A Letter From the Incoming President, Dave Schmitt

HBES is a scholarly community, for many of us it is our academic home away from home. And just like most communities around the world, ours has faced considerable challenges over the past two years. In this message, I want to express my gratitude to those who helped effectively maneuver HBES through unprecedented times, especially Leda Cosmides for her work as HBES president these last two years and Doug Kenrick for his service as past-president of HBES. Thank you also to Bernhard Fink for enhancing the HBES website and improving our capacity for online engagement. Thank you to Nicole Barbaro for her incredible efforts as HBES communications officer, Catherine Salmon for her longstanding contributions as HBES treasurer, and all members of the HBES Executive Committee. HBES has remained strong and resilient because of their efforts in growing our ability to be inclusive, welcoming, and digitally connected.

I also want to express my deep appreciation to the hosts of planned HBES conferences in Detroit and Palm Springs for their flexibility and hard work over the past two years—both conferences are now on schedule for 2022 and 2023, respectively. This was no easy task. Thank you to everyone who helped make our upcoming HBES Virtually Everywhere (#HBES2021) online conference a reality, especially the host committee (Coren Apicella, Chris von Rueden, Nicole Barbaro) and programme committee (Aaron Lukaszewski, Jaimie Krems, Anne Pisor, Cari Goetz). Coren pretty much dropped everything to make HBES Virtually Everywhere happen this summer, we all owe her significant thanks. And kudos to everyone who dedicated themselves to making our HBES Roundtable Seminar Series such a tremendous success this past year (videos of these events may be viewed on YouTube here.

Finally, I want to thank those HBES members who have committed their time and energy for crucially important work on the HBES Grievance Committee and in evaluating HBES grant proposals and award nominations. Jaimie Krems, chair of the HBES Grievance Committee, deserves special thanks for helping to make our community safer and more inclusive these past two years, and thank you to Nicole Barbaro for vigilantly monitoring, analyzing, and reporting on results from our HBES conference climate survey. A key focus of HBES has been on welcoming, developing, and highlighting early-career scholars from across the evolutionary behavioral sciences. HBES has supported graduate student and prospective graduate student luncheons, methods and statistics workshops, and meetings such as Women of HBES. This year at HBES Virtually Everywhere we have an LGBTQ+ mixer event hosted by Michael Barlev (thank you, Michael!).

HBES has honored and rewarded several categories of early-career scholarship at our annual conference, including awards for best conference posters, best post-doc papers/presentations, and new investigator awards. Since 2010, we have honored the best paper published in the HBES-affiliated journal Evolution and Human Behavior with the Margo Wilson Award. We have given HBES awards for Early Career Award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution (2020 Winner, Katherine McAuliffe) and the Lifetime Career Award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution (2020 Winner, David Perrett). Through several of our HBES grant funding mechanisms, we have reached out to support a diverse array of evolution-related undergraduate student meetings, regional academic conferences, and professional organizations around the world.

HBES is truly a worldwide scholarly collaboration, but our community is only as robust and vibrant as the individual HBES members who dedicate themselves to making it so. Thank you to all HBES members whose service to our community has made a difference these past two years and for setting the stage for future generations to make it better still.

Looking forward to the future of HBES, I’m drawn back to the inspiring comments by past-president Dick Alexander during his 2008 keynote address to HBES in Kyoto, Japan. He remarked that, “The most important and frightening of all human adaptations is likely our stubborn and perhaps unique manner of alternating our most intense emotional expressions between the two extremes of amity and enmity within our own species…We need every tool available to understand such things about ourselves. These are reasons why the Human Behavior and Evolution Society has the potential to become the most important scientific organization in the world.”

Every tool available. In my view, that phrase captures the greatest potential of our HBES community. Each year we bring together a wide variety of scholars and their tools from disciplines such as Darwinian literary studies and communications, Darwinian medicine and economics, Darwinian politics and philosophy, evolutionary anthropology and biology, evolutionary neuroscience and genetics, evolutionary psychology and human ethology, evolutionary sociology and family studies, human behavioral ecology and demography, and primatology and comparative psychology (among many, many others). HBES was founded in hopes that we continuously learn from each other, that every HBES conference provides an opportunity for new sparks of connection to be made across disciplines, and that these connections help us to more fully understand the best and the worst of human behavior.

Personally, I’ve found the best part of HBES often comes from attending sessions outside of my area of expertise. The first occasion I encountered the wonderful tool D-Place was at HBES whilst attending a presentation outside my discipline. The stimulating talks I heard and the questions and debates that transpired throughout that session greatly affected my thinking and scholarship for years to come. HBES can do that, should do that, for each of us every year. I’ve found interdisciplinarity and exploring an issue with “every tool available” is where the scholarly magic happens. Further cultivating that interdisciplinary ethos is something I very much look forward to as president of HBES in the next few years.

In these challenging times, our coming together in HBES has never been more important, to science and to our collaborative community. I look forward to seeing you and learning from you all at HBES Virtually Everywhere (#HBES2021). Stay safe.

–Dave Schmitt, President, HBES


Dave will take over duties as HBES President following the HBES 2021 conference, along with the rest of the new members of the Executive Council