In early April, my lab group and I attended a conference that was specifically for people who work with microfossils- fossils so small, you need a microscope to see and identify them. These fossils are so important because we use them in the oil industry and in research to tell time. At this meeting, which was hosted by the North American Micropaleontology Society, there were about 200 attendees from both universities and oil companies. The meeting, which is held every 4 years in Houston, TX, is unique in that it is one of the only meetings held in North America specifically for micropaleontologists.
All of our lab group presented posters of our research. In addition to presenting, I also attended two workshops. The first was hosted at Chevron, and focused on identifying different types of microfossils in thin sections. Thin sections are very thin slices of rocks that have been polished and glued to a glass slide so that scientists can identify what fossils are in the rock when looked at under a microscope. The second workshop was about how fossils and animals respond to changes in sea level, and how that would look in the fossil record.
There were several highlights of the meeting. First, it was great to catch up with previous members of our lab, as well as talk with colleagues and friends we haven’t seen in a long time. Second, I made some new friends, one of which will be sailing with me this summer in the Tasman Sea. But probably the best part of the meeting was the dinner held in the Houston Museum of Natural History. The meeting planners (two of which I’m proud to say are alumni of our lab group) arranged for UMass’s own climate modeler, Rob DeConto, to give the keynote lecture in the museum after dinner. Rob gave a fantastic talk about ice melting on Greenland and Antarctica, with some compelling new data that indicates that sea level will rise drastically if we do not curb our emissions quickly.