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From the President’s Desk
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I begin by welcoming our many new International Zebrafish Society (IZFS) members and thanking those continuing their membership and their support of IZFS.  We are now officially over two years old, and growing fast!  If you haven’t done so already JOIN NOW, and encourage your colleagues and trainees to join as well.

A society supporting the global zebrafish community.  IZFS was founded to support the international zebrafish research community and zebrafish researchers worldwide.  This includes supporting conferences (including the International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics and the Strategic Conference of Zebrafish Investigators), promoting cohesion and cooperation throughout the worldwide fish community, providing strong advocacy for the zebrafish model and coordinating efforts to overcome regulatory and administrative barriers, educating the public on research using zebrafish, promoting zebrafish investigators for awards/prizes and administering awards, and liaisoning with other scientific societies. IZFS is the successor to the “Society for Zebrafish Research” (SZR), an unincorporated entity that existed mainly to provide a legal framework for funding and grant support for the International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics and other zebrafish meetings.  Although SZR was useful for maintaining conference funds on behalf of the zebrafish community, it did not provide any actual logistical or practical support for these conferences, or for any other zebrafish community activities.  Management of zebrafish conferences was largely carried out on an ad-hoc basis, in recent years often in conjunction with outside organizations.  In response to both the need for stronger zebrafish community-managed conference support and the desire for a more robust and active organization supporting international zebrafish research, leaders in the zebrafish field began efforts to form a new society in 2014. IZFS was incorporated in January 2015 with an interim set of officers and board members.

A new management team for the IZFS.  In July 2016, IZFS engaged a professional management group, Association Resources, to augment the efforts of its officers, board, and volunteers.  The selection of Association Resources came after a months-long exhaustive search, vetting, and interview process.  Sixteen different companies and organizations responded to an initial request for proposals (RFP) by submitting their materials and their vision for management of IZFS to a search subcommittee composed of members of the IZFS board.  Association Resources’ impressive background and experience helped them to “float to the top of the pile” of proposals, and they were eventually selected by the subcommittee and then by the full IZFS board to help manage our society.  An executive officer (Marty Rotblatt), administrative officer (Monika Dezhbod), meeting planner (Marcy Green), and finance manager (Maria Preiser) were assigned by Association Resources to work directly with IZFS.  Information on these key members of our new IZFS management team is provided below.

Since bringing professional management staff on board in July 2016, the IZFS has had an extremely eventful several months, especially with regards to conference management.

2017 Strategic Conference of Zebrafish Investigators. Even before the management transition was completed, our new management staff members had already begun work on the 7th Strategic Conference of Zebrafish Investigators (SCZI) together with the organizers of this meeting.  With the help of our new meetings planner Marcy Green and administrative officer Monika Dezhbod, the 7th SCZI meeting was held January 14-18, 2017, on the scenic Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California (the site of all previous SCZI meetings except for the first, held on Mount Desert Island in Maine in the summer of 2005).  Additional details on the 2017 SCZI meeting can be found here, but by all measures the meeting was highly successful with 204 participants, the largest number yet.  The SCZI meeting continues to be the premiere venue for zebrafish primary investigators to hear about the latest technical advances for working with fish and obtain up-to-date information on research developments in their field as well as other fields utilizing the zebrafish as a model.

2018 International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics.  With the 2017 Strategic Conference of Zebrafish Investigators successfully concluded, the IZFS officers, board, and management team have turned to helping the organizers of the 2018 International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics (ICZDG) to make this meeting an equally resounding success.  After a brief detour to Orlando in 2016 as part of the combined model organism conference under the auspices of the GSA, the ICZDG is coming back on June 20-24, 2018 to its long-time home in Madison, Wisconsin as an exciting “all zebrafish, all the time” meeting.  The meeting is being held in the newly (and beautifully) renovated Memorial Union on the shores of Lake Mendota, and it will include a lakeside barbecue picnic and a final banquet after which the fish will invade and take over the Wisconsin “Badger Den” (“Sett”) nightclub for an after-party with a live band sure to include lots of dancing.  Additional details on the 2018 meeting, including organizers, keynote speakers, preliminary session topics, and other information can be found on the conference web page. 

IZFS is proud to be managing both of these outstanding conferences for the international zebrafish community!

Election.  IZFS held first election for officers and board members. Nominations are now closed, but a large number of suggestions for potential candidates were submitted by our membership, from which the IZFS nominations committee (Sharon Amacher, Peter Currie, Stephan Neuhauss) formulated a slate for the election.  Candidates for President and President-Elect (myself and Mary Mullins) are running unopposed in this election, since no additional candidates stepped forward, but there are several candidates each for Treasurer and for board members from the Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America.  Information on all of the candidates can be found in this newsletter and on the IZFS website.

As a reminder, IZFS bylaws stipulate yearly elections for officers and board members.  Board members serve a three-year term with approximately one-third of the board stepping down and new board members being elected to fill their place each year.  The Treasurer also serves a three-year term.  A new President-Elect is elected each year, and this individual serves one year as President-Elect, then one year as President, then one year as Past-President, for a total of three years of service.  Since this is our first regular election, just for this first cycle we are holding a vote for both President-Elect and President.  I have already served several years as an initial “caretaker” President so if I am elected by the membership I will only serve two additional years as an officer.

This seems like an opportune moment to thank our current Treasurer Mary Halloran, who will be stepped down from this post after the election.  Mary was one of the key individuals who helped to found IZFS, ensuring that it was created with the proper legal, financial, and administrative structure. She has put much time and effort into helping managing our finances.  For many years before this Mary was also Treasurer of the Society for Zebrafish Research, the predecessor to IZFS, and she was also the PI of an NIH grant supporting the International Conference Zebrafish Development and Genetics. Mary clearly has a very long track record of exemplary service to the zebrafish community (all while maintaining a top-notch research program!).  I am personally very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her in the IZFS.  Her wisdom and insight will be greatly missed in the IZFS leadership. We do hope that she will continue to remain actively involved with the society and its initiatives.

Get involved!  This also seems like an opportune moment to point out that this is YOUR society, and we hope that all of you will become actively involved in its activities.  We need volunteers to serve as officers and board members. There are also many additional ways for zebrafish researchers at all career levels (including graduate students and postdocs!) to become involved with IZFS.   Become an associate editor on the IZFS editorial board.  Join the IZFS website committee and become an IZFS webmaster.  Volunteer for the IZFS awards or nominations committees and help select IZFS awardees or prepare slates of nominees for officer and board member positions.  Help with the IZFS’ public education and outreach activities.  Numerous opportunities are available for you to help IZFS serve the fish community, and I encourage you to get involved!


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