SDSU Professor Charles Fenster is named president of AIBS |

SDSU Professor Charles Fenster is named president of AIBS

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Jan. 1 marks not only first day of the new year, but also the first time a South Dakota State University faculty member has become the president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).

Professor Charles B. Fenster of the Department of Biology and Microbiology in the College of Natural Sciences will assume his duties as AIBS president on Jan. 1, 2019. He is also a researcher and interim assistant director for the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station (AES).

Fenster has served on the AIBS board of directors since 2011, most recently as treasurer. The evolutionary biologist has led various committees and was Executive Vice President of the Society for the Study of Evolution, an AIBS member organization. He is also a member of the Botanical Society of America, the Ecological Society of America and the American Society for Naturalists.

Volker Brozel, head of the biology and microbiology department, said, “We are thrilled that Dr. Fenster was elected to lead this impactful organization, and proud of the service and leadership that he is providing to both university researchers and scientists and industry stakeholders.”

South Dakota AES interim director Bill Gibbons said, “He brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective that will help bring the challenges facing prairie ecosystems that will help increase agricultural sustainability.”

AIBS was founded in 1947 as part of the National Academy of Science and became an independent member-governed organization in the 1950s. The organization has more than 100 member organizations.

As president, Fenster will work with the board of directors, staff members and membership to promote the interests of the biological sciences community. “AIBS facilitates the work of its membership, which includes many other academic societies. The organization helps these societies meet very broad objectives, including securing funding from Congress,” he explained.

Because the organization represents 150,000 to 200,000 scientists nationwide, Fenster said, “any effort that is successful reverberates for many other scientists and graduate students.”

“Science is increasingly more global in its perspective and questions and problems are not restricted by international boundaries,” he said. “AIBS helps articulate the questions and disseminate the answers to those questions.”

For instance, AIBS played an important background role in the effort to digitize biological collection specimens, Fenster noted. “The organization helped get the initiative going in response to a need both by the National Science Foundation and the scientific community.”

Based on his experiences at SDSU, Fenster hopes to “bring attention to particular issues and challenges that face the Northern Great Plains, in particular, those related to food security, human health and maintenance of biological diversity.”

Furthermore, he seeks to expand membership to additional fields of study, including those in the biomedical field. “Through collaboration, we can better serve the biological community and the public.”

–SDSU College of Agriculture