Letter from the Incoming President

July 25, 2022

Dear IZFS Members,

For the last year I have been serving as President Elect of the International Zebrafish Society, working with our President Lila Solnica-Krezel as she guided the Society through the complexities of moderating needs and wants of this wonderful group of scientists. As President Elect I headed the Awards Committee, interacted with the Sustainability group and participated in decisions of the Society, all in all an interesting learning experience given that no professional society has the same activity pattern. Now as President of the IZFS I look forward to the coming year as we work to define goals and enhance services to the zebrafish community.

The 2022 International Zebrafish Meeting in Montreal was notable not only because it was the first in-person meeting since the onset of the pandemic, but also it was the first International Zebrafish Meeting with both a Symposium and a Workshop dedicated to the theme of “Sustainability”. These activities were made possible by the Sustainability Committee headed by Corinne Houart, with the motivation, commitment, and organizational skills of Maximilian Breuer and Viviana Vedder laying the groundwork for this historic moment. I was fortunate to participate as session Chair and as a panelist in the Workshop, and the discussion that resulted reflected much interest particularly among younger research scientists as well as companies that design zebrafish systems.

As I contemplate the text for this message heat records are being broken around the world, Europe and parts of US are burning, and temperatures topped 40 C in London. Had winds not dropped, we might have witnessed an event reminiscent of the historic 1666 fire where the combination of a very hot summer, no rain for weeks and strong winds spread flames that destroyed much of London. These events coupled with my stated interests, as a candidate for IZFS President, only reinforce my commitment to strongly support initiatives that integrate sustainable concepts and practices into our scientific community.

In charting the course for the coming year, an essential job for the President, Board and our colleagues at EDI is to control costs. Planning for meetings that will be held in 2023-24 [the Strategic Conference of Zebrafish Investigators or SCZI, 2023, tentatively Malaysia; the European Zebrafish meeting, 2023, Poland; Principal Investigator Meeting, 2024, Asilomar, USA; International Zebrafish Meeting, 2024, Japan] is underway. The challenge will be to maintain the level of support necessary for successful events against a backdrop of rapidly rising costs and a potential worldwide recession.

We live in an era filled with challenges, many of which are known to humanity: war, economic crisis, and pandemics. But we have the added challenge of climate change, a problem of monstrous complexity with frightening consequences for life as we know it. In my opinion this is a unique moment in time: the IZFS is now headed by three women representing a rich combination of professional and cultural backgrounds (myself, USA and Chile; Corinne Houart, President-Elect, Belgium and UK; Lila Solnica-Krezel, Past-President: Poland and USA).  As President I look forward to working with Corinne, Lila, and the Board, to move the IZFS in new directions while maintaining a strong financial base.

In order to see a fish you must watch the water.

Best wishes and keep well.

Kathleen Whitlock

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