PSO Newsletter November 2013




AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PHOTOBIOLOGY (ASP)


When founded in 1972, with Kendric C. Smith as its Founder and first President, ASP had 13 subdivisions: Bioluminescence, Environmental Photobiology, Non-Visual Photoreception, Photochemistry, Photomedicine, Photomorphogenesis, Photomovement, Photophysics, Photosensitization, Photosynthesis, Spectroscopy, UV Radiation Photobiology, and Vision. My vision was to bring all areas of photobiology under one roof so that every photobiologist felt at home, and they could share their wisdom with other photobiologists.

There were Councilors for each of these divisions, so that all divisions were represented. Yes, it was a chore to find people to run for these offices, but the effort was worth it for the good of the Society.

For a number of years, ASP was a happy family of people devoted to the study of the multiple areas of photobiology. We socialized together, and talked to the people in the different specialties. The membership kept climbing.

An event at the first meeting in 1973 exemplified what I was trying to accomplish with the formation of ASP. People meet new people in the different subdivisions of photobiology, and shared their knowledge. One day some photodermatologists were sitting in the hotel lobby talking to some photochemists, whom they had never met before. One of the photodermatologists said, "we have a research problem that we don't know how to solve". The photochemists said, "we know how to solve that problem". Collaborations were started that greatly enhanced the field of photodermatology. This is exactly what I wanted to accomplish by starting the ASP.

Unfortunately, in a few years, bad things happened to ASP.

Subsequent Presidents decided to simplify things, and grouped the 13 divisions into 5 divisions: (1) Photochemistry, Photophysics and Phototechnology, (2) Photosensory and Circadian Biology, (3) Photosynthesis, Bio- and Chemiluminescece, (4) Photomedicine, (5) Environmental Photobiology and UV Effects.

Not a good idea! For example, in Section (3), Photosynthesis and Bio- and Chemiluminescece have little in common. One harvests photons (photosynthesis), and one gives off photons. A Councilor for Section 3 would probably have little knowledge of both subjects. As a consequence of the new divisions, ASP lost membership in the unmentioned specialties.

Councilors are now elected by selecting whomever will serve, with no thought about their photobiological specialty. ASP is now primarily a photomedicine society.

However, things may be changing. ASP (2013) has a new "flower" that tries to bring the different areas of photobiology together. The seven new divisions are: Photosensory Biology, Public Health, Phototechnology, Molecular and Cellular, Photomedicine, Environmental and Photochemistry/Photophysics. Each of these Divisions has seven subdivisions.

Maybe there is yet hope for a rebirth of ASP, and it original goals.

The "flower" with its subdivisions is shown below.

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