Group photo of the 8th International symposium of the Biology of Vertebrate Sex Determination
Val Lance about the first VSD meeting in Hawaii:
The idea for a meeting on vertebrate sex determination arose out of a
disappointing experience I had attending a meeting in northern California that had
something about sex-determination in the title, but turned out to be how sex is
determined in nematodes and fruit flies, with one paper, if I remember correctly, on
human sex determination. Attending this meeting was not cheap and depleted my
travel budget for the year. I was not happy.
At the time I had been collaborating with Mark Bogart, then a geneticist at
UCSD, on temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) in alligator embryos.
Mark moved to Hawaii shortly after our failed attempts to understand TSD. It is still
unclear to me how we came up with the idea of holding such a meeting in Hawaii, but
the location did have many advantages – it was about halfway between Australia and
the USA where much of the research on sex determination took place, and it was an
attractive location that would attract many.
Our first meeting was held at the Honolulu Zoo where Mark Bogart had
influence – but not sure what his position was. Later we selected the King
Kamehameha Hotel in Kona on the big island of Hawaii. The King Kamehameha
turned out to be a good choice. It was much cheaper than hotels in Honolulu (which
helped graduate students) and the staff were very helpful, plus there was a
supermarket within walking distance where cheap food was available. That hotel has
been the site for the meeting ever since. Though I vaguely remember the meeting being
held at another hotel not far from the King Kamehameha where the sea was just outside
the meeting room and to my mind, distracted from the talks.