American Society of Naturalists

A membership society whose goal is to advance and to diffuse knowledge of organic evolution and other broad biological principles so as to enhance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences.

Results of the 2020 Election

Posted on by ASN

Judith Bronstein, President 2022 (serving 2021-2025)

Election Statement

The ASN represents everything I love most in science. From the first time I opened Am Nat as a college junior and realized how an ecologist could spend her life, to the ASN stand-alone meetings that have energized and reinvigorated my research, to the final paper I handled as Am Nat Editor in Chief, the ASN has occupied the center of my career. My research focuses on the ecology and evolution of interspecific interactions, particularly on mutualisms. My career-long goal has been to build a solid conceptual foundation for the study of these poorly understood interactions. Using a combination of field observations, experiments, and theory, my lab examines how population processes, abiotic conditions, and the community context determine net effects of interactions for each participant species.

I received my BA from Brown University, and my MSc and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan. I currently hold the rank of University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, with a joint appointment in the Department of Entomology. I’ve received several other university honors, including a Distinguished Career Teaching Award, as well as a Distinguished Service Award from the National Science Foundation. I was elected Fellow of the Ecological Society of America in 2016. I’ve served as an NSF Program Officer and in leadership positions for the Ecological Society of America and the Smithsonian Institution, but my most relevant service has been to the ASN. I served as Secretary in 2004-2006. I joined the American Naturalist Editorial Board in 2004, became one of the three Editors in 2010, and then served as the (first and only female) Editor in Chief from 2013 to 2017. I’m particularly proud of the efforts we made to diversify the Editorial Board during this period. I initiated the popular “Countdown” series that highlights significant but overlooked Am Nat papers of the past. Melding my interests in diversity and Am Nat’s own history, I was lead author on a 2018 paper highlighting the biographies and contributions of its earliest women authors.

The landscape of science, scientific societies, publishing, and the world itself are all changing rapidly. ASN can and must continue to show the intellectual leadership it’s been demonstrating so effectively in recent years, while remaining the model egalitarian and diverse organization that it’s recently become. Further, we will be experiencing some critical personnel transitions in the next few years, notably in both the Managing Editor and Editor in Chief positions at Am Nat. I think it’s fair to say that I know ASN and our flagship journal inside and out. I believe that I can gently spearhead pragmatic responses to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Deepa Agashe, Vice President 2022 (serving 2021-2023)

Election Statement

I want to know how organisms adapt to new environments, and how adaptive processes influence molecular evolution. Current themes in my lab include understanding: (1) dietary niche shifts in insect pests, (2) the evolution of the bacterial translation machinery, (3) the evolutionary consequences of new mutations, and (4) the evolution of host-bacterial associations.

I completed my Bachelors in Microbiology at Abasaheb Garware College Pune, India (2003); and my PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour at the University of Texas at Austin (2009). After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, I started my independent group in Bangalore in 2012. I recently received a Women Excellence Award (for female scientists under 40) from the President of India and have successfully competed for several national and international research grants and fellowships.

I count my efforts to increase the visibility of evolutionary biology in India as my most important service. I have organized several meetings and student workshops (e.g. the long-running ICTS Schools on Population Genetics and Evolution), and participated in various outreach efforts (e.g. public Science Café talks, radio and television programs, and talks at smaller colleges and Universities in the country). I also serve as associate editor of Molecular Biology and Evolution (since 2015) and Evolution (since 2020); on the diversity committee of the ASN (since 2018); and the international committee of the SSE (since 2018).

The ASN and the American Naturalist are quite special for me: my first paper was published in the American Naturalist, and experiencing peer review at its best (thanks to AE George Gilchrist) shaped how I approach my current roles as reviewer and editor. I also won the Editor’s award for best student paper, and the book grant from ASN let me buy truly beautiful books that I could not otherwise afford. Since then, I have continued to enjoy the high quality of science that is discussed at ASN meetings and published in the American Naturalist.

I hope to connect the ASN to the Indian community and increase the breadth and reach of the ASN. This link would be mutually beneficial, given the incredible biodiversity in my part of the world but the relatively small local community of evolutionary biologists and ecologists. For the VP symposium, I would like to consider two areas: how to bridge across micro and macro-evolution, and the early evolution and establishment of host-microbiome interactions.