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.


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