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Presidential Message: Students and the ISB

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  • Presidential Message: Students and the ISB

    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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