Hello Good Colleagues!
It has been a busy few months for the Society, and I would like to highlight just a few of these events here.
To begin, please join me in welcoming Dr. Mridula Srinivasan as our new Chair of the Education Committee. Mridula is a very active member of the SMM and helped lead the Women in Marine Mammal Science (WIMMS) Workshop in Halifax. She has worked globally to promote marine mammal science and will bring her commitment to building inclusive communities to her new role. I also wish to thank all the fine individuals who stated their interest in this position – we are very fortunate to have dedicated and passionate colleagues willing to serve our Society.
On November 10-11, we held our interim SMM Board meeting in Barcelona, which included a joint meeting with the Council of the European Cetacean Society (ECS), to discuss and plan for the World Marine Mammal Conference (WMMC). Manel Gazo and Carla Alvarez Chicote, the WMMC Co-Chairs, were our gracious hosts. Many thoughts about the Conference come to mind at once! Our host city of Barcelona is as beautiful, historically-rich, and friendly as you have heard, and Carla and Manel are working very hard to ensure that you will have an opportunity to learn more about, and visit parts of, their city during the Conference. The site of the WMMC, the Barcelona International Convention Center (CCIB), is a world-class facility on the waterfront, which will provide us beautiful and extremely functional space for all our events. The Scientific Co-Chairs, Joan Gonzalvo and Frances Gulland, are developing an exciting program befitting a World Conference, and the Student Organizing Committee, Serena Lagorio and Rebecca Boys (ECS) and Courtney Smith and Raquel García Vernet (SMM) are planning a multitude of science and social events for the student attendees! In addition, there is a small army of dedicated folks who will be working virtually non-stop from now until December 2019 to ensure that the WMMC is a truly global and impactful meeting, and one that you will not want to miss!
In Barcelona, the Board also carried out regular business for our Society. Our focus was to consider how we could best continue to support the work of our colleagues to carry out high quality marine mammal research (especially that with a conservation focus) and how we could help our Society enhance its diversity, inclusiveness, and sense of community. An important outcome of this meeting was the development of a Diversity and Inclusion Statement, now posted to our website with our Mission and Objectives. We must, as a Society, live up to this statement, as our strength and ability to achieve our goals relies utterly upon our being as welcoming and inclusive a community as possible. To help us move forward with these efforts, I hope you all participated in our diversity and inclusion survey before the December 16th deadline.
I also wish to let you know that you will be asked to vote in early 2019 on two important topics. The first will be a re-definition of the Student Membership category to increase the length of time that a student is eligible for that status. The proposal will define a student as “any person who is actively enrolled in, or within one year of their graduation from, a degree-granting program at an institution of higher learning.” We hope that this change will make it easier for students, who represent the future of our Society, to maintain their active membership as they transition to their next life step. The second vote will be to bestow Honorary Membership to two of our colleagues, to recognize their exceptional contributions to marine mammal science. We look forward to bringing you these votes in early 2019.
In closing, as we look ahead to the new year, and all that it will bring, I also wish to take a moment and reflect upon those colleagues and friends whom we have lost this year. We all stand upon their shoulders, and thus, as a community, can see farther and contribute more.
My very best wishes to you all.
D. Ann Pabst
Hello Good Colleagues!