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October 04, 2008

Hanging out with rock scientists

Later today I fly to Houston [1] to participate in the Geological Society of America (GSA)'s 2008 annual meeting [2]. The conference itself is huge, with attendance easily in the thousands. Over the past few weeks, it's amused me to no end all the advertisements for the latest spectrographic rock analyzer that I've gotten in the mail. It's almost like being a real scientist, or something.

Anyway, I'm going to present my work on models of species body size evolution at the "Paleontology I - Macroevolution, Diversity, and Biogeography" session. I guess rocks and fossils are close enough that it fits. The talk will be short, but I'm going to try to cover not just my work that appeared in Science with Doug Erwin, but also my more recent work on birds and the diversification of mammals 70 million years ago.

I'm very much looking forward to the conference: it'll be an opportunity to interact with scientists who are very focused on understanding the incredibly complex history of life on this planet, and to learn about new and interesting mysteries (to me, at least). With any luck, I'll come back with new colleagues I can talk to about things like the origin of diversity, the importance of extinction events to fundamental innovation (a topic that relates to technological innovations, too), etc. With any luck, I'll also come back with some new ideas to work on.


[1] The conference center is in downtown Houston, which is where a lot of damage from Hurricane Ike happened, so it'll also be interesting to see how well Houston has recovered. Earlier this summer, I spent a week in New Orleans, and it was eye opening to see both how much and how little recovery has been done there, even two years after Hurricane Katrina.

[2] To get a discount on the conference fees, I signed up to be an official member of the GSA. Thankfully, there was not pre-requisite that I own a rock hammer, or have a rock collection at home! At various points now, I've been a member of professional organizations in physics, computer science, biology, political science, and geology... yow.

posted October 4, 2008 09:59 AM in Self Referential | permalink