FOSSIL Project Updates Winter 2018

By Jen Bauer & Sadie Mills

Geological Society of America and Dry Dredgers 

The FOSSIL Project and Dry Dredgers booth at the annual GSA meeting. Photo credit: Bill Heimbrock.

The annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) was hosted in Indianapolis, Indiana this year. The FOSSIL Project teamed up with the Cincinnati Dry Dredgers to host a booth in the exhibition hall. Together FOSSIL team members and Dry Dredgers shared our love of fossils and the social paleontology community.  The Dry Dredgers brought local Ordovician fossils, resources for fossil collectors, and information on their organization. FOSSIL team members promoted our new mobile app. All together, the FOSSIL team members and Dry Dredgers presented or were collaborators on six talks and five posters.   


View of the Meetings and Conferences group in the myFOSSIL mobile app.


Mobile App 

The myFOSSIL mobile app was widely publicized through our booth, posters, and talks at the annual GSA meeting. Prior to leaving we created a new group, Meetings and Conferences so users could upload images at the conference to share with the community. This group can also be used for monthly club meetings and will be a great way for others interested in joining clubs or societies to get an idea of the meeting or conference setting. So far this new group has 19 photos posted by 9 different members with a total of 29 group members.  

Visit for details on how to get started. 

Paleontological Society Student Ambassador at GSA

The Paleontological Society offers a Student Ambassador program for undergraduate students interested in a career in paleontology that would like to attend the Geological Society of America (GSA) annual meeting to present their research and network with potential graduate school advisors. Since funds are limited, only a few prospective paleontologists are chosen each year, some with research to present and some without. Due to the competitive nature of the award, it is a great honor to be chosen as a recipient of the Paleontological Society Student Ambassadorship – it means your application stood out amongst dozens of other dedicated and qualified students.

FOSSIL Project intern, Samantha (Sam) Ocon, was chosen as a student ambassador due to her experiences with both invertebrate and vertebrate paleontology research. Sam has dedicated years of my life to this field and it felt wonderful to be recognized for her efforts! GSA was a great opportunity for a junior paleontologist to meet many paleontology-minded folks. As a student ambassador, Sam was expected to work shifts at the Paleontological Society exhibitors booth. Being stationary at the booth allowed for Sam to engage in conversations with everyone that stopped by and she thoroughly enjoyed her experience. Amongst discussions at the booth, she also met potential graduate school advisors when they came by the booth to discuss the Society. Sam also aided in providing content for the Paleontological Society Twitter account. Sam had a successful GSA experience that was enriched by the opportunities provided by the Paleontological Society.

Southeastern Geological Society of America 

The Southeastern Geological Society of America meeting will be hosted in Charleston, South Carolina on March 27-29th, 2019. The FOSSIL Project interns, Mary Jane Hughes and Sam Ocon, have both submitted abstracts on their use of Instagram as an engaging educational tool. Their work dissects how to extract participation and engagement through Instagram posts and stories. MacKenzie Smith, a UF graduate student, has submitted an abstract to present his work examining FOSSIL YouTube content and how to best understand the different materials presented on this social media platform.

North American Paleontological Convention 

The 11th North American Paleontological Convention (NAPC) is to be hosted in Riverside, California on June 23-27th, 2019. The FOSSIL Project initial kick-off event was at the 10th NAPC hosted in Gainesville, Florida. The FOSSIL team is hosting a symposium summarizing the accomplishments of the FOSSIL project and will discuss the future of the social paleontology platform.  

FOSSIL is also partnering with several other events at NAPC. Specifically, two symposia entitled, “Engaging diverse communities in Paleontology: Innovative educational initiatives that connect culture to natural history” and “Two to tango: amateur-professional interactions in advancing paleontological knowledge.” Additionally, FOSSIL is helping support an iDigBio workshop for local California K-12 educators called, “Leveraging Educational Material Created through Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections.” 

Coming soon- changes to the myFOSSIL website. 

The myFOSSIL website will be undergoing some technical and stylistic changes. The ultimate goal of the fossil upload process is to be able to share your data with research scientists and the public at large. To do this we need to curate or verify the information uploaded to determine if the fossil can be sent to large databases for others to publicly access. We are first working to make the fossil upload process more fluid for everyone, which means including information on how to acquire some of the occurrence data. The more data included with the fossil, the more likely it is to be sent to a large database.  

Additionally, stylistic changes to the site will inaugurate our ‘eMuseum.’ This interactive, virtual  fossil gallery will be easier to explore and search, making myFOSSIL members’ fossil uploads even more useful for research and education!

The Paleontological Society Avocational Membership Rate

From Jayson Kowinski, Paleontological Society Avocational Liaison:

The Paleontological Society is reaching out to Amateur fossil collectors by introducing a new Amateur/Avocational membership category. This membership category, meant to entice amateurs, is set at a discounted rate of $30.00 and includes the benefits of regular membership, including FREE online access (past and present publications) to both the Journal of Paleontology and Paleobiology, FREE access to complete chapters of upcoming volumes of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, and many more perks!

As part of their plan on working with the amateur paleontology community, the Paleontological Society is in the process of creating an “Avocational Corner” on their website which will serve as a resource to Amateur fossil collectors and stress the importance of amateurs in the field of paleontology.  The P.S. also opened their distinguished lecturer program to Amateur fossil clubs and organizations.  Finally, The P.S. has created an Avocational Liaison position, filled by an amateur, who advises the Council on Avocational matters and has also placed an amateur on their Government affairs committee.

The P.S. is just getting started as there are many more avocational goals in the works. If you would like to be part of the society, please join at the $30.00 avocational/educator discount rate!

Read more about membership and membership benefits here!

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