What is Vertebrate Paleontology SVP/Paleo Society Distinguished Lecturer Program The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology has joined the Paleontological Society to make its outstanding paleontologists available to universities, museums, and other organizations for presentations on fossils, evolution, and the nature of science. Distinguished Lecturers make their visits available on an expenses-only basis; no honorarium is required.

Instructions:  The host institution should contact speakers directly to arrange a date and title.  Hosts are expected to cover local expenses such as lodging and meals and the sponsoring society will reimburse up to $400 per visit toward a speaker’s travel at the request of the host.  Funds are limited so book speakers early.  For more information or questions about the Distinguished Lecturers Program, please contact David Polly, SVP President/Past President, at pdpolly@indiana.edu.

SVP is delighted to join the Paleontological Society in sponsoring this program.  Their five speakers are also listed below. Please contact Paleo Society directly for reimbursements for talks by the lecturers they are sponsoring.  See their web-page at http://paleosoc.org/programs/distinguished-lecturer-educator-program/

 
Larisa DeSantis
SVP Distinguished Lecturer
(North American venues only)

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Department of Biology
Research Associate, La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
Earth & Environmental Sciences
Vanderbilt University
PMB 351805
2301 Vanderbilt Place  
Nashville, TN 37235-1805
Phone: (615) 343-7831
Email: larisa.desantis@vanderbilt.edu
  Talk titles: 
  • Mammalian responses to climate change and megafaunal extinctions during the Pleistocene
  • Ancient ecology of Pleistocene predators and their prey: tales from the La Brea tar pits and beyond
  • Scratching the surface: using dental microwear textures and dietary behavior
  About Larisa:
Larisa DeSantis is a vertebrate paleontologist and paleoecologist who has worked at Vanderbilt University in Nashville since 2009.  Her research uses modern, historic, and fossil records to inform ecologists and conservation biologists about floral and faunal responses to environmental change during the Cenozoic, with a focus on mammalian communities in North America and Australia.  By integrating multiple proxy methods, including stable isotopes, 3D dental microwear texture analysis, and dental mesowear/macrowear, Larisa has helped expand the use of these tools to clarify the paleobiology of a diverse array of mammals including carnivorans, marsupials, primates (including humans), ungulates, and xenarthrans.  Her research has clarified potential drivers and consequences of megafauna extinctions, impacts of aridification and changing climates on the dietary behavior of mammals across space and time, relationships between craniodental morphology and diet, and she is currently investigating how diet and grit influence microscopic and macroscopic tooth wear in extant mammals.  When Larisa is not in the laboratory, field, or classroom, she is involved in public outreach.  As the Chair of the Education and Outreach Committee of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology she helps organize teacher workshops and established the annual Education and Outreach poster session in 2010.  She has developed educational modules to help effectively communicate the science of evolution to diverse audiences, and enjoys engaging with the public through outreach activities in conjunction with local science centers, schools, and even local movie theaters and breweries.  She hopes to improve scientific literacy while also diversifying her field through education, outreach, and mentoring in paleontology.
Additional information about Larisa is available on her website.
 
Nadia Fröbisch
SVP Distinguished Lecturer
(European venues only)

Museum für Naturkunde
Leibniz-Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science
Invalidenstraße 43
10115 Berlin
Germany
Phone: +49 30 889140-8401
Email: nadia.froebisch@mfn.berlin
  Talk titles:
  • From fossils and genes—amphibian evolution through deep time
  • The evolution of high regenerative capacities in vertebrates
  About Nadia:
Nadia Fröbisch is interested in the evolution and development of the vertebrate body plan and the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny throughout the evolutionary history of tetrapods. Her current research focuses on the evolutionary and developmental biology of amphibians. She uses an integrative approach that combines data from extant taxa and the fossil record to develop a broad perspective for the evolutionary history of amphibians through deep time. Therein, the combined study of developmental patterns and processes in crown group amphibians and fossil taxa offers the unique possibility to gain an understanding for the evolution of developmental pathways and the acquisition of the derived morphologies seen in modern forms.  She is the Deputy Head of Science Programme Evolution and Geoprocesses at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin and head of the Department Evolutionary Morphology.
 
Karen Moreno
SVP Distinguished Lecturer
(South American venues only)

Universidad Austral de Chile
Instituto de Ciencias de la Tierra, Facultad de Ciencias
Edificio Pugin oficina # 318, 3er piso
Valdivia, Chile
Phone: +56 63 222 1448
Email: karenmoreno@uach.cl
  Talk titles:
  • Dinosaurs walking: Chile during the Late Jurassic
  • Miocene mammals from northern Chile, how little we do know about their way of life
  • Developing a paleo Master’s program in a country with limited history in paleontology
  About Karen:
Karen Moreno is a paleobiologist interested on the way terrestrial vertebrates adapt to their environments. She uses a variety of approaches, like the analysis of bone internal structure, and the study of ichnites (fossil traces). She also combines anatomical and biomechanical data using computer simulations and finite element analysis. She has investigated a variety of mammals (sable tooth cat, chimp, and Notoungulates among others) and Reptiles (mainly varanids, and dinosaurs). Since she is currently the director a Master in Paleontology programme in Chile, the first and only university program focused on this subject in my country, she has also collaborated in vertebrate paleontology in a wide sense, helping MSc projects on fossil fish identification, on human evolution, and anything that the students would like to develop. Her academic career began in Chile as a biologist, then as a PhD student at Bristol University in the UK, ,including time spent at the Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, followed by postdoctoral fellowships, lecturerships, and reserarcher assistantships in Sydney Australia, Paris, and Toulouse. She is comfortable speaking in Spanish, English or French.
Additional information about Karen is available at her website.
 
Ta-Shana Taylor
Paleontological Society Distinguished Lecturer

University of Miami
Full-time Lecturer
Department of Geological Sciences
43 Cox Science Building
Coral Gables, FL 33124-0401
Phone: (305) 284-4254
Email: t.taylor2@miami.edu
  Talk titles:
  • Blind spots to diversity and inclusion in geosciences: Lessons learned from a decade of working within black communities (lecture or workshop)
  • A taphonomist’s contribution to marine mammal conservation: A case study of Phocoena sinus, the Vaquita
  • The silent dead: Intersectional conversations we’re not having about natural disasters
  About Ta-Shana:
Ta-Shana Taylor is a geoscience educator at the University of Miami, and is also a member of the Paleontological Society’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and it’s Committee for Education and Outreach. When she was conducting research, her specialty was marine mammal taphonomy of the northern Gulf of California, focusing on whether bone assemblages can provide insight to modern day conservation issues. Now she focuses on public outreach and education, mainly within black communities. While previously working within public schools and science museums, Ta-Shana developed curriculum and executed training workshops for K-12 teachers and museum educators on strategies to increase hands-on learning and gender equity within STEM. She has used science cafés to engage the general public in marine sciences, and is currently leading a community outreach effort that engages black communities in outdoor experiences and environmental advocacy. Ta-Shana is currently working on a grant that is exploring how race is reproduced in Miami, in collaboration with researchers at University of Miami in the Africana studies, literature, architecture, and cancer studies departments.
 
Yurena Yanes
Paleontological Society Distinguished Lecturer

University of Cincinnati
Assistant Professor of Geology
Department of Geology
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati OH 45221
Email: yurena.yanes@uc.edu
  Talk titles:
  • Land Snails as Paleoclimate Proxies: From Local to Global Scales
  • Environmental and Anthropogenic Drivers of Ecological Change: Lessons Learned from Land Snails
  • Integrating Archeology and Geochemistry: Tales from Shell Middens
  About Yurena:
Yurena Yanes is a Quaternary paleoecologist and paleoenvironmentalist who has worked at the University of Cincinnati since 2013. Her research seeks to better understand how humans, biological communities and the environment interact with each other. These interactions are studied at various spatial (from local to global) and temporal (paleontological, archeological and historical to present) scales. The group of organisms she uses to examine biotic-environmental-human linkages is Mollusca (primarily gastropods), which are abundant, often well preserved in the fossil and archeological record, and highly sensitive to environmental and anthropogenic stressors. She integrates data, techniques and approaches from multiple scientific disciplines including ecology, taphonomy, paleoecology, isotope geochemistry, Quaternary geochronology, archeology and the emerging field of conservation paleobiology.
Yurena has focused much of her career on studying fossil, archeological and modern land snail communities from oceanic islands and continental settings around the world, a group of organisms that are severally threatened by human impacts, and generally have received less publicity and lower scientific and conservation efforts than other major animal groups.
Yurena is native from the Canary Islands, Spain and seeks to serve as a role model for other women, immigrants and minorities (particularly Hispanic women) in STEMP fields.
 
Patricia H. Kelley
Paleontological Society Distinguished Lecturer

Patricia H. Kelley
Professor Emerita of Geology
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences
University of North Carolina Willmington
Wilmington, NC 28403-5944
Email: kelleyp@uncw.edu
  Talk titles:
  • The Arms Race from a Snail’s Perspective: Evolution of the Naticid Gastropod Predator-Prey System
  • Why We Need Conservation Paleobiology: Just Ask Johnny Depp
  • Evolution and Creation: Conflicting or Compatible?
  • Teaching Evolution with Integrity and Sensitivity
 

About Patricia:
Patricia Kelley is a Centennial Fellow and a past president of the Paleontological Society. In 2014 she received the United States Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year award, the nation’s highest honor given to faculty for teaching excellence. As a Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Kelley seeks to bridge the divide between acknowledgment — even celebration — of the reality of evolution and beliefs maintained by the great religious traditions. She is eager to participate in workshops designed for teachers, public lectures and research seminars.
Dr. Kelley’s scientific research focuses on the evolution and paleoecology of Cenozoic molluscs from the southeastern United States. She is especially interested in predator-prey interactions and their role in the evolution of strategies that are employed by snails to capture prey and by clams and snails to avoid predation.

Caroline A.E. Strömberg
Paleontological Society Distinguished Lecturer

Univ. of Washington
Estella B. Leopold Associate Professor of Biology & Curator of Paleobotany
Biology Department & Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
University of Washington
Seattle WA 98195
Email: caestrom@u.washington.edu
  Talk titles:
  • Neo-ecology meets deep time: Reconstructing plant paleo-niches in the Late Cretaceous of Wyoming
  • The past is the key to the present: Using fossil plant silica to reconstruct the Cenozoic assembly of Earth’s grassland ecosystems
  • Dinosaur coprolites and the early evolution of grasses and grass-eaters
  About Caroline:
Caroline Strömberg is paleobotanist and paleoecologist who has worked at University of Washington, Seattle since 2008. Her research seeks broadly to understand the role that plants played in the deep-time assembly of our modern ecosystems. In particular, she has focused on elucidating the evolution of grass-dominated ecosystems, which currently occupy 40% of Earth’s land surface and provide key agricultural products (cereals, corn, and rice). By using a previously largely untapped fossil record of vegetation in the form of plant silica (phytoliths), Caroline has addressed questions regarding the origin and early diversification of the grass family (Poaceae), the Cenozoic spread of grass-dominated habitats, and the presumed co-evolution of grasses and horses and other large mammalian herbivores. Her research involves fieldwork in Cretaceous and Cenozoic deposits on several continents (e.g., North and South America, Eurasia).
In addition, Caroline is working with colleagues on a uniquely preserved Late Cretaceous ashfall macroflora in central Wyoming. Collaborating with a modern ecologist, they are applying neo-ecological modeling approaches to understand the ecological niche(s) that flowering plants occupied in Late Cretaceous ecosystems prior to their rise to ecological dominance.
Michal Kowalewski
Paleontological Society Distinguished Lecturer

Florida Museum of Natural History
Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology
Florida Museum of Natural History
University of Florida
1659 Museum Road
Gainesville, FL, 32611
Email: kowalewski@ufl.edu
  Talk titles:
  • Fossils, Strata, and Dates Come Together: Stratigraphic Paleobiology of Sedimentary Basins
  • Evolutionary History of Prey: 600 million Years of Predator-Prey Interactions in Earth’s Oceans
  • Quantifying the Quality of the Fossil Record: Paleontological Data Are to Die for
  • Tales Told by Dead Shells: Paleobiological Approaches to Historical Ecology and Conservation
  About Michal:
Michal Kowalewski is an invertebrate paleontologist interested in ecology, evolution and taphonomy of marine benthic communities. He integrates paleontological, geological, and ecological data to study past ecosystems over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. His current projects span multiple continents, habitat types, and time-intervals, but his primary focus is on late Quaternary mollusks. He is particularly interested in using fossil data to assist in monitoring and restoration of marine habitats impacted by human activities. Michal’s didactic and mentoring activities center on guiding graduate students and post-doctoral researcher toward developing successful professional careers in academic and non-academic settings. He teaches workshops on quantitative methods in paleontology and summer field courses for graduate students. Over his career Michal served as a chair of the Paleontological Society Student Research Grants program, editor of Paleobiology, and chair of the organizing committee for the 2014 North American Paleontological Convention.