2021 Nominee – Secretary

Caenagnathid theropod metatarsals, photo credit: Thomas Holtz

2021 Nominee – Secretary

Samantha Hopkins

Dept of Earth Sciences
Univ of Oregon

I am happy to be nominated for a second term as Secretary of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. I have been a member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and a regular attendee at meetings since 1999. My research centers around the evolution of ecology in mammals. I examine these questions from both neontological and paleontological perspectives, combining phylogenetic comparative methods with geological fieldwork and taxonomy with biogeography. I am interested in the influence of biotic, climatic, and tectonic change on mammalian evolution, looking at how the diversity of mammals responds to external forcing and how those responses are constrained by ecology and evolutionary process. While my personal taxonomic interests are primarily focused on small mammals, I have worked on a variety of mammalian clades in tackling evolutionary problems. My fieldwork and most of my research interests are focused in the mid-Cenozoic, the Oligocene and Miocene, although my work in recent years has increasingly incorporated the entire course of the past 40 million years. My field interests are focused on evolution of mammals in active landscapes, so I have worked in the Cenozoic of Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Kyrgyzstan. In those assemblages, I have trained both undergraduate and graduate students in field methods while building datasets of fossil mammals with tight stratigraphic and geographic constraint from which to understand ecological evolution. Many of these students are now active members of SVP, often serving on the Student and Postdoc Liaison Committee and other committees in the society.

I have served on several committees with SVP, including the Government Affairs and Program Committees, where I saw both the breadth of scientific work we were conducting as a society, but also the work needed to help maintain our relationship with our collaborators in state and national government, as well as connections with remediation work. My work as Secretary of the Society for the last three years has given me a view into all aspects of the Society’s work, particularly as we have changed society management companies from FASEB to MCI and worked with the Executive Committee on the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the National Monument litigation. I am also happy to bring my experience from service on the Geological Society of America’s Diversity Committee from 2010-2013. SVP has made great strides in recent years in Equity and Inclusion work, and I hope to continue working with the Executive Committee to continue these efforts to make our Society a more welcoming place for paleontologists from among those groups that are currently underrepresented in paleontology. I would be happy to serve another term as Secretary of SVP in order to be a part of helping SVP support including all of us in the pursuit of paleontological science.