Palaeobiology for Everyone

The Progressive Palaeontology conference (aside from what may seem a pretty oxymoronic name) is an annual gathering of young research scientists (so masters/PhD/very early post-doc) who all specialize in at least some form of palaeontology.

The ‘progressive’ part of the conference’s title has a little to do with the young age of the delegates, but also due to the techniques being used in palaeontology these days. It’s not unusual now for students researching the fossils of extinct dinosaurs to use engineering principles to, for instance, try to work out how hard T. rex could bite down on its prey (the argument about how important that actually is isn’t for this blog post to consider).

This year ‘ProgPal’ was held in my University town of Cambridge and we thought it was about time Progressive Palaeontology started progressing into web 2.0. Something that palaeontology conferences aren’t exactly famous for.

With the consent of the speakers, we recorded all the talks presented as audio files and sent them out into the world here:

http://progpal2012.tumblr.com/

As to why we just recorded audio files, here’s the final post.

Progressive Palaeontology is a student conference organized by students. This year we felt that allowing anyone to virtually attend the conference was in keeping with the current rumblings within academia and academic publishing. All the speakers on this tumblr agreed to have their talks recorded and shared online. They also provided the information and links beneath their talks.

As ProgPal is a conference for young researchers, some of the information and results discussed may not have yet been published. For this reason, we decided against recording visuals, just in case a super sexy scatterplot on a slide accidentally internally-scooped one of the speaker’s labs.

However we all agreed that the gains brought about by sharing the conference with the whole world online meant that this was (of course) the right thing to do. We look forward to seeing more international conferences offering access to talks online when, for instance, delegates are often unable to travel the large distances to foreign universities.

Now all that’s left is for us to wish the organizers of next year’s ProgPal all the best and to hope they keep using the #progpal hashtag.

We’re looking forward to it.

So, if you’ve got a few minutes and you fancy finding out about Icthyosaurs, crurotarsans or, yes, dinosaurs. Take a peek.

It’s free knowledge!

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