Field Training Award

Theropod trackway, Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite, Wyoming, photo credit: Thomas Holtz

Field Training Award

The SVP Field Training Award is intended to support undergraduate and graduate students, early career paleontologists, preparators, land managers with responsibility for paleontological resources and others in vertebrate paleontology-related positions who can demonstrate a need for field training and the benefits of field training to their professional development in vertebrate paleontology. The recipient will actively participate in fieldwork and receive hands-on training from an experienced paleontologist or preparator. The SVP Field Training Award arises from a proposal for an SVP award honoring Mike Getty, Chief Preparator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, who suddenly passed away on September 11th, 2017, at the age of 50, while excavating a ceratopsian skull in Denver. Mike applied his extensive skill set and knowledge of field techniques to survey and excavate a number of important vertebrate fossil specimens and taught countless volunteers, fellow preparators, students, and early-career paleontologists, passing on the techniques he himself so successfully applied in the field. The Field Training Award also honours all individuals who have contributed to field programmes and the preparation of fossils over the years providing the data that drives our profession and understanding of past environments and life.

Nationally there are only a few courses that provide training in vertebrate fossil field techniques and most courses are restricted to students who are registered at the college offering the course. The SVP Field Training Award fills the niche of field training needs in vertebrate paleontology. Promoting and encouraging field training from experienced paleontologists will lead to the conservation of vertebrate fossils and the advancement of research. This award also reflects the Society’s mission to “support and encourage the discovery, conservation, and protection of vertebrate fossils and fossil sites”.

DESCRIPTION OF GRANT PROGRAM
The grant aims to provide funding in the first instance, of $1,500 for one applicant per cycle. The award amount is intended as a stipend to cover expenses for the applicant to participate in fieldwork and field training. The award amount must be spent on the proposed project within two years of the date of award. If further funds are raised for this award in the coming years, the award amount may be increased or an additional award may be offered.

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY
Eligible applicants include undergraduate and graduate students, early career paleontologists, preparators, land managers with responsibility for paleontological resources and others in vertebrate paleontology-related positions who can demonstrate a need for field training and the benefits of field training to their professional development in vertebrate paleontology. We particularly encourage applications from minority ethnic or people of color that are historically and currently underrepresented in vertebrate paleontology, and applications that focus on inclusion and accessibility to field training for individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Further Eligibility Requirements:

  • Current membership in the Society for both applicant and mentor is required.
  • A minimum of one week of training in the field is preferred.
  • Previous grantees are not eligible.

HOW TO APPLY:

Applicants are required to identify a field mentor for their project and are encouraged to work with the mentor to deliver a realistic training proposal. The award may be used by the applicant towards financing travel and/or equipment, providing an opportunity for our members who have financial difficulties to gain the fieldwork training otherwise unavailable to them. We would be able to help match applicants with potential mentors in order to increase representation and encourage applicants from programmes where mentors might not be readily identifiable (see below).

The applicant will need to submit:

  • A one-page maximum description of the proposed project including a summary of the techniques in which the applicant will be trained.
  • A one-page maximum description of how the award will advanced the applicant’s field skills and professional development and/or career aspirations in vertebrate paleontology.
  • A budget detailing how the award funds will be spent.
  • A two-page maximum Curriculum vitae
  • A letter of support from a member of SVP in good standing commenting on the suitability of the candidate and the benefits of the award to the applicant. The reference must state that the applicant adheres to the standards of behaviour described in the SVP Code of Conduct.

The mentor will need to submit:

  • A letter of support, clearly stating: (i) how the mentor will support the applicant and their proposal and provide appropriate field training; (ii) outlining health and safety regulations that are in place and that these regulations will be adhered to by the mentor and the applicant; (iii) that appropriate collecting permits are secured and that the work adheres to the SVP Bylaws, Article 12, Code of Ethics; (iv) that they abide and uphold the standards of behaviour described in the SVP Code of Conduct.
  • A two-page Curriculum vitae emphasizing field experience and previous mentorship experience.

MENTORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
We recognise that many institutions do not have members specialising in vertebrate paleontology field work. We do not want this to be a barrier for interested applicants, so we will be able to help match applicants with potential mentors in order to increase representation. Individuals who have an opportunity to mentor a potential applicant are encouraged to provide information to the Award Committee. A call to membership will be issued when the awards process opens each year. The committee reserves the right to exclude potential mentors from this list if they feel that the interested researcher is not a good fit for this role.