FOSSIL Project Updates Summer 2017

by Eleanor E. Gardner

Personnel Updates

Eleanor Gardner

It is with a mixture of both happiness and sadness that we announce the project coordinator, Eleanor Gardner, will be leaving FOSSIL. She recently accepted a position with the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum. Eleanor will be the new Outreach and Engagement Coordinator at the KU museum. She and her husband will move to Lawrence, Kansas, on August 10, 2017. The project team is actively searching for a new coordinator who will manage FOSSIL’s activities and events during the no-cost-extension year of NSF funding. At this time, Eleanor is working hard to ensure a smooth transition for whomever replaces her. Jeanette Pirlo, who joined the FOSSIL team in October, will serve as an interim coordinator in the event a suitable replacement cannot come on board and be trained before Eleanor leaves. Eleanor has greatly enjoyed being a part of the FOSSIL community and she will miss the many friends she has made over the past two years – but note that she plans to stay in contact and involved in the project from Kansas!

More new faces will be joining the FOSSIL team in the Fall 2017 semester. Two graduate students, one in paleobotany and one in science education, will become involved in project activities and events starting in mid-August. Keep your eyes peeled in future newsletters for articles introducing these new team members!

Search for Social Media Strategist Intern

The FOSSIL team would appreciate help in spreading the word about a new internship opportunity for an upper-level undergraduate student located in north-central Florida. This intern would help to expand the project’s social media presence beyond the Facebook and Twitter platforms.

To engage with informal learners around the world, the FOSSIL project team utilizes social media as well as our social paleontology website,  We have a robust social media plan in place, with a protocol and evaluation methods. We are currently looking to hire a social media intern for the remainder of the project, through September 30, 2018.  Ideally the intern would be an upper-level undergraduate student in a marketing, communications, or journalism major and with science interests.  We are especially interested in hiring someone with experience in YouTube and Instagram.  The intern would need to attend weekly planning meetings with the rest of the social media team, attend monthly project steering committee meetings, utilize Hootsuite to schedule content in advance, and be available for the occasional Skype/phone call.

Interested students should submit a 1-page resume, 2-page portfolio showing social media style, and contact information for at least one reference to the project director, Dr. Bruce MacFadden, at [email protected].

Upcoming FOSSIL Webinar Series

We are in the planning stages for the Fall 2017 webinar series, which will focus on fossil identification and be loosely modeled upon PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow.” A practice run was conducted on July 5th to test the new format and timing, as well as to uncover any unforeseen issues. We envision selecting four fossil clubs to “highlight” via five interesting and/or representative fossils. Each amateur would have about five minutes to discuss their fossil with a professional paleontologist and receive information about identification resources. Webinar attendees would also be provided with time for a Q&A session after each fossil. Although the fossil images will be displayed via a myFOSSIL-branded powerpoint presentation during the webinar, there will be live webcam feeds of the interacting amateurs and professionals. We hope this format will provide our webinar participants with a more dynamic experience.

If you think your fossil club would be a good match for this webinar series, please contact Eleanor Gardner at [email protected] before August 1.

Each webinar will be accessible via the iDigBio AdobeConnect software platform at The webinar episodes will begin at 7pm Eastern time on the following dates:

  • September 20
  • October 18
  • November 15
  • December 13

myFOSSIL 3D Gallery is Live!

In June, a 3D gallery was released to the myFOSSIL website: This gallery allows users to view, upload, and manipulate 3D fossil images. STL files up to 50MB can be uploaded directly within the website, and files up to 120MB can be uploaded via a hotlink (such as a Dropbox hotlink). Please explore this new feature and provide us with your feedback! To send feedback, use the orange “Send Feedback” button in the bottom right hand corner.

3D Gallery

Recent & Upcoming Events

On May 6th, FOSSIL participated in a highly successful ‘Women in Paleontology’ event hosted by the Florida Fossil Hunters (FFH) as part of the Women in STEM Day at the Orlando Science Center. Over 1800 guests participated in the day’s activities! A diverse group of speakers, including Michelle Barboza (FOSSIL), Celina Suarez (Univ of Arkansas) via Skype, Ta-Shana Taylor (Univ of Miami), Laura Cotton (FLMNH), and Rachel Narducci (FLMNH), inspired a new generation of girls and young women to pursue their interests in paleontology. Eleanor Gardner and Jeanette Pirlo from FOSSIL interacted with children and families all day long at the myFOSSIL activity tables. A set of women in STEM themed coloring books made for very popular door prizes! Thanks to help from an Education & Outreach grant from the Paleontological Society, the FFH were able to offer free admission to underprivileged privileged students. Overall, the event was a great success! We thank Cindy Lockner, Bonnie Cronin, and Russell Brown for inviting FOSSIL to participate in this wonderful annual event.

Michelle Barboza

jeanette Pirlo

Ta-Shana Taylor

Ta-Shana Taylor

Also in May, FOSSIL affiliate and FLMNH graduate student Sean Moran gave a talk to the Fossil Club of Lee County in Fort Myers, FL, at their monthly meeting. Sean was presented with a scholarship from the club to help support his continued research during the second year of his PhD studies.

Over 30 participants have been selected for the upcoming 2017 Fossils For Teachers Professional Development workshop taking place August 2-5. Planning is underway and the FOSSIL team is growing more excited by the day to see what results from connecting K-12 teachers with fossil club members, and throwing a bunch of donated fossils into the mix! We have thousands of fossils available for the teams of teachers & club members to lesson plan with and to create classroom kits with. If you are interested in participating in future events like this, please contact Jeanette Pirlo at [email protected].

From October 22-25, the FOSSIL Project will participate in the 2017 Geological Society of America national annual meeting in Seattle, WA. If you’ll be there, be sure to come check out the myFOSSIL table in the exhibit hall (and get some awesome myFOSSIL swag!). Several team members will also be presenting research talks and posters at the meeting.

We highly encourage members of the FOSSIL community to submit talk abstracts to the GSA 2017 topical session ‘T64 Citizen Science in paleontology: harnessing public interest to advance research and STEM education.’ Abstracts are due by 11:59 Pacific time on August 1 at

In the citizen science in paleontology session, successes and lessons learned will be highlighted. Academic paleontologists, educators, and non-academic speakers are invited 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.

Please email Eleanor at [email protected] if you have any questions, and feel free to forward this information to any potentially interested groups!

On November 3 & 4, the Florida Museum of Natural History will host a National Fossil Day celebration. All Florida-based fossil clubs are invited to participate in the exciting events. On November 3rd at 4:30pm in the Harn Museum of Art auditorium, a distinguished speaker of the Paleontology Society, Dr. Jonathan Hendricks, will give a fascinating and fossil-centric public lecture as part of the iDigBio project’s annual summit meeting. Then, on November 4th from 10am – 3pm, Florida fossil clubs will participate in FLMNH’s National Fossil Day festivities. To help facilitate participation for those traveling long distances, FOSSIL will provide up to two hotel rooms per club for the night of November 3rd. FOSSIL would like to thank Paul Roth of the Florida Paleontological Society for his leadership in planning and organizing much of the November 4th NFD activities. If you have questions about the Nov 3 talk, please contact Jeanette Pirlo at [email protected] and if you have questions specific to NFD (Nov 4) please contact Paul Roth.


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