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Virginia Institute of Marine Science

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Ichthyology & Herpetology





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One of the most important functions of an academic society such as the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) is to host conferences for colleagues to directly share and debate ideas and data. Academic society meetings have a long history that grew from social meetings of the privileged in the 16th and 17th centuries during which scientific topics were discussed. Scientific meetings of any nature can provide a stimulating environment to discuss and argue points (Unglow, 2002), as alluded to by Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) in the epigraph, which was written with fond memory of the Lunar Society meetings while he was in political exile (Priestley, 1793). In 1812, a gathering of local scientists formally established The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP), a society “to occupy their leisure, in each other's company, on subjects of natural science” for “the advancement and diffusion of useful, liberal human knowledge.” The founders agreed that the ANSP would be “perpetually exclusive of political, religious and national partialities, antipathies, preventions and prejudices” to avoid potential conflicts with “the interests of science” (Stroud, 1997: 227). With the rise and specialization of academic societies, a concomitant specialization of scientific gatherings followed. Narrowly focused meetings have an important role in advancing the field specific to their topic, but regular (i.e., annual) discipline-wide conferences are important for both the tangible (e.g., presentation of fact) and intangible (e.g., inspiration of new avenues of study) effects they have on the attendees. Conferences also allow attendees the opportunity to conduct Society business through board and committee meetings. In 2021, the ASIH held its 100th in-person meeting, the third and final centennial to be celebrated by this Society (2013 was the 100th year of the Society's journal, Copeia, now Ichthyology & Herpetology, Smith and Mitchell, 2013; 2016 was the 100th year of the ASIH's founding, Hilton and Crump, 2016). This paper celebrates this milestone of the ASIH, and reflects upon the history of the ASIH conferences.


doi: 10.1643/t2021071

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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