Geological Society of America 2019 Annual Meeting

Mon, 10/21/2019 - 8:40am -- maphillips

Contributed by Jennifer Bauer, Samantha Ocon, Jeanette Pirlo, and Molly Phillips

The 2019 Geological Society of America Meeting was held in Phoenix, Arizona, September 20-25, 2019. iDigBio participated in the nightly exhibitor hall showcase where we were able to interact with GSA attendees. Attendees approached the booth inquiring about the different applications of iDigBio and we spoke with a range of professionals, some interested in sharing data and others interested in utilizing educational products hosted through iDigBio. K-12 attendees were present and they enjoyed the 3D printed biological specimens we had at the table.  The 3D loggerhead turtle puzzle was a fun manipulative, and we had a great time working with participants putting the puzzle back together. Materials at the booth also included scale cards and bookmarks from the FOSSIL Project, funding for this project recently concluded but the website ( and mobile app (myFOSSIL) will continue to be maintained into the future.

Young mind works with Jeanette Pirlo to put the turtle skull back together again.

Pirlo and Phillips presented on the recently funded iDigBio summer internships to broaden participation in the biological sciences. This talk was given during the “Broadening Participation in Paleontology” session.  The talk was well-received and we look forward to working with the future collaborating institutions. Bauer gave a summary talk (abstract) on how the FOSSIL Project increased representation in paleontology over the past six years and was in the same session. One of the last efforts of the project is to provide a mechanism for high quality specimen data on myFOSSIL to be made publicly available through iDigBio. This is still a work in progress but stay tuned!

Bauer also gave a talk on the paleobiogeography of an extinct echinoderm clade (abstract), data sourced for the geographic areas was culled from iDigBio and the Paleobiology Database. This was presented in a session she was co-chairing called ‘Paleobiogeographical and Paleoecological Trends in the Fossil Record’, which was a full day session on Monday  (part 1, part 2) with an associated poster session on Tuesday (posters). The session was well attended with an excellent mix of talks across time periods and taxonomic groups.

Bruce MacFadden of the Florida Museum of Natural History is the current President of the Paleontological Society and he provided much of the remarks during the evenings events.

We attended the Paleontological Society Business Meeting, which is hosted the Sunday of every annual GSA meeting. This is a time where the society gathers to discuss recent events, shares new elected officers, and announces awardees. It is a great time to catch up with old and new friends and hear about what the society plans to do moving forward. Ocon & Bauer have joined the Paleo Society board this year as part of the social media team.

Sam Ocon presenting her talk on Best Practices for Instagram as a Geoscience Education Tool.

Ocon presented her first poster and her first talk at a national conference. The poster was about assessing trends in arthropod survivorship using data aggregators (abstract). She used large groups of fossil data sourced from iDigBio and another database called the Paleobiology Database to look for inconsistencies within the databases by comparing them with the known fossil record. The talk (abstract) discussed best practices for geoscience education using Instagram. As our world becomes increasingly digital, science communicators must learn to use social media to disseminate information. This talk sought to clarify the techniques that garnered the most interaction in a case study of the FOSSIL Project Instagram.

Sam Ocon with her research poster on Assessing Paleozoic Arthropod Survivorship through Data Aggregators (Paleobiology Database & iDigBio).