Behavior Genetics Association
|Formation||June 1, 1971|
|Purpose||To promote the field of behavioral genetics|
The Behavior Genetics Association (BGA) is a learned society established in 1970 and which promotes research into the connections between heredity and behavior, both human and animal. Its members support education and training in behavior genetics; and aid in the dissemination of knowledge concerning genetics and behavior, and its implications, such as in health.
The association's goal is "to promote scientific study of the interrelationship of genetic mechanisms and behavior, both human and animal; to encourage and aid the education and training of research workers in the field of behavior genetics; and to aid in the dissemination and interpretation to the general public of knowledge concerning the interrelationship of genetics and behavior, and its implications for health and human development and education." To help attain these goals, the society organizes an annual meeting and publishes its official scientific journal entitled Behavior Genetics. The first 12 annual meetings were held in different places within the United States. In 1983, the association held its first annual meeting in Europe (London) and since then meetings have been held in Australia, Canada, France, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, as well as various US states.
The society has two classes of members: Regular Members, which are persons who teach or perform research related to behavioral genetics, and Associate Members, which are students in good standing at a recognized college or university. Members receive a complimentary subscription to the society's journal as well as discounted registration rates for the association's annual meetings.
The society's business are conducted by a board of directors, called the executive committee. The board consists of 9 members: president, president-elect, past-president, secretary, treasurer, an information officer, and three members-at-large (representing the general members, associate members, and members from outside North America). Members of the executive committee serve three-year terms. To ensure continuity, one member-at-large is elected every year.
Presidents serve three-year terms. Upon election, they become president-elect and they serve as chair of the program committee for that year. After one year they become president and in the third year of their term they serve as past-president. The association's first president was Theodosius Dobzhansky. Other notable presidents include Irving I. Gottesman (1976), John C. Loehlin (1980), Steven G. Vandenberg (1984), Sandra Scarr (1985), Robert Plomin (1989), Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. (1993), Glayde Whitney (1994), Nick Martin (1996–1997), and Dorret Boomsma (2008). Whitney's presidential address at the 1995 annual meeting in Richmond, Virginia, on the possible genetic roots of the relationship between race and crime, caused a controversy resulting in several resignations from the association's executive committee. The association subsequently declared that "the Association has no official spokesman and that the presidential address does not represent official policy of the association". In addition, it was stated that "members are not encouraged to express their personal political and moral views" in presentations given at the meeting, which should be strictly scientific.
The association gives several yearly awards for accomplishments in the field of behavioral genetics. The Dobzhansky Award, named after its first president, is given for lifetime accomplishments. The award committee consists of the past president and the two next most recent past presidents. The Fuller & Scott Award is an early career award for accomplishments by researchers that are within seven years of receiving their terminal degree. The award is named after former presidents John L. Fuller and John Paul Scott and the award committee is the same as for the Dobzhansky Award. The Thompson award, named after former president W. R. Thompson (1977), is given for an outstanding presentation during the annual meeting by an associate (student) member. Here, the awards committee consists of the past president together with the three members-at-large of the executive committee. In addition, the society gives the yearly Fulker Award for an outstanding paper published in Behavior Genetics. This award is named after former president David Fulker (1983), who also was a previous editor-in-chief of the journal. The awards committee consists of the journal's editorial advisory board.
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