What are conferences and why is NAPC different?

by MacKenzie Smith (@mackenzie-smith)

Greetings readers!

MacKenzie presenting in Two to Tango on NARG! Photo by Sadie Mills.

Conferences are, at least in my opinion, one of the methods of communication in science that are not frequently talked about or seen outside of academia. Since I’m one of those weirdos who likes to talk in front of groups of people, I was initially excited by the idea of conferences as an undergraduate, but my opinion changed on them as I moved on to graduate school. Conferences can take up a lot of time (and money) and sometimes are more draining than anything especially if there aren’t a lot of talks you are wholly invested in. NAPC was different though. Unlike most conferences I’ve attended before which were focused on geology or botany, NAPC had sessions on all aspects of paleontology. To me, this made it very worth while since the skills and knowledge base in one paleo field can be transferred to another or put into the larger context of the history of life. Since the sessions all had different themes I wouldn’t say there was one or several take away points. Likewise, I don’t think I could point a finger on ways I directly benefited other than increased awareness of other studies and the inspiration to keep working to keep up.

To keep up, I gave a talk of my own titled “Bridging the gap: Outreach and research contributions of the North America Research Group (NARG)”. In it, I discussed NARG’s history, it’s outreach and major fossil discoveries. I also talked about the important role that fossil clubs play in inspiring and guiding people (generally, but not always youth) into the academic realm.

If you would like more insight from the conference including photos you can follow this link to a YouTube video on the conference: An inside look at a paleontology conference!

Signing off,

MacKenzie