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Workshops Nine workshops will be offered in conjunction with the Annual Meeting. Advanced registration for all workshops is required. Onsite registration will not be accepted. SVP reserves the right to alter or cancel a workshop due to low registration or if access to sites is limited or closed to the public. In the event of a workshop cancellation, SVP will refund fees in full. 

1. Amira-Avizo Software for Paleontology -- WORKSHOP FULL

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center
Cost: Free
Minimum Number of Participants: 25
Maximum Number of Participants: 30
Instructor: Alex Hall, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Software Product Marketing Engineer


Alex Hall
Thermo Fisher

Germain Siraudin
Thermo Fisher

This half-day workshop consists of a presentation and hands-on exercises intended for new and existing users of Thermo Scientific™ Amira-Avizo Software.

Amira-Avizo 3D software provides a comprehensive, multimodal digital lab for quickly visualizing and segmenting complex paleontology data. Researchers can automate segmentation workflows on image data in batch and export beautiful animations and statistics.

The course will highlight the important features and unique functionalities of Amira-Avizo Software for Paleontology such as:
  • Data visualization
  • Image processing to enhance contrast
  • Segmentation
  • Surface generation
  • Presentation and animation
After a presentation on Amira-Avizo Software, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, see live demonstrations, and use the software. Temporary licenses will be provided.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own data. Attendees must bring their own PC with suitable 3D graphics card for course participation.

Read system requirements

Information about software distribution, system requirements and installation will be e-mailed approximately one week prior to the workshop.

2. CANCELED -- An Introduction to Virtual Paleontology — Digitization and Visualization of Vertebrate Fossils with 3D Methods

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center
Cost: $110
Minimum Number of Participants: 10
Maximum Number of Participants: 20
Required items and recommended background: Laptop computer (mouse highly recommended) and Blender (, Autodesk Maya (free for students/ academics)
One-month trial available:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Because WiFi may not be available, it is imperative that participants download and install all necessary software beforehand.


Stephan Lautenschlager

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK

Ryan Carney
School of Geosciences
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL 33620, United States of America

Computational methods for the three-dimensional visualization, analysis and reconstruction of fossils have revolutionized paleontological research in the last decade. Vertebrate paleontology has in particular benefitted from the increasingly widespread and affordable application of these techniques, which allow researchers to describe fossils in unprecedented detail, provide new insights into hard- and soft-tissue anatomy, and make digital removal of taphonomic artefacts possible. The primary objective of the proposed workshop is to equip the participants with the competency to visualize three-dimensional models of fossils. Topics covered will focus on (1) processing and visualization of digital data with the freely available 3D modelling package Blender; (2) generation of theoretical digital models, introduction to scientific analysis and programming in Blender; and (3) animation of models using the 3D package Autodesk Maya.

Although example data sets will be provided, participants will be encouraged to bring their own data sets. From this workshop, the participants will acquire their own 3D data sets, in addition to the skill and resources required to generate, visualize and present digital models. The proposed workshop is intended to complement the proposed symposium Building a Phenomic Universe: Collection, Management, and Applications of Digital Morphological Data.

3. Techniques in Digital Scientific Illustration: A Guide to Improving Workflow

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm (with an hour break for lunch)
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center
Cost: $70
Minimum Number of Participants: 8
Maximum Number of Participants: 25
Requirements: Participants will need to bring their own computer with some version of Photoshop and Illustrator on it and a tablet, such as Wacom. Participants should have at least a basic understanding of Photoshop. Participants can also bring their portfolios or works in progress for discussion and sharing purposes.


April Neander

Scientific Illustrator, Lab Manager
Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
The University of Chicago
1027 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Kristen Tietjen
Graphic Artist - Michael Coates’ Lab
Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
The University of Chicago
1027 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Lauren Conroy
Graphic Artist - Paul Sereno’s Fossil Lab
Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
The University of Chicago
1027 E 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

The purpose of this workshop is to enhance participant’s current workflow in scientific illustration with the use of digital techniques. The workshop will provide an overview of illustration techniques as well as provide functional working knowledge. An emphasis will be placed on creating digital illustrations that mimic or are informed by traditional techniques with the purpose of being submitted for publication. Digital illustration has many advantages including being faster, cheaper, and easier to make changes.

The primary theme of the workshop will focus on ways to mimic traditional techniques in digital media, such as ink wash, ink on scratchboard, stipple, graphite dust, and coquille board.

We will also cover topics that serve as background and support for our main theme, such as: planning out an illustration, software, tablets, posture, gathering and organizing reference materials, photography for reference and its limitations, design and layout, and using light to create form. Lastly, we will cover topics relevant to publication such as file formats, naming conventions, and the requirements of different journals for publication. Throughout the day there will be hands on activities, such as inking a sketch in illustrator, and topics of general discussion. At the end of the workshop participants will have the opportunity to share their current projects. Participants will leave the workshop with a handout covering workflow, additional resources, and guidelines, and they will be equipped with new tips and tricks in their illustrator’s arsenal for future projects.

4. Expect the Unexpected: Best Practices for Field and Workplace Safety

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 9:00am – 4:30pm
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center
Cost: $65
Minimum Number of Participants: 20
Maximum Number of Participants: 30


M. Allison Stegner

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Zoology
University of Wisconsin, Madison
430 Lincoln Dr.
Madison, WI, 53706

Joseph E. Peterson
Associate Professor of Geology
Department of Geology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd
Oshkosh WI 54901

Anthony Maltese
Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
201 S. Fairview St.
Woodland Park, CO, 80863
719- 494-6315

Developing and implementing effective safety protocols is crucial for a successful paleontological field program. While some institutions and mentors have taken it upon themselves to collect safety recommendations for researchers under their employ as well as students and volunteers who are working in the field, many paleontologists — particularly graduate students and early career professionals — are forced to reinvent the wheel when it comes to planning what equipment to pack and have on hand, creating contingency plans, and planning for circumstances they may not have even imagined. It is rare for these recommendations to be required or enforced, and as a consequence, many field researchers face serious, not-uncommon risks with inadequate planning and poor adherence to basic safety standards. A well-organized safety plan is also imperative for the workplace and classroom, as evidenced by a rising number of violent incidents on university campuses nation-wide. This workshop will discuss the risks that are inherent in paleontological field work and workplace, propose suggestions and best-practices for various scenarios and settings, and provide attendees with concrete, specific suggestions.

Led by SVP members who have extensive experience leading field work, and who have survived life-threatening incidents, the workshop will include discussions concerning the risks and obstacles involved with: 1) leading groups of volunteers, 2) solo expeditions, 3) and interpersonal safety such as gun violence and physical altercations. A two hour segment on basic first aid training will be taught by certified wilderness first responders from the National Outdoor Leadership School, so that attendees leave with concrete first aid skills, but are encouraged to seek further training. The workshop leaders will share their accounts of surviving grave circumstances as learning tools to promote preparedness for common and extreme hazards. Participants are encouraged to come with questions regarding specific field plans, and consider new techniques to incorporate into their current field programs and workplace settings.

Following the workshop, participants are invited to contribute to a template of safety and best-practice standards or check-lists, which we hope SVP will consider as approved guidelines.

5. Neotoma Paleoecology Database: Facilitating Transparent Data Curation in Vertebrate Paleontology

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 9:00am – 4:30pm
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center
Cost: $20
Minimum Number of Participants: 5
Maximum Number of Participants: 2


Jessica Blois

University of California-Merced
Life and Environmental Sciences
5200 N. Lake Rd.
Merced, CA 95343

Edward Davis
University of Oregon
Dept. of Earth Sciences
1272 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1272

Alison Stegner
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Department of Integrative Biology
430 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706

The Neotoma Paleoecology Database is a community-curated data resource that supports interdisciplinary global change research by enabling broad-scale studies of taxon and community diversity, distributions, and dynamics during the large environmental changes of the past. One of the strengths of Neotoma is the ability to compare vertebrate data with other proxy data such as fossil pollen, diatoms, ostracodes, insects, charcoal, and geochemical data. By consolidating many kinds of data, Neotoma lowers costs of paleodata management, makes paleoecological data openly available, and offers a high-quality, curated resource. In addition, the database is structured to relate absolute dates to taxon occurrences and to allow the creation and storage of age models built on absolute dates from stratigraphic sections. Furthermore, data can be embargoed while undergoing the data collection and publication process, and all datasets are ultimately assigned stable DOIs that facilitate citation of Neotoma data and enable linked-data systems for sharing and connecting earth science data across platforms. Neotoma is a public-access, community-supported database that is emerging as the standard repository for Pliocene and Quaternary paleoecological data.

This one-day workshop will focus on training participants in the process of submitting data for upload to the database. A previous workshop (SVP 2016) focused on accessing paleoecological data using the Neotoma database. Workshop participants will get a brief overview of the Neotoma database, then will be introduced to Tilia as a tool for data entry, metadata entry, and age-model construction. Finally, participants will practice uploading data, using their own or workshop-provided datasets.

Early-career scientists are especially encouraged, but all are welcome.

6. Science Through Multimedia Stories -- WORKSHOP FULL

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00pm (with an hour break for lunch)
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center
Cost per person: $25
Minimum number of participants: 15
Maximum number of participants: 30
Requirement: laptop computer; ability to install new software; the software runs on Windows, so a Mac user must have Windows installed with Parallels or similar software.


Sara ElShafie

Doctoral Candidate
Department of Integrative Biology & UC Museum of Paleontology
University of California, Berkeley
1101 Valley Life Sciences Bldg.
Berkeley, CA 94709

Gabriel-Philip Santos
Collections Manager
Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology
1175 West Baseline Road
Claremont, CA 91711

Ashley Hall
Adult Programs Coordinator
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
1 Wade Oval Drive, University Circle
Cleveland, OH 44106-1767

Storytelling is the most universal form of communication. In the digital age, storytelling through film and social media is crucial for reaching broad audiences. But these skills are typically overlooked or not sufficiently developed in science communication workshops. We have therefore put together an intensive workshop that will give participants fundamental skills for developing engaging science stories, and for sharing those stories on social media using DIY videography.

The morning session will offer an overview of story development, including visual storytelling. Participants will work in small groups throughout the morning to brainstorm and outline a story about a particular topic in paleontology. In the afternoon session, participants will learn essentials of videography, and work with their groups to produce short videos about the science stories they developed that morning. We will also discuss effective use of different social media platforms for science outreach. At the end of the workshop, we will publish the participants’ short videos online through the SVP Education & Outreach Facebook group.

7. Critical Thinking: Teaching the Observational and Tactile Skills Required for Fossil Preparation -- WORKSHOP FULL

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Location: Albuquerque Convention Centre
Cost per person: $100
Minimum number of participants: 10
Maximum number of participants: 12


Mike Eklund

University of Texas at Austin JSG and ThinklabZ
872 S Milwaukee Rd. #119
Libertyville, IL 60048

Gregory Brown
(retired) Chief Preparator
University of Nebraska State Museum
10800 West Mill Rd.
Malcolm, NE 68402

One of the greatest challenges faced by those in charge of training or oversight in a fossil preparation laboratory is finding a repeatable formula for introducing and then developing the mental and tactile skills needed for the efficient and appropriate
preparation of fossil specimens. Modern paleontology requires fossil preparators to first access each specimen and its surrounding matrix, recognize their unique properties, and then develop an appropriate approach for its preparation, stabilization or repair, while preserving as much associated information as possible. All these skills derive from the process of “critical thinking”, a term used to describe forms of learning, thought and analysis that go beyond simple memorization of facts or techniques. This mental process needs to be taught on a recurring basis as new students, volunteers or seasoned academics with little hands-on experience pass through the laboratory. The best way to teach this process and the observational and tactile skills required for fossil preparation is, when possible, through the use of a dual stereo teaching or discussion microscope. With this tool, the experienced preparator can perform tasks while describing the reasoning and thought process as the trainee is observing with full three-dimensional vision. Roles can then be reversed and the trainee can work on the specimen with direct feedback from the experienced trainer. Appropriate tool choice, evaluation of specimen and matrix properties, angle of attack, amount of pressure applied, the size of matrix nibble to be removed are just a few of the challenging factors that inform the critical thinking process that needs to be understood by people new to preparation. All skills discussed in the workshop apply universally to fossil preparation whether on microscopic mice or gigantic sauropods.

This workshop is intended to be an introduction for people responsible for training in a preparation laboratory setting and is not intended as a how-to-prepare-fossils experience. The workshop is also designed to reinforce a teaching method for introducing microscopy skills required in modern fossil preparation. Every participant will have their own specimen to keep as record of concepts taught. Participants will be led through a series of skills, observational as well as tactile, that can be easily applied at their home institutions in a teaching context. Mechanical matrix removal as well as introductory adhesive delivery techniques with tools like micro-oilers and tweezers will be the focus of the tactile skills examples. The importance, relevance and ease of documentation during the preparation process will also be addressed.

8. Ethics in Paleontology

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00pm
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center
Cost per person: Free
Minimum number of participants: 10
Maximum number of participants: 100


Dr. Jeff Liston, FLS PhD

Vice-President of the European Association
of Vertebrate Palaeontologists
Bayerische Staatssammlung für
Paläontologie und Geologie
Richard-Wagner-Str. 10
80333 Munich, Germany;
Yunnan University
Kunming 650091, Yunnan Province,
People’s Republic of China

Scott E. Foss, PhD
BLM Senior Paleontologist
20 M St. SE, Suite 2134
Washington, DC 20003, USA

In 2015, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology reissued its statement on ethics for members, for the first time explicitly linking expulsion from the SVP for failing to obtain fossil material in legal ways. Recent high profile media stories – such as ‘Ty’ the Mongolian tarbosaur and the four-legged Brazilian snake - have drawn attention back to the question of fossil vertebrates that have been illegally excavated and/or exported from their country of origin. Despite the disparate governments involved, the problems are surprisingly universal. In July 2016, at the European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontologists’ annual meeting in Haarlem, Netherlands, a one day ‘FossilLegal’ symposium explored a series of related issues ranging from academics publishing illegally exported fossil material in high impact mainstream journals, to the continuing role of the private commercial sector in paleontology, the effect of poor legislation in creating black markets in fossils around the world, and the likely impact of the new ‘Kulturschutzgesetz’ - German fossil protection law – which became active on August 1st 2016. The private sector – which is the origin of our science and continues to be its lifeblood, providing many of the most important specimens for science - is regularly vilified, with little regard for the commercial practitioners whose exemplary working practices lead to fruitful collaborations in science. Demonization of them, and private collectors, is ultimately counter-productive to fostering an atmosphere that encourages
greater trust and cooperation.

In a time of increasing pressures in our field, this symposiumworkshop will provide an introduction to the issues relating to paleontological legislation with examples from around the world, and some of the related ethical debates. Invited speakers will present on selected topics, leading to a roundtable session to close the event. In a research environment where career pressures are increasing on academics to publish in high impact journals, thus linking science ever more firmly with money, this will be a forum to explore the related issues, particularly in the context of promoting understanding of the interplay between publishing and accessibility with the modern paleontological environment.

9. Small Natural History Museums Resource Network

: Tuesday, October 16
Time: 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: Albuquerque Convention Centre
Cost per person: $20
Minimum number of participants: 25
Maximum number of participants: 75
Recommended items to bring: laptop computers or tablets (suggested, not required)


Cynthia Crane

Aurora Fossil Museum Foundation, Inc.
400 Main St/PO Box 352
Aurora, NC 27806

Jess Miller-Camp
Museum Scientist
Department of Earth Sciences
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521

Museums are the front-line interface between the scientific community and the public, and should be supported as such. Resources are available, but smaller institutions sprinkled in various geographic localities (some remote) have struggles different from the larger state/federally funded meccas. All are important in the big picture, but smaller museums are often overlooked. Workers at small institutions often feel isolated or out to sea without a paddle because they simply have not been made aware of the resources available to them and do not have a solid local network to tap into. Even within professional groups containing a high percentage of small museums (e.g., California Association of Museums and North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative), there is more of a focus on helping cultural museums and historic buildings given the greater number of them, and much of the resources they need and use are not applicable to small natural history museums. Resources exist covering various aspects of natural history museum work, but they are limited in the scope of topics, geography, or demographics they cover. Among these are: iDigBio, covering database digitization and imaging of biological specimens; Connecting to Collections Care and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, covering collections care & management; the newly-created STEM Ecosystems, devoted to improving the engagement of US youth in non-traditional education ventures, such as through museums and science centers; social media sites such as the Paleontology Education Facebook group and MuseumPros subreddit; and NHCCN, a new but growing network of college clubs for museum studies. All of these resources and more will be introduced to attendees by the organizers, and participants will be able to share others they may know of. Attendee participation will be particularly key in assembling regional resources outside the United States.

This workshop will be divided into two parts: an initial introduction and brief overview of existing resources such as STEM Ecosystems, which currently has a group forming in New Mexico, and Connecting to Collections Care, which hosts free monthly webinars covering a variety of topics; then a serious of roundtable discussions followed by group synthesis of information shared during the workshop. This synthesis will be publicly available and updateable, and is intended as a potential stepping stone for a more cohesive online hub open to member contributions from professionals across all natural history museum subfields. It will include topics, ideas, and tips shared by participants, such as: links to other relevant networks, initiatives, and funding agencies; easy ways to improve visitor accessibility in exhibits, and low-budget programming exchanged by participants.