presidency.

Normally, elections are held following the Biennial Meeting and the General Members Meeting. However, this option is not favored by the Board because it could lead to the Society having both a new President and a new President-Elect commencing their terms simultaneously, with the elected President having very limited time (perhaps just a few months) to serve as President-Elect before becoming President (in July 2025). The Board considers that this is not enough time to become familiar with the complex and demanding responsibilities of the President. The President-Elect position, by design, straddles successive Boards in recognition of the multiple responsibilities that must be learned during the period of office (usually 2 years).

The special election will ensure the elected President-Elect has sufficient time to gain critical experience to effectively execute their responsibilities as President; enable the Board to address the loss of an officer quickly and move forward with their critical, time-sensitive duties on behalf of the Society; and resolve the current requirement from Article XI and appoint (via special election) a President-Elect that can ascend to the Presidency.

The special election will conform to the regular election process. This involves the Nominations and Elections Committee providing the Board ‘with a slate of no more than two candidates’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.1), and the holding of an open online General Members Meeting lasting 5 days, during which ‘additional candidates may be nominated by Society members’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.2), followed by ‘an electronic ballot’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.3).

The open online General Members Meeting will commence Monday 12 February and close at 12 midnight GMT on Friday 16 February 2024. This meeting will provide the window of time during which members may nominate a candidate for President-Elect.

All candidates for President-Elect must be current members of the Society, be willing to serve as a member of the Board of Governors and provide a background and vision statement of up to 300 words (General Operating Policies 4.8.2).

If you are nominating a colleague for this position, please ensure that the individual agrees to be nominated and meets the criteria listed above. Nominators, and the individual seconding the nomination, must also be current members of the Society.

To nominate a colleague, please send the name of the nominee, your full name and the name of the individual seconding the nomination to Please direct the nominee to send their statement of interest and photo to the same email address with subject heading, “President-Elect Nominee Statement”.

The open online General Members Meeting will be followed by the electronic ballot (members to be notified by email).

I encourage any members considering being nominated for the position of President-Elect to contact the President to discuss the role beforehand.

The Nominations and Election Committee, with the approval of the Board, have put forward a single nomination for the position of President-Elect, Dr. Jeremy Kiszka (acting President-Elect).

Any additional candidates nominated during the 5-day open online General Members Meeting will be included in the ballot.

If any member has any questions regarding the election, please contact myself ( or Katharina Peters (Nominations and Elections Committee chair,

Kind regards,

Simon Goldsworthy
The Society for Marine Mammalogy

Congratulations to our new Honorary Members, Miriam Marmontel and Barb Taylor

Dear Members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy,

I am thrilled to announce that both Miriam Marmontel and Barbara Taylor have been selected as honorary members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. This prestigious honour is a testament to their unparalleled dedication, significant contributions, and profound impact on the field of marine mammalogy, and I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Miriam and Barbara.

Miriam and Barbara have exemplified excellence in their respective roles, pioneering advancements in research, conservation, and education related to marine mammalogy. Their unwavering commitment to understanding and protecting marine mammals has not only enriched our scientific community but has also inspired countless individuals to follow in their footsteps.

As honorary members, Miriam and Barbara join an esteemed cohort of individuals whose passion and expertise have shaped the course of marine mammalogy and paved the way for a deeper understanding of these fascinating creatures. Their induction as honorary members underscores their significant contributions to our society and reinforces our collective commitment to advancing the field of marine mammalogy.

Please join me in congratulating Miriam and Barbara on this well-deserved honour. We look forward to celebrating their achievements and continued impact within our society and beyond.

Katharina J. Peters
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee

Vote for SMM’s 2024 Honorary Member(s)

Dear Members,

This is your reminder to vote for SMM’s Honorary Member nominees by 30 January 2024.

We are pleased to present two new nominees to become Honorary Members for you to vote on. An Honorary Member is a member recognized for distinguished service to the field of marine mammalogy, as recommended unanimously by the Board of Governors, and elected by two-thirds of the voting members. Honorary Members have all the privileges of full members but are exempt from dues.

Here is the link to the ballot:

The ballot will close at 3:00 PM EST on 30 January 2024.

Best wishes,
Katharina J. Peters
Nominations and Elections Committee Chair

Deadline to Nominate an SMM Fellow is 15 January 2024

In 2019, the members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) voted to establish a Fellows Membership Category. We are pleased to announce our Society’s second call for nominations of Fellow Members.

The SMM Constitution identifies a ‘Fellow’ as a member who is being recognized by the Society and its membership as having “rendered conspicuous service or made truly notable contributions to the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of marine mammal science or the fostering of its practical applications through conservation of marine mammals. Payment of dues to the Society by the Fellow would remain the same as for a normal Full member.”

Nominations are Open.
The deadline to nominate a fellow is 15 January 2024. So please come nominate a Fellow for the Society.

Any current Full member of the SMM after being a Full member for a minimum of five years is eligible. These five years do not have to be contiguous. Please confirm with the nominee that they meet the five-year eligibility criterion prior to submission.

Note: the current members of the SMM Board (which includes elected officers and committee chairs) are not eligible for consideration for Fellows status.

If you are a current SMM member, you may nominate an eligible SMM member as a Fellow. We ask that you submit a complete dossier, described in detail below, to the Fellows Nomination web page by 15 January 2024. The dossier must be uploaded to the Fellows Nomination web page as a single .pdf document.

Each dossier shall include the following elements.

(1) Letter of Nomination. This letter should provide insight into a nominee’s service, notable contributions to the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of marine mammal science, or the fostering of its practical applications through the conservation of marine mammals. The nominating letter can be no longer than one page (12 pt font).
The Committee will consider the following factors:

  1. service to the Society;
  2. contributions to marine mammal science including activities such as publications and presentations, field work, research and development, or administrative and logistical support; or
  3. contributions to the teaching or dissemination of knowledge of marine mammal science and conservation. Due to the diversity of disciplines and activities of The Society for Marine Mammalogy members, the relative importance of these factors will differ from candidate to candidate. The Fellow candidate would be expected to be exemplary in, and have made substantial contributions to, at least one of these factors (e.g. be in the top 10% of the membership).

(2) Seconding letters. The dossier should also include two seconding letters, one of which must be from a current SMM member. Signed-in SMM members can search for all current members via the SMM Member Directory. Each seconding letter can be no longer than one page (12 pt font).

(3) Complete curriculum vitae of the nominee. The format and length of this document is unrestricted, as we are encouraging nominations of individuals from broadly different backgrounds and the standard CV formats across fields are likely different. Note that only text should be submitted as part of the CV. If audio or video files are relevant provide a link in the documents submitted.

(4) Proposed maximum 20-word citation for the Fellow (e.g., Kenneth S. Norris – for efforts to found the Society and contributions to the process of dolphin echolocation and hearing).

All materials must be uploaded here:

The dossiers will be received by the committee Co-chairs and the SMM Members-at-Large.

Identifying information about the nominator and seconders will be redacted from each dossier to ensure a blind review. The Fellows Committees will be Co-Chaired by the Members-at-Large, who will form a committee of seven members holding Fellow status, and at least one contributing, but not voting student member, with attention paid to diversity of representation. Members will serve staggered, four-year terms. Fellows Committee members may not submit nominations. For more information about the Fellows Committee, please see the General Operating Policies of our SMM governing documents.

If you have any questions about the nomination process, please reach out to the Co-Chairs of the Fellows Committee, our Members-at-Large:
Cindy Peter and Dipani Sutaria (
For any technical questions regarding the online application, please email

Thank you,
Members-at-Large 2023
Society of Marine Mammalogy

Submit your nominations for the 2023 SMM Fellows

The SMM Fellows Program is now accepting nominations. From our Constitution, a Fellow is a member who is being recognized by the Society and its membership as having “rendered conspicuous service or made truly notable contributions to the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of marine mammal science or the fostering of its practical applications through conservation of marine mammals”. A nomination for advancement to Fellow is appropriate for any current Full member of the SMM after that individual has been a Full member for a minimum of five years.

If you are a current SMM member, you may nominate an eligible SMM member as a Fellow. We ask that you submit a complete dossier, described in detail below, to the Fellows Nomination web page by 18 November 2023. The dossier must be uploaded to the Fellows Nomination web page as a single .pdf document.

If you have any questions about the nomination process, please reach out to the Co-Chairs of the Fellows Committee, our Members-at-Large:

Cindy Peter and Dipani Sutaria (

For any technical questions regarding the online application, please email

Thank you in advance for your nominations!

Best regards,

Cindy Peter and Dipani Sutaria

Financial Update from SMM

Hi All,

Hard to believe another few months has passed since the last (April) newsletter. As indicated then, a key focus of the Board has been taking stock of the impacts of the last few years on the Society’s financial situation (e.g., COVID, year delay of the Florida conference, stock market performance). Our Treasurer, Dee Allen, has been tirelessly working with our former Treasurer Katie Moore, Marsha Flood from Talley Management Group (who manage the Society’s accounts), Danette Harfst from Harfst and Associates (who manage the Society’s investments), and other committee chairs and myself to assess and summarise the SMM’s financial situation over the last four years, as well as our expected revenue and expenses through to the end of 2023. This was presented to the Board at our recent Board Meeting (6 July).

To summarise briefly, the operating budget of the Society has run at a net loss over the last four years and is expected to do so again in 2023 (~$1M operating loss over five years). To cover these losses, we have had to successively draw down on the unrestricted funds in the Society’s investment portfolio (i.e. liquidate assets). On current projected expenses and revenue, there will be no unrestricted funds remaining by this time next year.

As the Small Grants-in-Aid of Research (SGIAR) program is funded through these unrestricted funds, we cannot launch the 2023 round until financial issues are addressed. As the Society’s ‘named’ and Conservation awards are funded through the Society’s restricted investment funds (that can only be paid out to awardees), they have remained largely unaffected by the Society’s cash-flow issues, but of course are subject to fluctuations in the stock market. With the downturn in the stock market in 2022, a decision was made to delay the Conservation fund call-for-proposals until mid-2024.

The Board will reconvene in a month to develop a financial plan and strategy to address the current situation. At its most basic, this will need to include a strategy to minimise our current losses, grow and diversify our revenue base, and grow our unrestricted funds back to a point where they are investments with a spending policy (i.e., not to be continuously drawn down). We will keep the membership informed of the steps we will be taking to improve the financial situation of the Society.

One immediate way our Society can improve its bottom line is to encourage all lapsed members to renew their membership. Current membership is running at about 70% of what it usually is. (If you are receiving this newsletter, your membership is currently active. An early renewal of your membership will be added onto your existing membership.) We will be initiating a mail-out shortly to encourage renewal of memberships, so if you have friends or colleagues whose memberships have lapsed, please encourage them to re-join! If you are a longtime member, please consider becoming a lifetime member of the Society to save yourself money over time and to help the Society through this challenging time.

On a more positive note, I want to thank all the members who participated in the recent SMM Science Communication meeting. Over the coming weeks we hope that this re-badged ad-hoc social media committee will begin to develop a strategy to consolidate and improve the coordination of the Society’s various scientific communication platforms and products (e.g., web pages, e-mails, social media, podcasts, conferences, and the broader virtual environment) with a dedicated team who are innovative and media savvy. The intent will be for the committee to help us more strategically and consistently communicate the work being done by our committees, garner more attention from the general public about our work and the work we support. It is hoped this can be part of the solution to broadening the financial support for our Society (support through sponsors, donations, legacy giving, etc)!

More good news – the Perth 2024 SMM Conference Team continue to advance conference planning and I am pleased to announce a sneak preview of the Perth 2024 SMM logo below! The official conference launch with website and prospectus is anticipated to occur in the next couple of months, so stay tuned!

Thanks again to my SMM team and to all our members for their contributions to our field. Our Society remains strong!


Simon Goldsworthy
President, Society for Marine Mammalogy

Small Grants in Aid of Research 2023 Program Postponed

Dear Colleagues,

The Society has incurred significant financial losses due to COVID, the delayed biennial conference and additional costs. Therefore, we cannot launch the 2023 Small Grants-in-Aid of Research (SGIAR) program until financial issues are addressed.

We understand the importance of this program to our early career colleagues worldwide, and we are working very hard to make sure the program continues.

Laura May-Collado
Chair of the Committee of Scientific Advisors
Simon Goldsworthy
President of the Society

Signing off as your President

Aloha SMM Community-

Welcome to 2023!  With the new year comes the transition to our new SMM Board. There is a lot of change to the Board this year which should bring fresh ideas and new energy.  Your new Board is as follows:

Simon Goldsworthy, President
Daniel Palacios, President-Elect (elected 2022)
Jeremy Kiszka, Secretary (elected 2022)
Dee Allen, Treasurer (elected 2022)
Cindy Peter, Senior Member-at-Large
Dipani Sutaria, Member-at-Large
Ayça Eleman, Student Member-at-Large
Theresa Tatom-Naecker, Student Member-at-Large
Sophia Volzke, Student Member-at-Large (elected 2022)
Clinton Factheu, Student Member-at-Large (elected 2022, starts staggered term in 1 year)

Your committee chairs:
Katharina Peters, Nominations and Elections (Started 2023)
Nico Ransome, Membership (Started 2023)
Eric Archer, Diversity and Inclusion (Full committee by vote in 2022)
Eduardo Secchi, Conservation
Laura May-Collado, Committee of Scientific Advisors
Lucy Keith-Diagne, International Relations
Mridula Srinivasan, Education Committee
Lindsay Porter,  Awards and Scholarships
Daryl Boness, Board of Editors
Karen Stockin, Ethics Advisory
Patty Rosel, Taxonomy
Doug Wartzok, Archives (ad hoc)

Congratulations to our newest board members and thank you in advance  to the entire board for all the great work you will do for our community.  Thank you to the officers and committee chairs who are stepping down from their Board service: Katie Moore (Treasurer), Tara Cox (Secretary),  Cecile Vincent (Member-at-Large), Eric Angel Ramos (Student Member-at-Large), Chris Parsons (Membership), and Emer Rogan (Nominations and Elections).  They have all served you incredibly well in their positions and deserve a thank you and maybe a glass of wine  or beer at the next conference.

Other Ballot Results
I alluded to it above but I am excited to report that there was incredibly strong support for transitioning our Diversity and Inclusion Committee from ad hoc status to a full committee.  The D&I Committee has done great work under the leadership of Eric Archer and Tara Cox. This work will no doubt continue but the committee chair will now have an important vote for broader Society business as well.
Even though we are only 5 months out from our great Palm Beach conference the Perth team is already deep into the planning for 2024.  And now we know where we will go in 2026!  By a quite considerable margin, Puerto Rico was chosen by the membership to host our 2026 meeting.  Venue and hotel selection has already launched for Puerto Rico 2026.

Aloha, a hui hou
With the coming of the new year comes the end of my role on the SMM Board as well.  The last 4.5 years as President-Elect and President have been incredibly challenging and rewarding.  Despite the challenges and disruptions presented by COVID we have advanced on so many fronts.  We continued our tradition of supporting marine mammal science around the globe with our Small Grants in Aid of Research and the inaugural round of Conservation Fund Grants. Through great work by our conservation fund manager and generous donations from members we were able to fund more conservation awards than we had planned.

We also continued to expand our scientific communication.  Our SMM podcast, guided by Chris Parsons and Ashley Scarlet continues to go strong and increase listenership around the world.  The Editors’ Select Series has turned into a popular showcase of some of the most interesting science from the journal and provides an opportunity for students to engage with leading scientists.  I thank Katherina Audley and Daryl Boness for helping establish the program and for our Student Members-at-Large for taking it over and sustaining it.

We also made important strides in terms of equity and inclusion.  There is still a long way to go but we were able to establish a program to assist authors for whom English is a second language to remove barriers to publication in Marine Mammal Science.  We proposed and you supported the establishment of equitable, income-based membership rates.  We held a series of important conversations on women in marine mammal science, inclusive spaces for queer scientists, research challenges in Asia, and equity in internships.  To increase global access to our biennial meeting we supported a hybrid conference and waived the cost of registration for anyone that needed support.

Despite seemingly insurmountable odds at times, our SMM conference team was able to pull off a great conference in West Palm Beach.  Thank you a thousand times over to everyone that was involved in planning SMM2021…then SMM2022!  You helped usher in a new future for our meetings.

All of the above was done on top of all of the other work our committees are doing on a variety of fronts – supporting students and international researchers, creating education materials, engaging in conservation challenges around the globe, and so much more. The SMM Board has my deepest gratitude for their creativity, thoughtfulness and tireless efforts to continue this hard work when each of them was facing their own struggles over the years.  MAHALO to Katherina Audley and Jarrett Corke, two wonderful partners in crime, who are heroes behind the scenes to make all of this stuff happen. And thanks to you, our SMM membership, for the work you do in marine mammal science and for your support and engagement in our Society.

A world dramatically turned on its head during a pandemic and social/political unrest was not what any of us had in mind when we took on these roles but I still leave proud of the work that this team did for our Society.  I wish the next Board the best of luck and as always, encourage each and every one of you to find a way to get involved to help shape the future of the SMM.  Thanks for trusting me with the responsibility for the past half-a-decade or so.  Time for a long nap!

Officially signing off! Be safe and well.