I write on the eve of an historic presidential election, one conducted in the malevolent twin shadows of pandemic and racism, and one that will influence the dynamics of science, higher education, and societal well-being for years to come. In the early 1960s, social upheaval and political activism brought about the 1964 Civil Rights Act—which codified the illegality of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religious affiliation, sex and sexual orientation, or national origin. Our university administration has reiterated its commitment, both ethically and legally, to non-discrimination in all things academic, and the Department of Integrative Biology has recently broadened its training and informational work in this regard. Similarly in the face of COVID-19, we have resumed our research and teaching activities, albeit with substantial logistical restrictions. The combined responses of our students, staff, and faculty to these unbelievably challenging times have been both productive and gratifying, as we strive to heal what clearly is an imperfect world around us. And although the department is not hiring new faculty members this year, our 13 hires over the last 5 years have bolstered our long-term goal of providing cutting-edge science in parallel with premier undergraduate and graduate education. Research in ecology, evolutionary biology, and organismal-level physiology and behavior at Berkeley continues to be of the highest caliber worldwide. Let us all constructively work to meet the current challenges, and continue to support our amazing portfolio of research, education, and scientific progress for the common good.
Professor and Chair