Citizen Scientist attends 11th North American Paleontological Convention

by Cindy Lockner (@cindy-lockner)

Wonder what it’s like to be around hundreds of paleontologists from all over the world? I had the pleasure of finding out by attending the 11th North American Paleontological Convention in Riverside, CA.  I am so thankful that I was asked by FOSSIL to represent a citizen scientist’s point of view in amateur-professional interactions in advancing paleontological knowledge, and experiences in working with the FOSSIL community.

This event was incredible. The welcome session was inspiring, and the symposiums were very informative. As you may know, I love dinosaurs, so I really enjoyed the symposium titled The Evolutionary Transition from Non-Avian Dinosaurs to Birds.  It was exciting to see information and research on this subject matter, and yet there is so much more to discover – how exciting for future scientists.

Determining the ancestral integumentary state in Dinosauria by T Holtz. Image taken by Cindy Lockner.

Spinal nerves, the immune system and evolution of the avian tail by Dana Rashid. Image taken by Cindy Lockner.

Illuminating the Evolution of Birds Using Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence Imaging by M Pittman. Image taken by Cindy Lockner.

An all female Mariachi band at dinner – they were awesome! Image taken by Cindy Lockner.

What really impressed me was that I felt welcomed by every professional that I met, and I was very pleased to see so many female professionals. The speakers, paleontologists I met at lunch and dinner, and of course members from the FOSSIL community; all willing to share their knowledge and experiences with me. This event was definitely educational, but it was also more than that. It was about fostering relationships and inclusiveness. Isn’t that when we are at our greatest – when we work together and share information for a common cause? To paraphrase an African proverb by one of the opening speakers, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others”.

FOSSIL has helped to build collaboration and camaraderie between the professional and amateur communities, sharing research and helping to educate and participate at outreach events, resulting in a synergy that will help paleontology grow well into to the future.

A special “thank you” to Dr. Bruce MacFadden, Jeanette Pirlo, Sadie Mills, Eleanor Gardner, Jennifer Bauer, and FOSSIL for the opportunity to be a part of this event.

Cindy presenting her talk during the FOSSIL Symposium. Image taken by Sadie Mills.

Cindy discussing the aspects of being a citizen scientist in the world of paleontology. Image taken by Sadie Mills.

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