November 3, 2015 by Dr. G
I wish I had some more time to explore Baltimore – although I’ve visited here several times, being so close to the baseball stadium and Waterfront makes me want to be a tourist! But the conference calls…
Right after lunch, I headed to a session called “Savor the Cryosphere.” I was only able to stay for the first talk and half of the second talk, but it is always a real pleasure to hear Dr. Richard Alley of Penn State speak about what is happening in the polar regions (he is such a great public speaker!), and Dr. Lonnie Thompson held my attention describing what it takes to collect ice cores from tropical glaciers (wow, what field logistics!). There is a press release that captures what this event was about.
I then attended a meeting called “Question Writing Mini Workshop for Introductory Geology.” I’m part of a Faculty Advisory Team helping Drs. Karen Kortz and Jessica Smay who are authoring a new introductory-level geoscience textbook focusing on best pedagogical practices. Our session, with about 30 faculty in attendance, had us reading through drafts of their chapters and working on writing effective questions that focused on the big picture understanding with clear expectations. It is a harder task than you might think! I found the exercise valuable in thinking about my own questions that I write for students (and ones that I’ll need to write for upcoming final exams!).
I zipped back to the Exhibit Hall to see the William Smith Map Display – 1st Edition Facsimile Print.” This map was on display for limited hours each day. What’s the big deal about a map? This map is “the” map that changed the world! (according to Simon Winchester’s book of the same title – by the way, Winchester was here at the conference to give a talk and for a book signing) It is the 200th anniversary of “a delineation of the strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland; exhibiting the collieries and mines, the marshes and fen lands originally overflowed by the sea, and the varieties of soil according to the variations in the substrata, illustrated by the most descriptive names.” This 1815 geological map was hand drawn by Smith, considered the father of stratigraphy and faunal successions in the geologic record (learn more about the map and William Smith in this press release). I was even able to grab a selfie with “William Smith” himself!
Then I headed back to the complete opposite end of the Exhibit Hall for the “Women Deans and Chairs Discussion Group.” Approximately twelve female geologists gathered to discuss a variety of topics around the theme of “transitions” and how this connections to leadership roles we play as chairs of departments and committees, or deans, or any other type of leadership. We had a very lively conversations with great suggestions of resources to follow up with, and I left with a list of questions to ask myself – how have I edited my CV (that’s a resume in academia) to reflect my accomplishments? Do I have a 1-minute elevator speech about my job accomplishments? How would I describe my leadership style, and how has it evolved? I have my “homework” cut out for me!
The last event of the evening was the Group Alumni Event, a chance for people to gather with alumni from across the years from their undergraduate and/or graduate programs. Here, Bucknell University (my undergraduate institution) had a sign post for everyone to gather and catch up on what was going on in our lives, and the developments on campus. (the photo was taken before the event began – this is a very well attended event and a conference favorite!)
Phew! It was a full day. Tuesday will be my final day at the conference (I’m leaving one day early to get back to campus), but it will be an busy one as well. Stay tuned for the update!