26 October 2013

Off to GSA

Posted by Callan Bentley

This morning I’m on a flight to Denver, for the 125th anniversary annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

The annual GSA meeting is a special time of year for me, and for many geology professionals across the country. It’s an intense half-week of talks, sharing, learning, networking, hanging out with old friends, meeting new friends, getting inspired, and hopefully inspiring others. It’s a time to mentor our best students as they present their research, hang out with alumni of our various almae matres, to get together and meet with various organizations (for me: NAGT, Geo2YC, LRRD, Pearson), and start concocting collaborations for the future. It’ll be a great opportunity for me to catch up with folks like Steve Gough, Joshua Villalobos, and Tiffany Rivera. There a gazillion billion people besides those three I’m looking forward to seeing, and it would be folly to try and list them all. Geology’s full of awesome people doing great stuff, and I can’t wait to immerse my mind in the tales of their productivity and insight.

As soon as I arrive today, it’s off to a short course on student success at two-year colleges. Later tonight, I’ve got a meeting with the GEODE team for a project launch. This is our $2-million-granted initiative (thank you, NSF!) to revolutionize digital geology resources over the next 4 years.

At 1:15pm tomorrow (on Sunday), I’ll be doing my first presentation. It’s in the community college success session, and the talk is on how collaborations have made my annual summer Rockies field course (with Pete Berquist of Thomas Nelson Community College) a big success. Here’s the abstract. My colleague at NOVA-Annandale, Shelley Jaye, is giving a talk in the same session.

Also on Sunday, I’m also third author on a poster (with Declan De Paor (Old Dominion University) and Steve Whitmeyer (James Madison University)) on the subject of GEODE.

On Monday, I’ll be part of the “Digital Geology Express” digital poster session, which picks up where last year’s “Digital Geology Speed Dating” left off. This time, I’m a convener of the session, along with Declan and Steve. But I’m also presenting. Not only that, but my student Robin Rohrback-Schiavone (operator extraordinaire of the GIGAmacro rig) will be part of the presentational ensemble this year. Last year, she was a participant. …Moving up in the world!

I’ve prepared a video preview of what Robin and Bill Richards (North Idaho College) and I will be talking about on Monday afternoon:


This video is silent and about 6 minutes long. It’s intended to “loop” all morning at the digital poster site (hence the decision to keep it on the quiet side), and offer a preview of what’s to come later that afternoon, when the authors will be there to share their insights. If you haven’t explored GigaPans and 123D Catch in any detail until now, hopefully it will whet your appetite.

Robin’s pal and another bright light in the NOVA-Annandale geology student population, Mercer Parker, will be presenting his research on the petrology of the deepest samples from the USGS’s drill core into the heart of the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater. While I’m waving the NOVA flag, let me also mention that a planetary geologist at the Smithsonian, Michelle Selvans, who is also an adjunct instructor at the Alexandria campus of NOVA, will be presenting a poster on the relationship between “extraterrestrial activities” and critical thinking in the physical geology classroom. And Robin will be back on stage Tuesday, delivering a M.A.G.I.C.al talk in the “Cyberinformatics and Technology” session.

It’s going to be a great conference. I’m staying with my friends Greg and Heather in Denver, and on top of everything else, I’m looking forward to hanging out with them and their cats. Beer will almost certainly be involved: Greg’s a homebrewer and craft beer aficionado. In fact, I suspect that, Greg or no Greg, I’ll be able to indulge in a fair suite of fun beers while in Denver.

While all of this is great and awesome and will be so satisfying to experience, I must say that conferences now come with a dose of guilt and heartache, too – leaving my family for five days in a row is going to be really tough. I’m going to miss them, and the lovely autumn trees of the Fort Valley at their peak color, quite a lot.