The recent election for the two Member-at-Large positions on the Executive Committee (the governing body of the Society) has concluded. We received 529 votes (approximately 35% of the membership) and we can announce that Paul Koch (University of California, Santa Cruz) has been elected as Member-at-Large; and Lindsay Zanno (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences/North Carolina State University) has been elected as Member-at-Large (ethics). Congratulations to both and we look forward to working with you on the Executive Committee!
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a set of proposed ‘Conservation and Landscape Health’ rules for public comment (RIN 1004-AE92): https://www.regulations.gov/document/BLM-2023-0001-0001. Because some fundamental components of the proposed rules appear to be inconsistent with the U.S. Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009 as well as BLM’s traditional philosophy as written, SVP requested BLM for clarification, along with some requests if the rules were to be implemented. For SVP’s submitted comment letter, click HERE.
SVP urges select 146 U.S. House Representatives and Senators to appropriate earmarked funds for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Forest Service) and Department of the Interior to enact the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009. For more information, click HERE.
SVP is pleased that the proposed Utah H.B. 396, which SVP initially opposed on February 22, 2023, has developed into adequate legislation while also taking into account input from SVP membership. For a full version of the new SVP statement, click HERE.
The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) was signed into law in the U.S. in 2009. It allows land management agencies to manage, preserve, and protect fossil resources on Federal (public) land using scientific principles and expertise. The regulations or ‘rules’ of the law for the Department of Agriculture Forest Service went into effect in 2015. SVP is pleased to announce that the rules for the Department of the Interior (43 CFR Part 49), which consists of four agencies (Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Fish and Wildlife Service), officially became installed on August 2, 2022.
SVP played a key role in the development of PRPA from the original bill drafting stage and through the establishment of the rules, providing professional guidance to our federal partners through public comment periods. SVP thanks many of its members, including those in its Government Affairs Committee, as well as its federal partners, for their efforts and support spanning the past 20+ years. SVP looks forward to continuing its partnership with the federal agencies to enhance the management, preservation, and protection as well as education and scientific research of vertebrate fossils from U.S. public lands under PRPA. In the coming months, SVP will be disseminating PRPA-related information via its website.
SVP now offers discounted membership dues pricing for residents of countries ranked below 0.85 on the UN Human Development Index. This means that individuals in “Developing Countries” pay just 18% of Regular and Student membership dues, and individuals in “Middle HDI Countries” pay just 36% of the Regular and Student dues. Click here for complete information and be sure to share this information with your colleagues and friends to get the word out!
The recent election for the offices of Vice President, Member-at-Large, Member-at-Large (ethics), and Treasurer has concluded. We received 491 votes (approximately 38% of the membership) and we can announce that Stuart Sumida (California State University San Bernardino) has been elected as Vice-President; Zerina Johanson (National History Museum) has been elected as Member-at-Large; and Taissa Rodrigues (Federal University of Espírito Santo) has been elected as Member-at-Large (ethics). Ted Vlamis was re-elected to the position of Treasurer. Congratulations to all!
The Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite in Utah, USA, that features early Cretaceous dinosaur footprints were damaged recently during boardwalk repair work. SVP issued the following two letters demanding answers concerning the damage:
SVP demands answers concerning the damage to the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite in Utah, USA (Letter 1)
SVP demands answers concerning the damage to the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite in Utah, USA (Letter 2)
The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is pleased to announce the winner of the first annual Futures Award, Sun Tun. Sun is a rising senior at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA majoring in Geology and working with Professors Kristi Curry Rogers and Ray Rogers. He was first exposed to and fell in love with geology and paleontology when he took courses on these topics early in his undergraduate degree program, and he credits the professors who taught these courses with showing him that he could have a career in these fields. Through his work, he hopes to make paleontology more accessible to people from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds like himself. In addition to geoscience, he is passionate about improving education systems and does paleoart in his free time.
The Futures Award will allow Sun to work full time on the research that will form the basis of his senior honors thesis at Macalester College. More specifically, Sun is investigating diversity in an ancient Cretaceous community preserved in 75 million-year-old rocks from Montana through an analysis of preserved eggshell fragments. So far, he has recovered and studied hundreds of miniscule sub-millimeter-scale pieces of eggshell that preserve a remarkable diversity of egg-laying animals. Capturing this sort of hidden diversity allows him and his collaborators to reconstruct the inner workings of ancient terrestrial ecosystems, and documents the presence of huge egg-laying dinosaurs (including birds), in addition to crocodiles, turtles, and lizards. This work helps to contextualize the nature of terrestrial communities prior to the global mass extinction that ended the Cretaceous Period.
Sun was part of a highly competitive inaugural cohort of Futures Award applicants. The committee decided to award Honorable Mentions to two other applicants, Ana Velasquez at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA and Derek Mena Godoy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA. SVP is providing free student memberships and free meeting registration to Ana and Derek. In honor of the first year of the Futures Award, two anonymous donors have supported free student memberships for all other applicants from this year’s cycle.
Support the SVP Futures Award!
The Futures Award represents an investment in the future of SVP, and it would not be possible without the support of the many donors who contributed to the initial launch of this award in 2020 and to the Extending the Hammer fundraising campaign in 2019. This campaign is ongoing as we raise funds to fully support this award in perpetuity and expand it to support more undergraduate researchers in future years. Please consider donating to this important new program, which supports summer undergraduate research projects in vertebrate paleontology by students who identify as members of an underrepresented ethnic minority or people of color. Funds provide a competitive stipend and research costs, including travel for fieldwork. The impressive applicant pool for this first year of the Futures Award demonstrates the great need for funding promising student researchers. We were able to fund only one award this year, but with your support, we will be able to expand this award to offer multiple awards in future years. Please donate generously to help us reach our goal of raising $50,000 in 2021 so that we can continue to support and grow this new program, inspire new student researchers, and make our international society more diverse and inclusive.
Based on SVP’s Ad Hoc Myanmar Working Group’s recommendations, SVP sent a LETTER
to over 60 paleontological organizations that highlights the ongoing issue in Myanmar and its wider impact, including scientific research, with the following three main points:
- The situation in Myanmar has deteriorated significantly, following the 1 February 2021 military coup.
- Due to the coup, SVP suggests a hard moratorium on the publication of all fossil specimens in amber obtained from sources in Myanmar after January 2021.
- SVP is reviewing its previous moratorium on publication of amber specimens acquired after June 2017 and is in the process of updating guidelines.
SVP hopes that the entire paleontological community will work collaboratively to take any and all actions that might mitigate the violence and human rights abuses in Myanmar. Additional information and resources are available here (see ‘MYANMAR AMBER RESOURCES’).
Besides the SVP Myanmar Working Group, the Executive Committee thanks the SVP’s Business Office as well as the following SVP committees for their assistance on this matter: Communications, Publications, and Government Affairs committees.