October 20, 2014 by Dr. G
It’s that time of year again – time for the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. This national organization gathers together geologists from not just the United States but from across the globe to discuss the latest and greatest in geological research and discoveries. This year’s conference is larger than in past years, with over 8,000 registered attendees and over 4,000 presentations – perhaps because the conference is being held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada! And the Vancouver Convention Center (or as Canadians spell it – “Centre”) is an amazing facility to have a conference, with an incredible living roof and overall green design and practices.
I enjoy this conference for so many reasons. Because I am the only geologist at Penn State Brandywine, the GSA meeting gives me a chance to meet and connect with fellow scientists in my discipline. It is also a great way to catch up on all that is happening in the geosciences, and to hear some inspiring talks and to view some quality posters. I’m also looking forward to going through the Exhibit Hall this year to see what new textbooks and geological supplies are available – but more on the Exhibit Hall in a future post!
On Saturday, GSA hosts many professional development workshops and fieldtrips to geologic locations. One of the inspiring fieldtrips I head about was one designed for people with visual and physical limitations, giving access to geology and geologic outcrops to everyone. I was involved with a workshop on Teaching Controversial Issues, helping K-12 teachers, graduate students, and other faculty think about how to approach teaching topics such as climate change, evolution, and hydrofracking. This is the second year I’ve worked with this team of collaborators on offering the full-day workshop, and it was great fun with some lively and engaging discussions.
Sunday is the first official day of technical sessions. In addition to the talks, several committees and affiliate organizations have their business meetings on Sunday. One of my service duties outside of Penn State Brandywine is serving as an elected councilor with the Council on Undergraduate Research – Geoscience Division. CUR is an organization that focuses on mentoring faculty on best practices for working with undergraduate student researchers, and I’m always energized getting together with this group to hear about their innovative approaches to working with their students on various research projects.
And I wish I had the space and time to detail all of the social receptions, awards ceremonies, and other events taking place at the conference! I missed the social media meet-up for geoscientists on Twitter last night, but that’s because it took me much longer to walk back from the Jimi Hendrix shrine than I thought it would. But I was able to walk part of the Trans Canada Trail, which was neat to learn about. Oh well, all I have to do is follow the conference hashtag #GSA2014 to see what everyone is tweeting – feel free to follow along as well!