SVP 68th Annual Meeting Summary
Oct. 15-18, 2008
More than 1,100 SVP members and friends convened at the SVP 68th Annual Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio from October 15 -18, 2008. Co-hosted by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Case-Western University, the meeting was a wonderful success due to the efforts of the host committee, chaired by Darin Croft and Mike Ryan.
Thanks to all of you!
This meeting was enhanced by three special events and the launching of our video, entitled “WE ARE SVP” narrated by long-time star of LAW & ORDER, Sam Waterston. First, Neil Shubin (University of Chicago) presented a fascinating lecture on the discovery of Tiktaalik on Tuesday night at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
This was followed on Thursday evening by a beautifully illustrated presentation by renowned nature photographer Franz Lanting, on the making of his amazing book entitled, Life : a Journey Through Time. Finally, on Saturday, there was an excellent mini-symposium on “Global Climate Change: Past and Future” that featured three eminent scientists, one of our own, Elizabeth Hadly (Stanford University), and two from outside the society, Thure Cerling (University of Utah) and Jack Williams (University of Wisconsin).
This symposium was the first of what we hope will be a regular feature of our meetings in which we invite scientists from adjacent fields to speak on topics of mutual interest.
The “WE ARE SVP” video highlights who we are and what we do and was available for viewing throughout the meeting in the coffee break area and was a big hit. The video was produced by three of our members (Steven Cohen, Louis Jacobs, and Lou Taylor) in collaboration with Shade Tree Studios of Dallas, Texas, whose founder, Ray Marr, generously donated all of the videographer and editing time to SVP. The video is intended to be used as both an outreach and development tool for the society.
In addition to these added attractions, the meeting included four topical symposia that spanned an array of subjects, from early vertebrates, brain endocasts, ancient fish and human evolution. There were workshops on evolution education, communicating with the media, preparation techniques, and publishing tips, as well as field trips to classic vertebrate fossil localities in the Cleveland shale formation, the renowned physical anthropology lab of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the fossils of downtown Cleveland. All of the symposia, field trips and workshops were highlighted in the 2008 Annual Meeting Second Circular.
Of course, the main foci of the meeting are the terrific regular session scientific presentations and exchanging information with fellow paleontologists. 640 oral and poster presentations, were presented over the course of four days and cataloged in the SVP Annual Meeting Program and Abstract Book. The exchange of information was enhanced by a series of well-attended social events including the welcome reception at the Cleveland Museum, the student roundtable and reprint exchange, the auction, awards banquet (link) and after-hours dance-till-you-drop party. The auction was a resounding success, with Brent Breithaupt as Indiana Jones and his hard-working committee leading the charge and raising $21,382.00 for the Field and Topical Conference Fund.
Highlights of the Annual Business Meeting included the announcement of the SVP Program to Support Scientists from Economically Developing Nations, which will award travel grants to scientists from economically developing nations so that they can attend the annual meeting, and the upcoming SVP sponsored workshop on Asian Biochronology in China. Mike Benton (University of Bristol) presented an exciting preview of next year’s annual meeting in Bristol, England and the associated field trips.
This promises to be a great meeting - the first time SVP will meet outside North America and it is the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. The business meeting was capped by the handing over of the reins from outgoing President Catherine Badgley to incoming President Blaire Van Valkenburgh. Other new Executive Committee members were also recognized – Phil Currie takes over from Blaire as Vice President and Julia Clarke replaced David Polly as Member-at-Large.
See you in Bristol in 2009!