FOSSIL Project Updates Spring 2017

by Eleanor E. Gardner

Personnel Updates

Linda McCall
Linda McCall

We are pleased to announce that Linda McCall, president of the North Carolina Fossil Club, has joined the FOSSIL Project’s Steering Committee. She will serve on the committee through December 2017 and help to keep amateur interests represented as the FOSSIL Project enters its final 1.5 years of funding. After her term is up, Linda will aid us in identifying another representative to serve on the committee. Linda has already provided many excellent ideas and feedback, and we appreciate her continued commitment to the Project and the myFOSSIL community.

News from the Paleontological Society

As a member of the Paleontological Society Executive Committee, Bruce can report that we now have more than 50 members who have opted for the new amateur member category. The PS is very excited about this response so far, and we look forward to a continuing increase in representation from amateurs. We hope that the benefits of the PS will make membership attractive and also result in a continued positive and supportive spirit of working together to advance the study of fossils and paleontology.

Every year the PS receives nominations for the Strimple Award given to an amateur who has made sustained contributions to paleontology. The winner for 2017 will be announced soon.

Visit to Mace Brown Museum in Charleston SC

In February, Bruce had the opportunity to visit with Bobby and Sarah Boessenecker at the Mace Brown Museum, which is part of the geology department of the College of Charleston. He toured the exhibits and got a behind-the-scenes look at the collections. Although too short, it was a great visit and Sarah and Bobby are doing terrific things to advance the museum and collections.

Bruce MacFadden with Sarah and Bobby Boessenecker
Bruce MacFadden with Sarah and Bobby Boessenecker

FOSSIL Theme Session at the 2017 Northeast/North-Central GSA Joint Section Meeting

On March 19, the FOSSIL Project hosted a very successful theme session at the 2017 Northeast/North-Central Geological Society of America joint section regional meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. We had a full day session featuring 16 talks and 3 poster presentations (10 of which were talks by amateur/avocational paleontologists!). To read respective abstracts, click through each title on the webpages below:

Several talks throughout the day, including Lee Cone’s on the relationships between amateur, professional, and commercial paleontologists, drew large crowds. New friendships and partnerships were established thanks to this meeting, and we look forward to further collaboration with groups such as the Bighorn Basin Paleontological Institute and the Minnesota-based Hill Annex Paleontology Project.


 Northeast/North-Central GSA Joint Section Meeting
Northeast/North-Central GSA Joint Section Meeting

Prior to the meeting, the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society and FossilGuy (Jayson Kowinsky) led the group on a great field trip. In the morning, we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History with curator Dr. Matt Lamanna. Dr. Lamanna gave us a detailed look at the vertebrate prep lab, explained the fascinating historical significance of ‘Dippy’ the Diplodocus, and showed us the extensive vertebrate collections rooms (aptly called the “Big Bone Room” for dinosaur material and the “Little Bone Room” for mammal material). In the afternoon, we traveled to a road cut near Ambridge, PA, where there is an outcrop of the Pennsylvanian aged Glenshaw Formation. Despite the muddy conditions and occasional rain or sleet, we collected many carbonized plant specimens, such as Calamites stems and Pecopteris fern leaves. A great time was had by all!

Field trip to Ambridge, PA
Field trip to Ambridge, PA
pitt field site 2 pitt field site 3

FOSSIL Represented at 2017 Southeast GSA Meeting in Richmond, VA

Eleanor Gardner attended the SEGSA meeting in Richmond, VA, where she presented a poster entitled “Improving engagement of minority K-12 students in paleontological outreach and education initiatives: a case study from Florida.” Her coauthors on this poster were Cindy Lockner, Bonnie Cronin, and Russell Brown of the Florida Fossil Hunters club in Orlando. The poster, which presented the history of and improvements to the FFH annual Women in Paleontology Day, was very well received. Several council members of the Paleontological Society communicated their desire to see more projects like it in the future.

Read the poster abstract here:

FOSSIL Webinar Series

The FOSSIL Project’s second webinar series, promoting the theme of “Women in Paleontology,” has garnered a lot of interest and reached new audiences. For those who haven’t yet heard of our webinar series, it is free, open to anyone interested in fossils and paleontology, and co-sponsored by the Paleontological Society as well as the iDigBio project at the University of Florida. Participants do not need to be registered as a myFOSSIL community member, although additional benefits accrue to our members (see below).

Screen shot of Brenda Hunda's webinar
Screen shot of Brenda Hunda’s webinar

On January 25th, California-based museum researcher and educator Tara Lepore presented “Women in Paleontology: Tara’s Take.” On February 22nd, Brenda Hunda, who is the curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Cincinnati Museum Center, presented “My Life as a Curator.” On March 29th, Florida-based amateur paleontologist Cindy Lockner presented “Fossil Volunteering.” For reviews of the webinars, please see Joyce Drakeford’s article in this newsletter. Each hour-long webinar was delivered via the AdobeConnect online platform that provides a venue for presentations and real-time chats and Q&As. We are looking forward to the final webinar in this series, which promises to be excellent! Join us at on April 26th from 7-8pm Eastern to learn from Lisa White, a micropaleontologist and the Director of Education at the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

The FOSSIL Project will be providing a Certificate of Completion for those members of the myFOSSIL community who attend (or watch recordings of) all four webinars in the series. Contact Eleanor at [email protected] for more information. To watch recordings, just navigate to the Resources section of the myFOSSIL website at:

Given the success of our first two webinar series, we have decided to move forward with an idea for a third series to take place Fall 2017. This series will be focused on fossil identification, and we hope to present it in a PBS “Antiques Roadshow” style format. We hope to travel to different locations around the nation and film on-site. We are really excited to begin planning for this webinar series and we welcome your input! To contribute ideas and add to the conversation, please visit the webinar forum on our website—in the Upcoming Opportunities forum:

FOSSIL Participants Making a Big Impact at Montbrook Dig

The Florida Museum of Natural History has been lucky to get lots of volunteer help over the past year in excavating Miocene-aged fossils from the Montbrook fossil site near Williston, FL. Amateur paleontologists associated with the FOSSIL Project, such as Cindy Lockner (Florida Fossil Hunters), Lee Cone (Special Friends of the Aurora Fossil Museum), and Bonnie Cronin & Russell Brown (Florida Fossil Hunters), have worked hard at the site. Teachers associated with myFOSSIL have also played an important role: Tynessa Morgan-Craft (Dallas Paleo Society / Dallas Independent School District), Matthew Croxton (Southwest Florida Christian Academy), and others participated in a blitz-style excavation event in June 2016. In April 2017, the museum is excited to welcome another set of teachers to the site, including myFOSSIL member Dave Ellingson (Woodburn High School in OR).

Cindy Lockner
Cindy Lockner

Tynessa Morgan-Craft
Tynessa Morgan-Craft

myFOSSIL Website Upgrades

Sample STL file
Sample STL file

Soon, we should have the ability to upload, view, and manipulate 3D fossil images on! Our web development partners, Atmosphere Apps, have been working hard to make STL file viewing an integral aspect of our website. Check back to soon to see it in action!

Recent & Upcoming Events

In February, FOSSIL graduate student Victor Perez gave a talk at monthly meeting of the Gainesville Gem & Mineral Society. The society members were excited to learn about the myFOSSIL website and the volunteer opportunities available at the Montbrook fossil site. If you’d like someone from the FOSSIL team to come speak at your club/society meeting, please contact the Project Coordinator, Eleanor Gardner, at [email protected].

Also in February, Victor helped to organize and facilitate a FLMNH paleontology-themed “pop up” museum event at the Depot Park near downtown Gainesville, FL. Members of the Florida Paleontological Society were also present and helped to make the event a big success. Victor is continuing to work closely with the Public Programs unit of FLMNH in planning future paleontology-themed “pop up” events. If you are interested in learning about “pop up” events, please contact Victor at [email protected].

On March 18, FOSSIL team members Jeanette Pirlo and Michelle Barboza participated in the annual FLMNH “Can You Dig It” celebration of geology and paleontology. Jeanette, in particular, was instrumental in developing a new fossil screen-wash children’s activity, as well as gathering thousands of fossils for the children’s dig boxes. The event was a huge success, with over 2400 visitors! To learn more about Jeanette’s role as a K-12 paleo content specialist on the FOSSIL Project or to discover ways to incorporate fossils into teaching lesson plans, please contact [email protected].

Can You Dig It event
Can You Dig It event
can u dig it1

Coming up on May 6th is the fourth annual Women in Paleontology Day at the Orlando Science Center. Don’t miss this great event! Orchestrated by the Florida Fossil Hunters (FFH) club, this event promotes women and their contributions to the field of paleontology. This year, a diverse group of speakers – including Michelle Barboza (FOSSIL), Celina Suarez (Univ of Arkansas), Ta-Shana Taylor (Univ of Miami), Laura Cotton (FLMNH), and Rachel Narducci (FLMNH) – will inspire a new generation of girls and young women to pursue their interests in science. Thanks to help from an Education & Outreach grant from the Paleontological Society, the FFH are able to offer free admission to less privileged students. This year’s WiP Day promises to be terrific – please join us!

Along with co-chairs Laura Soul (Smithsonian post-doctoral researcher) and Terry Gates (North Carolina State Univ/NC Museum of Natural Sciences research scientist), Eleanor Gardner (FOSSIL Project Coordinator) is proud to announce that we are convening a technical session ‘T64 Citizen Science in paleontology: harnessing public interest to advance research and STEM education’ at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, October 22-25, 2017.

GSA2017-logo250Successes and lessons learned in paleontology citizen science will be the backbone of this session. We will include academic paleontologists, educators, and non-academic speakers to: (1) present examples of strong citizen science projects; (2) discuss effective strategies for improving informal science education through citizen science; and (3) showcase the potential of citizen science to educate the public in paleontological research themes relating to evolution, climate change, and biodiversity.

Through a combination of case studies, theory presentations, and question-and-answer sessions, we hope to encourage more paleontologists of all levels to understand citizen science as a viable means for addressing research questions, and to provide a rewarding science experience for members of the public.

Abstract submission will be open from around April 1st to August 1st. Please email Eleanor if you have any questions, and feel free to forward this information to any potentially interested groups!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *