View Full Version : Presidential Message: Students and the ISB

Peter Cavanagh
06-22-1997, 02:53 PM
ISB Presidential Message June 1997

Investing in the Future - Bringing Students into the ISB

This is the last Presidential message that I shall write before
turning over the gavel to the able hands of Professor Guenter Rau from
Germany at the ISB Congress in Japan. I cannot let the opportunity pass
without thanking the many ISB members who have taken time to respond to the
messages that I have written over the last 2 years and to the membership as
a whole who gave me the opportunity to serve in this role. It has been a
pleasure and a privilege to have been your President.

In this last message, I want to turn the spotlight onto the most
significant resource that the Society has - and that is those individuals
who are currently students of biomechanics at universities throughout the
world. It is, of course, cliché to say that the students of today are the
leaders of tomorrow - but it is nevertheless accurate and, therefore, it is
extremely important to the future of the ISB to ensure that the Society is
serving the needs of today's students.

The following list outlines what the Society presently does for
students members:

* Membership rates of only $US 19 per year. (This is a 55% discount
on regular rates).
* A discount of $US 14 on the Journal of Applied Biomechanics
* Reduced registration fees at ISB Congresses and the meetings of
affiliated societies.
* Tutorials are offered before each ISB Congress which are primarily
aimed at students. From 1997 onwards, the notes from the tutorials will be
on the ISB Web page for permanent reference. The cost for the tutorials is
$25 per session.
* The ISB Web site and the Newsletter post job opportunities at all
levels (post-doc through senior faculty positions).
* The data and software source pages of the Web site are valuable
resources for students.
* Student résumés can be posted on the Web page.
* The working and technical groups provide in-depth information in
areas of particular focus.
* The Biomechanics Bargain Barn offers a place to find low cost
equipment to start a lab or move in a new research direction.
* The Society offers two young investigator awards (one each for
Podium and Poster presentations) at each ISB Congress.
* There is a fledgling "Student BIOMCH-L" where questions that might
be thought of as inappropriate for BIOMCH-L can be posted, but there are
few subscribers at present.

Despite the above services, the current total number of "paid-up"
student members in the Society is only 109. By any criterion, this is a
remarkably small number when one considers the many biomechanics programs
around the world. This leads to the inevitable conclusion that we are not
offering enough services which make ISB membership attractive to student
members. The purpose of this message is to offer some ideas of my own to
increase student membership, but most of all to solicit input, particularly
from present and recently graduated students themselves.

I should now list what we are not doing. By implication, this
suggests some directions which should be considered:

* The constitution does not provide for student or post-doctoral
representation on the ISB Council.
* There is no formal student association and no elected student
leadership within the ISB. Perhaps individuals elected as doctoral
students could continue to serve a 2 year term even if they graduate.
* The ISB does not offer recommendations for course content or textbooks.
* The ISB does not provide a summary of biomechanics graduate programs.
* There are no travel grants for student members .
* There are not enough awards for quality student presentations.
* There are no sessions exclusively devoted to student presentations
at the ISB Congress (although not all students would like this
* There is no regular student section and there are only occasional
student contributions in the Newsletter.
* There is no formal "Electronic Mentoring" system in place (although
BIOMCH-L certainly serves this purpose).
* We do not have a formal recruitment drive among our members where
we encourage each advisor to enroll his or her advisees as student member
of the Society.
* There is no formal network of opportunities for international
research experiences for students and post-docs. This could be an
excellent place to look for summer internships.
* We do not have "Meet the Professor" sections at our Congresses as
some other organizations do.

Obviously, one of the problems with an international society is
that attending society meetings is usually beyond the budget of most
students except when the meeting happens to be on the doorstep. The
contrariant might suggest that we cannot expect students to join a society
whose meeting's they can rarely attend. Perhaps the national biomechanics
organizations are better placed to enhance the quality of a student's
professional life. Perhaps is it is the duty of Council and senior members
to provide as many services as possible for students even though they might
not join the Society until they graduate. I disagree with this point of
view and believe that for $US 18 per year, a student will find that the
feeling of belonging to an international professional organization that is
working in their best interests is much preferable to simply taking the
benefits and being on the outside. And, of course, "electronic traveling"
is cost free and there are many things we are doing on our Web site (and
more we could be doing could!) to enhance learning and to make students
feel an integral part of the international biomechanics community as early
as possible in their careers.

I would very much appreciate your suggestions on the above ideas
and on other ways in which we can increase the usefulness of the ISB to
students. We have a large network of members in many parts of the world
and this has to be an attractive asset which can be used for the benefit of
students. Surely we can double the number of student members over the next
two years and provide the Society with a firm foundation for future growth.
I can certainly promise to devote some of my efforts as immediate
past-President towards such an initiative but your guidance and support
will make the growth more likely to happen. Input from students and recent
graduates would be most appreciated!


Peter R. Cavanagh
International Society of Biomechanics

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