Enhancing undergraduate research with social media: the last presentation by a Wooster Geologist at GSA 2012

November 7th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–Our very last presentation at the 2012 annual meeting of the Geological Society of America was by Professor Meagen Pollock. She is shown above in an iPhone photograph near the middle of her talk about the educational and research value of social media in a geology undergraduate setting. (You can read her abstract here.) Appropriately, I posted this image on Facebook while she was still talking!

Presenting a Jurassic echinoid story on the last day of GSA 2012

November 7th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–The last day of a scientific meeting is always less frantic. About half the attendees have left for home, the exhibitors start to give away merchandise so they don’t have to ship it home, and the speakers are a bit more relaxed. Meagen Pollock and I had talks on this final day of the Geological Society of America annual meeting. It felt good to finally give them to audiences made up in large part by our friends and students. I am simply presenting here a few of my slides, including the title image above. The story you may have read in bits and pieces in the Israel entries at this blog. Here is our abstract.

Wooster GSA 2012 Poster Take Three

November 6th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC – Five Wooster geologists presented their work on day three of the conference.

Whitney Sims (’13) presented her  IS on the emplacement of lava flows in the Ice Springs Volcanic Field (Team Utah). Here is her abstract.

Anna Mudd (’13) presented her work on a Middle Miocene paleosol from the Powder River Volcanic Field (northeast Oregon). Here is her abstract.

Jenn Horton (’13) answered questions about her study of the glacial history of Adams Inlet in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (southeast Alaska). Here is her abstract.

Lauren Vargo’s (’13) poster described how she used tree rings to understand North Pacific volcanically forced cooling and drought in midwestern North America. Here is her abstract.

Andy Nash (’14) showed how he used tree rings to investigate drought in northeast Ohio. Here is his abstract.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference, when we’ll get to see the final two talks and two posters.

Alumni Night at the 2012 Geological Society of America Meeting

November 5th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–Monday evening is the traditional time at GSA when colleges and universities (and field camps and consortia) host gatherings of their alumni and friends. The College of Wooster is always art of the “Group Alumni Reception”, so we get a pole with our name on it in a large ballroom with many other such markers. We always take a photo at 8:00 p.m. to record the moment. (And yes, the lighting is always problematic!) We never get everyone all at once, but this time we were very close. (Compare the above crowd with the Wooster GSA group from 2011. We had a large crowd in 2010. Our earliest alumni photo on the blog is from way back in 2009.)

George Davis (’64), President of the Geological Society of America, regaled our students with stories from his Wooster and graduate school days. It was much fun!

And now, the all-important list of who was there —

Wooster Geology Alumni, Students and Faculty:

Bill Woessner
Andy Horst
Katherine Marenco
John Sime
Kathy Hollis
Richa Ekka
Will Cary
Lauren Vargo
Jonah Novek
Matt Peppers
Tricia Kelley
Stephanie Jarvis
Anna Mudd
George Davis
Melissa Torma
Whitney Sims
Andy Nash
Lindsey Bowman
Kevin Silver
Kit Price
Jenn Horton
David Budd
Lisa Park Boush
Andrew Retzler
Abe Springer
Molly Miller
Mark Wilson
Shelley Judge
Meagen Pollock

Friends of the Wooster Geology Department:

Andrea Koziol
Bob Varga
Pedro Marenco
Merrily Davis
Calvin Miller
Brian Pratt

An overhead view of a GSA poster session

November 5th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–I thought you might like to see a typical GSA poster session from a set of windows above the action. Only half of the poster stands are visible from here, so you get an idea how big these events are.

The second group of Wooster GSA 2012 posters

November 5th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–Matt Peppers (’13), a member of the intrepid Team Utah, presented his poster today at the 2012 Geological Society of America annual meeting. Matt is working on the dynamics of the volcanic flows in the Black Rock Desert. Here is his abstract.

Melissa Torma (’13) showed her poster in the same session. She worked in the Negev of southern Israel on the Middle Jurassic Matmor Formation fauna. Her GSA abstract is here.

The third Wooster presenter was Richa Ekka (’13), who worked on Saaremaa Island in Estonia this summer. Her abstract describing her project with a Silurian shallow water dolomitic sequence is here.

Once again it was a joy to watch our students interact with the many geologists who discussed their posters and projects. I now can’t imagine coming to these meetings without an enthusiastic group of our students.

“Where Our Deepest Passions Intersect the World’s Compelling Needs”: The 2012 GSA Presidential Address

November 4th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–President of the Geological Society of America George H. Davis delivered a spectacular and inspiring address early this afternoon. As his title says, he emphasized the joys and privileges of being geologists along with the civic and scientific duties to make a difference. He discussed why we became geologists in the first place, even using images of his Structural Geology homework and Independent Study from his Wooster undergraduate days! I especially appreciated his ideas about how we can better serve the public through organized, rapid responses to geological events.

We also watched GSA Past President John W. Geissman present the President’s Medal to the author and environmental activist Bill McKibben (below). It was an apt follow-up to the Presidential Address — a real example of a life lived in service of public education and activism.

The first Wooster Geology student posters at GSA 2012

November 4th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–The brave souls Jonah Novek (’13) above and Kit Price (’13) below were the first Wooster students to present their posters at the 2012 Geological Society of America meeting. Jonah worked in Estonia this past summer on Early Silurian recovery faunas in the Hilliste Formation on Hiiumaa Island. You can read his abstract directly here, and you can recall his field adventures by searching for “Jonah” in this blog. Kit collected Upper Ordovician cryptic sclerobiont fossils in Indiana in the late summer. Her abstract is here, and you can see her work in this blog by searching for “Kit“. Jonah and Kit started off our GSA presentation experience with confidence and joy.

Wooster Geologists at the GSA President’s Student Breakfast

November 4th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–The Geological Society of America has a tradition of hosting a free breakfast for those students willing to come to the convention center at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning. The meal is hosted by the GSA President and sponsored by ExxonMobil Corporation. Secretaries of GSA sections and associated societies help serve the students, which is why I was there.

This year’s GSA President is George H. Davis (Wooster ’64) who with his wife Merrily generously greeted the Wooster students at their table, telling them stories about their Wooster days and inspiring them to geological activism. It was a classic moment for Wooster Geology.

This, by the way, was the first time I saw the Wooster students after their long drive down from Wooster to Charlotte. It was great to see them happy, enthusiastic and safe. They also seemed mighty hungry.

 

First GSA Event: The Paleontological Society Short Course — “Reconstructing Earth’s Deep-Time Climate”

November 3rd, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA–This iPhone snapshot of a dark lecture room may record the time and place, but it hardly does justice to the event, so let’s see an image of the colorful special volume printed for this year’s Paleontological Society Short Course:

Much better. The Paleontological Society has a short course every year at its annual meeting with the Geological Society of America. I’ve been to nearly every one since my graduate school days. They are designed to bring paleontologists up to speed on the latest innovations and ideas in the science. They are also — sometimes in contradiction — supposed to review basic concepts for non-experts in a particular subdiscipline. This year’s course, developed by Linda Ivany (Syracuse University) and Brian Huber (Smithsonian Institution), was even more ambitious than most: it brought together paleontologists and geochemists to address how we deduce ancient climates, and by implication Earth’s history of climate change. As an indication of its interdisciplinary nature, this short course was also sponsored by the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) and the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research. Linda and Brian succeeded in not only bringing us introductory level description of paleoclimatological theory and practice, they also showed us some of the most exciting new developments in the field. And unlike every other short course, this one even had food and drink!

I learned a great deal in this course, especially about some geochemical techniques for estimating ancient seawater temperatures such as clumped isotope and lipid paleothermometry, oxygen isotope analysis, and Mg/Ca ratio determination. Each has particular advantages in particular circumstances, and each has significant limitations in other settings. They all produce varieties of what Greg Wiles calls “wiggly lines” open to interpretation as to what they mean about ancient temperature histories. We also saw several examples of how climate analysis actually works with invertebrate, vertebrate and plant fossils. As always, one of the primary lessons was that biological systems are not easily modeled or predicted — that what geochemists call “vital effects” can make complicated natural processes even more convoluted.

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