Reflections After the 2016 Annual Meeting

Author's note: The following article originated as a Facebook status update after the annual meeting in Salt Lake City. It is a little more navel-gazey than I usually post here, but I think it's important to do that every once in awhile, too!

Well, it's the end to another SVP. If there is any feeling I have after this year's conference, it is optimism. Optimism for the future of the field, and optimism for the futures of many of my friends and colleagues in the field.

For one, it seems that real, substantive change is underway across our discipline. On the publishing front, open access is here to stay and more broadly used than ever before. So much amazing work is being published in open access journals, and the overall feeling towards open access is positive. Recognition of "alternate" career paths (i.e., the career paths that a significant number--perhaps even a majority--of paleontologists take) is increasing, and support for such people is expanding. The Women in Science social was an amazing event to attend, and I am inspired to be a better colleague. The positive ripples of that social were tangible across the meeting. It also warmed my heart to see an increasing number of outreach efforts for people in rural communities--as someone from a rural area myself, it means a lot. We have work to do yet, but it feels like there is real movement in so many areas.

Additionally, many dear friends and colleagues are experiencing successes in their lives and in their careers. One friend who has had some real struggles had a phenomenal field season with a major field team and I hope got a good boost of confidence from that experience. Several friends landed permanent jobs, finished that Ph.D., or got an amazing postdoc. One person who had an incredibly rough year in their grad program is now at a much better situation. Many friends and colleagues were honored at the award banquet, and it was so cool to see years of hard work pay off for them in a very public way.

I won't pretend that the future for all of us will be trouble-free, and I certainly had visits with friends and colleagues who are having rough patches. I hope that they all feel the support of their colleagues, because they do have it. The feeling of community was strong for me this year.

So, safe travels home to all that were here in SLC, we missed those of you who couldn't make it, and I'll look forward to seeing many of you again soon!

--Dr. Andy Farke is the Augustyn Family Curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California.
Posted: 11/4/2016 12:10:12 PM by andyfarkeadmin | with 0 comments
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