Education and advocacy to improve ethics, standards, and practices in paleontology
The Association for Materials & Methods in Paleontology (AMMP) is pleased to announce the candidates for the 2018 election for the positions of President, Secretary and two Member-at-Large (a single year term and one two year term) to serve as part of the Board of Directors. Please be aware that when voting for Member-at-large you will be able to vote for two candidates. The candidate with the most votes will be elected for the two year term; the runner up will hold the one year term.
The position descriptions are as follows:
Voting will be held by electronic ballot starting April 16th and ending April 27th at 5 pm CDT.
The President shall serve for a term of two years, be chairperson of the Board of Directors, shall preside at meetings of the Association and shall have the powers and duties usually pertaining to such office with the exception of those assigned by the Constitution to the Board of Directors.
The Secretary shall be responsible for ensuring that the minutes of the Board of Directors and General Business Meetings are recorded. The Secretary shall be responsible for maintaining a current list of members’ names, contact information, and relevant information as the Board sees fit and shall act as liaison between the Board of Directors and the Membership Committee.
Two Members-at-large shall each serve for a term of two years, represent the general membership on the Board, attend all AMMP Board meetings and assist the Board as requested. (Please note that one of this year’s Members-at-large will be filling a one year term to stagger future elections of the two positions.)
Members in good standing are eligible and encouraged to vote.
I began working in paleontology as a college student in 1989 at the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University. There I learned many of the basics of fossil preparation, molding and casting, etc. Being a relatively young collection, I saw specimens go from field to lab to publication, and learned the important role that preparators play in the science of paleontology. For the past fifteen years, my work has been mainly in paleo exhibit fabrication. I’ve been a staff member in a small museum and in a huge museum, and have served as an independent contractor servicing both sizes and those in between, and have been a staff member (preparator/lab manager) of a university earth sciences department. I’m currently employed at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle. My work can be seen on exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies, Sheridan College, University of California Museum of Paleontology, Museum of the North (UA Fairbanks), Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian (coming soon!), and other institutions.
Reasons for Running
I was surprised to be asked about nomination for the presidency AMMP, as in my involvement with it so far, I feel like I’ve gained more from it than I’ve given to it, and I’ve not served on the board in any capacity. AMMP is becoming an important voice in the paleontology community. I see two main themes that have been the thrust of the organization - the need for some standardization of best practices, and the desire to professionalize our profession in pursuit of improved job security and compensation.
I envision the role of AMMP president as one of stewardship, in which the membership is largely the force driving the direction of the organization, and the president is tasked with collecting input, distilling and focusing ideas, and offering strategies to progress in that direction. I would expect to rely on the other officers, the various committee members, and the membership as a whole for their continual input. I am very wary of unilateral action (by the president or the board) and believe that total transparency is crucial to a successful organization. Essentially, I would prefer to represent the organization rather than to direct it, as I prefer a more democratic approach. As president, my aim would be to help AMMP further develop and refine its purpose, move closer to its goals, and help it grow.
Marilyn Fox is the Chief Preparator in the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (YPM). At YPM, she is responsible for fossil preparation, molding and casting, running the VP field program to teach undergraduate and graduate students field methods, and conservation of the collections. She also teaches a methods class called Practical Paleontology that covers aspects of paleontology such as permitting, field methods, collections care and preparation. She has been involved with AMMP since its inception. As AMMP’s first Vice President, she undertook the role of (Acting) President in 2015 after the retirement of Jim McCabe, AMMP’s first President.
Reasons for Running
I am interested both in exploring new methods and materials and in educating others about preparation. The field of preparation benefits most when knowledge is shared. AMMP’s stated goals of open communication and high standards are my goals as well. As Secretary, I would work to increase the transparency of Board communication with the membership, increase member input into AMMP activities, and work to enlarge the presence of AMMP within the paleontological community.
Georgia, a mitigation paleontologist, is a Paleontology Lead and Project Manager at SWCA Environmental Consultants in Sheridan, Wyoming. She received a Bachelor's of Science in Geology from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and her Master's in Geosciences from the University of Iowa. She has over twenty years of experience with paleontological surveys, excavations, and fossil preparation. As a principal Paleontologist with SWCA, Ms. Knauss’ responsibilities include project management, coordination, organization, and implementation of paleontological field projects including surveys, monitoring, excavations, preparation, and pre-curation; development and implementation of paleontological mitigation plans; analysis of fossils, field data, literature, and museum locality data; preparation of technical reports and NEPA documents for projects throughout the western United States. She was instrumental in writing a best practices in mitigation paleontology paper, which covers all aspects of mitigation paleontology including the importance of documenting how fossils are handled from the initial find through field stabilization, collection, transportation, preparation, and curation. In 2017 she joined SWCA’s Science Leadership Program Board and is responsible for scheduling speakers for weekly company brownbag, as well as, notifying all 800+ employees about these events. The brownbag series provides an opportunity for company scientists and non-scientists across the country to connect through the sharing and discussion of methods, efficiencies, issues, and scientific topics. Currently, she also serves as secretary on the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) board at her six year old daughter’s elementary school. At least once a month the PTO has an event with the ultimate goal of encouraging parent-child interactions and further enriching the current students educational experience.
Reasons for Running
AMMP is a wonderful community of very talented and passionate individuals which I would be honored to assist to gather and disseminate information on the best practices of preparation, stabilization, and other paleontological methods. I strive to connect individuals with sources of information and ideas (particularly scientific) that they may not be aware even exist. As a mitigation paleontologist I bring a different aspect of paleontological methods to the board, and believe that my experiences would be an asset to the community. I feel I could also learn much from the other members of the AMMP board and the community as a whole, which I could use to benefit other organizations and communities in the future.
Mike Eklund’s interest in paleontology began as a youth growing up in the midwest with family day trips to collect Mazon Creek fossils and regular visits to The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Undergraduate work in forensic accounting and auditing then the CPA exam brought a complimentary perspective to the investigative and documentation requirements of modern scientific work. Beginning in 2001, training in fossil preparation and field-work at The Field Museum proved to be a world-class education. Currently, a Research Associate at The University of Texas, Jackson School of Geosciences and consultant with ThinbklabZ, Mike’s research is in developing better methods for recognizing, preparing and documenting the highest level of detail and information in paleontological specimens. The last few years have seen most of Mike’s fossil preparation focus on soft-tissue work and educating others on better paleo tactics. When not on the road visiting research institutions, Mike can usually be found in Bozeman playing in the mountains with his daughters and the family critters.
Reasons for Running
At one of the early fossil preparation conferences, a paleontology curator from a major institution made an observation about the fossil preparation community and described us as very like a “guild” due to the specialized nature of the knowledge and skills required. That compliment feels like it summarized well the nature of our membership and the knowledge we collectively develop and share. As an educational and networking organization, AMMP is an extremely valuable resource for all of us. As many of the AMMP membership know, education and training within the community has been and continues to be a high priority for me. AMMP has a relatively small but diverse membership with generally limited financial resources and travel opportunities. I am interested in serving the AMMP membership as member-at-large because I am fortunate to consistently see a broad cross-section of the paleo labs/collections and their staffs in the course of my regular work travel. This allows me to be in touch with and in turn, hopefully represent well the broad needs and opinions of the general AMMP membership. The AMMP organization is membership driven. We need to make sure everybody has a voice as all opinions have an important place in this association and in the science.
Lee Hall began his foray into paleontology in 2000 as a volunteer for the Museum of the Rockies. From 2005 to 2011 he was a MOR Crew Chief responsible for running research camps and excavations. Lee earned a Bachelor’s of Science with a focus in Paleontology from Montana State University, and from 2011 to 2015 he was a Mitigation Paleontologist in Los Angeles, CA. During this time he researched, surveyed, and monitored infrastructure projects for paleontological resources throughout California and Nevada, and coauthored twenty seven technical reports. Lee is the Preparator for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Department of Vertebrate Paleontology where he manages the fossil preparation lab and its volunteers. He conducts fieldwork locally in Devonian shales and abroad in Alberta, Canada with the Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project. He and his wife Ashley reside happily in Cleveland, Ohio, with two black cats, a hognose snake, and brown tarantula.
Reasons for Running
The first time I attended an annual meeting of the Association for Materials and Methods in Paleontology, I was blown away. Here was a tightly-knit community of paleontologists united by their desire to improve their profession through friendly collaboration. The competitive bravado and showmanship seen at larger research-based conferences was nowhere to be found. Instead, I saw a culture of doers and learners who were passionate about their fields and united by a common desire to share what they knew and improve upon what they didn’t. I knew right then I was in the right place. There are many research-based organizations for paleontology around the globe, but there are far fewer societies devoted to the care and conservation of the fossils used for that research. This is no trivial distinction, and I believe it shows that AMMP is a unique and invaluable resource for paleontologists. As an AMMP Member at Large, I would be proud to serve as a representative for my colleagues. It is my wish to help ensure that our society continues to prosper, learn, and share for our benefit and that of our posterity.
Joshua Lively is a PhD candidate at The University of Texas at Austin. He is currently researching the evolution of mosasaurs in the North American Western Interior Seaway for his dissertation. Josh earned his BS in geology from Auburn University and his MS from the University of Utah. During his time at Texas and Utah, Josh spent thousands of hours working in collections and preparation labs, gaining experience in both mechanical and acid prep, and learning best practices for the collection, preparation, and curation of fossil vertebrates. Josh is currently helping digitize fossils from the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway in both the invertebrate and vertebrate paleo collections at Texas. He has over eight years of field experience conducting permitted work on public lands in the western US. His ultimate career goal is to be a museum curator or university professor. Josh currently lives in Round Rock, TX with his wife, Amanda, and their Aussie, June Bug.
Reasons for Running
Traditionally, the AMMP membership and leadership has included a combination of preparators and collections managers, with very few active members that are strictly researchers. However, the core mission of AMMP – improving ethics, standards, and best practices in paleontological methods – applies to all members of the paleontological community. Therefore, I think it’s critical that we get more museum curators, professors, graduate students, and other researchers involved in AMMP to help advance our community’s mission. I will do this by integrating directly with the leadership of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and the Paleontological Society and making sure AMMP’s mission is clear to those organizations’ membership.
Something else I want to help tackle as a member of the board is developing and advocating for best practices for collections and repositories. There are a number of domestic and international issues that directly involve collections for which AMMP, SVP, and the Paleo Society are best equipped to tackle. Those issues include funding for curation and conservation of specimens from federal lands, federal collection management policies, specimen data sharing and confidentiality, and deaccessioning guidelines. Because we work in a specimen-based field, these and other concerns that face collections should be priorities for this board.
As one of your members-at-large, I will ultimately serve as your voice to the rest of the Board of Directors. What are your goals, ideas, and concerns for AMMP and paleontology as a whole? What are the other issues you want the board to tackle over the next year?
Amanda Millhouse is a Vertebrate Paleontology Collections Specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. She oversees the vertebrate fossil collections, performing regular duties such as cataloging, rehousing, assisting visiting researchers, and handling specimen inquiries. Amanda also manages large scale reorganization and inventory projects, and has created new workflows and data standards for vertebrate fossils. She studied geology at Albion College in Michigan, and then went on to earn a MS Geology at Northern Arizona University. While completing her first graduate degree, Amanda fell in love with working in museum collections. She pursed her new passion and completed a MA Museum Studies with a concentration in paleontology collections from the University of Kansas. In 2012, she began her career working in the fossil collections at NMNH.
Reasons for Running
Through the Member at Large position, I would bring a strong collections management viewpoint to the AMMP community. The materials and methods I regularly use include multiple databases, inventories, and various workflows for capturing data or managing reorganization projects. Just as there are best practices for fossil preparation, there are also guidelines and standards for fossil data. At NMNH, I’ve evaluated and updated our data standards, developed digitization workflows, assessed our data management practices, and collaborated with other organizations to improve and promote data accessibility in the paleontology community. I look forward to the possibility of bringing my collections management perspective to AMMP and fostering more discussion about our triumphs and challenges in managing fossil collections.
I have been the Museum Technician at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument since 2010 where, in addition to performing collections-based responsibilities, I have specialized in developing new techniques and methods for the stabilization and micropreparation of fragile paper shales.
I am currently attending the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs majoring in Biology (Ecology and Evolution) and minoring in Museum Studies.
My AMMP contributions include Member-At-Large since 2016 and serving as the entire Host Committee for the 2016 Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs and as Annual Meeting Committee Chair also since 2016. I have attended every Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium and AMMP Annual Meeting since 2011. I currently reside in Divide, Colorado with my husband, Tom, our son, Saigg, and our official menagerie of animals, Stanley Theodore Rex, Sullivan Shea, Jimmy the Wondercat, and Cookie the Wookie.
Reasons for Running
My interest in continuing to serve on AMMP’s Board of Directors is to assist in guiding the association forward. Only in its fourth year, AMMP is still a relatively new organization. I feel that we are still transitioning from the unincorporated annual meetings of the Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium that were organized and funded by individual institutions to an incorporated non-profit with an actual Board of Directors and multiple committees. We are in a growth period with our members, with increasing membership numbers, and the accumulated knowledge gained in running a new organization for the first time. I would like to increase the transparency of the AMMP Board to its members by allowing Board minutes to be shared with the membership. Membership benefits are also a priority. Currently, except for the registration fee discount for the Annual Meeting, there are few additional member benefits received for dues paid. I would like to survey the membership for their input on how their dues (minus operating expenses, such as insurance and website costs) should be allocated. Increasing membership numbers by developing different techniques to market AMMP to additional institutions and audiences, whether professional or amateur, will bring a potential influx of new ideas and knowledge that will benefit the entire Association. Lastly, we need to better define each Board position, their role in managing committees, and basic legal responsibilities. There is a resource in the Center for Non-profit Excellence in Colorado Springs and believe it would be worthwhile to consult with this organization, or another like it, to help with these objectives. AMMP is committed to its mission of ethical paleontological research through education and advocacy for improved preparation standards. If re-elected as Member-at-Large, my goals will be to improve the Association and focus on helping it fulfill its mission.