Upcoming Conferences – Part I: Geological Society of America

Figure 1.  GSA 2014 in beautiful downtown Vancouver!  I listened to them building this convention center every day for months on end, so it had better look nice!
Figure 1. GSA 2014 in beautiful downtown Vancouver! I listened to them building this convention center every day for months on end, so it had better look nice!

Much of the research I do is interdisciplinary. While I often consider myself a paleoecologist, it is just as true that I am a physical geographer, earth scientist, ecologist, geoinformatician and computational biologist, with an order that varies depending on the project at hand. I think Jacquelyn Gill once suggested I call myself a paleobiogeoecoclimatologinformatician, and I honestly think I’m probably forgetting a piece of that.  Anyway, with that in mind I find myself at a variety of conferences each year. I am as much at home at the Botanical Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, or the Geological Society of America‘s annual conferences as I am at the Canadian Association of Palynologist’s meeting. The next meeting for me is this Octobers Geological Society of America meeting in Vancouver BC.

Since Vancouver was home for me while I did my Ph.D, I jumped at the opportunity to present at GSA.  One session in particular was of great interest: Where in the World? Access and Availability to Geoscience Data II. I’ve been involved with the Neotoma Paleoecological Database for a while now, and have been actively working on an R package for the database. In particular I wanted to talk about my experiences at the intersection of Neotoma (the data provider) and PalEON (a data consumer & provider). From my viewpoint both large scale projects have benefitted immensely from the partnership. While the PalEON project is able to get large volumes of data from the Neotoma Database, we have also been able to leverage our connections to begin inputting data into the database, and, because of our particular needs, we have been able to act as a test case for the development of the API, R package, and many of the new upload tools for Neotoma. Much of the success of EarthCube in the near future is going to depend on the ability to gain community trust, and engagement. The partnership between large-scale ecological research and broad community databases provides exactly the kinds of synergies needed to help improve this kind of collaboration, and, ultimately, research success in the future. That talk:

Session No. 253
Where in the World? Access and Availability to Geoscience Data II
Vancouver Convention Centre-West 116/117
Tuesday, 21 October 2014: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM

I was also invited by Amy Myrbo to speak about some of our work looking at chronologies in Neotoma. This may seem overly technical, perhaps not particularly ecological, but the way we deal with chronologies in paleoecological data is critically important for modelling past ecosystem changes. Without an accurate understanding of time, it is nearly impossible to make sense of ecological patterns in the past, or to apply them in a meaningful way to modern ecological theory. I’ll talk a bit about the lessons we’ve learned from re-building chronologies in PalEON, particularly some of the great work Andria Dawson has been doing, and how to deal with issues of time when working with large datasets, with specific focus on Neotoma. That talk:

Session No. 325
Recent Advances in Limnogeology (1:00 – 5:00pm)
Vancouver Convention Centre-West: 213
Wednesday, 22 October 2014

I’m also going to be speaking at the Biodiversity Lunchtime Internal Seminar Series (BLISS) at UBC on Monday, October 20th from noon to 1:00PM, and again for the Biological Sciences Seminar Series at Simon Fraser University on Wednesday October 22 at 3:30PM (as long as the 135 is running on time!).

Lastly, if you are a paleoecologist or palynologist, CAP, the Canadian Association of Palynologists, is having their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday October 22nd at 11:30am at Mahony & Sons, right by the convention. All are welcome, so please come out and join us. Everyone loves meetings!

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Assistant scientist in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Studying paleoecology and the challenges of large data synthesis.

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