IGCP 591 meeting wrap up
IGCP 591: The Early and Middle Paleozoic Revolution formally ended on a high note. The Ghent meeting, expertly organized by Thijs Vandenbroucke, showcased exciting advances and new techniques as well summarized the status of more than 115 research projects as poster or oral presentations featuring 148 meeting attendees and their coauthors. The theme for this meeting was “modeling” defined broadly, and keynote speakers presented about oceanographic modeling, generating global climate models, astrochonrology, statistically analyzing models of biodiversity change, and geochemical models. This was a wonderful way to conclude the six year project—showcasing both where we have come and what we have learned over the project while simultaneously provide a clear and inspiring agenda for continuing the work of this group beyond the formal end of the project.
The conference was well organized to facilitate discussion among attendees while taking advantage of historic settings to provide a backdrop of Flemish culture. Our scientific sessions, coffee breaks (coffee is very important!), and lunches were held in a former medieval Dominican monastery.
The opening reception was held in the Castle of Counts, which dates to 1180. We enjoyed the Ghent Jazz Festival. We had a conference dinner of traditional Belgian dishes.
These all-conference social events are really crucial to fostering scientific discussions, brainstorming new collaborative projects, and strengthening international ties within the scientific community. At each events, I had the opportunity to meet new scientists (I require myself to have a conversation with at least one new colleague per day) and engage in high-level scientific discourse with colleagues that I may see only once a year or less. My students (ok, they are recent alumni) had the opportunities to network broadly and develop their own scientific communities.
My research group gave three presentations this year, one each by myself, Adriane Lam, and Sarah Trubovitz focusing on Middle to Late Ordovician diversity and dispersal patterns. Feedback from colleagues afterwards was very positive and provided new ideas to consider for future work.
I will very much miss meeting with this broad Paleozoic community, but I am excited about continuing and building on many aspects of many of these collaborations in the new project which I am co-leading, IGCP 653: The Onset of the Early Ordovician Biodiversification Event. I hope to welcome many of my colleagues to Ohio in summer 2018 for a stimulating conference there.