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Annual Meeting 2023 - Cambridge, UK: ECR event, Workshops, and Tours

Number: 67th Annual Meeting
Year: 2023
Location: Cambridge, UK
Hosted By: University of Cambridge
Organised By: Organising committee chaired by Dr Alex Liu
General Contact Email:

ECR event, Workshops, and Tours

If you wish to attend a workshop but at time of registration no places are left, please contact the meeting organiser (Dr Alex Liu; to be placed on a waiting list. 

Early-Career Researcher Event: Monday 11th September

There will be an ECR event on the afternoon of Monday 11th September, with the theme “Palaeontologists for the Future”. 

The event will run from 14:00–17:30, and will be followed by an informal evening buffet in the Watson Gallery of the Sedgwick Museum.  The event will include workshops on inclusivity and elevator pitches, and is aimed at students and those at key early-career transition points. Whilst the event will be free, we encourage a donation of £10 at registration to cover the cost of the buffet. The primary goal is to provide an opportunity for ECR participants to get to know peers in their field. Participants must register for the event when registering for the conference. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis at time of online registration. At registration, participants will be asked to provide three keywords to describe their research topic and methods.  

A draft schedule (subject to confirmation) is as follows:

Palaeontologists of the Future Early Career Researcher Workshop 
14:00 – 14:45   Welcome, introductions. Developing and sharing elevator pitches
14:45 – 15:30   Inclusive palaeontology: addressing inequality and bias workshop discussion
15:30 – 16:00   Break
16:00 – 16:45   Palaeontological research in the context of global climate change
16:45 – 17:15   Publishing for ECRs: publishing your research, and opportunities within the sector (with Elsevier)
17:15 – 17:30   Reflections and feedback; developing action points.  
18:00 – 20:00   Informal buffet and networking in the Watson Gallery, Department of Earth Sciences

Workshops and collections tours: Tuesday 12th September 

We are pleased to offer several workshops on the morning of Tuesday 12th September, held in either the Department of Zoology or the Department of Earth Sciences. Several rooms have been booked for the workshops between 09:00 – 12:30. All of the workshops and collections tours listed below are free to delegates, but places are limited, and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis at the time of registration:

Photogrammetry Workshop 
Convenor: Dr Steve Pates
Location: Department of Zoology
Duration: 09:00 – 12:30, maximum capacity 15 delegates

Photogrammetry offers a cheap and portable way to generate 3D models of fossils for morphometric analysis, or to capture the spatial information available from fossil-bearing bedding planes in the field.  In this workshop we will guide participants through the principles of photogrammetry; photographing specimens to make photogrammetric models; and the techniques available for processing photographs to produce 3D models. 

Attendees are requested to bring their own laptop and camera (any camera including phone cameras will work). A limited number of laptops and cameras will be available if needed. Participants will need to download Agisoft Metashape prior to the workshop. This software comes with a 30-day free trial, so it should not result in any cost to attendees. We are grateful to Agisoft Metashape for supporting this workshop.

Best Practices for Specimen Based and Taxonomic Research in Palaeontology 
Convenors: Zoë Hughes (NHM) and Dr Luke Parry (UCL)
Location: Department of Earth Sciences/Sedgwick Museum
Duration: 09:00 – 12:00, maximum capacity 20 delegates

Working with specimens can be a minefield, but fossil material is the fundamental data on which all of the science of palaeontology is founded. Once all your data collection is done, when and why do you need to talk to the curator? How do you properly cite specimens to meet the standards of the institution and the journal editors? Where should you be citing specimens? At what point through the project should you deposit any material into collections? What are the standards you need to meet for a museum to accept your material? What are the rules and standards for describing and diagnosing new taxa? How do you go about designating type material? All these questions and more will be answered to help demystify working with collections (and curatorial staff) and the necessary steps taken from the discovery to the naming of new species. There will be the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about collections-based research and your responsibilities, plus hands on activities to demonstrate best practices in specimen-based palaeontological research.

Palaeoart Workshop 
Convenors: Katrina van Grouw and Oliver Demuth
Location: Sedgwick Museum
Duration: 09:00 – 12:30, maximum capacity 15 delegates

Join Oliver Demuth and Katrina van Grouw for an informal art workshop in the Sedgwick Museum. The emphasis will be on accurate observation and an appreciation of rendering three-dimensional objects in 2D. The workshop will include tips on traditional drawing from museum specimens (Katrina), and digital 3D techniques (Oliver), with time for discussion at the end. 

Oliver is a scientific illustrator, palaeoartist and research technician at The Royal Veterinary College (RVC). He has a BA from Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) where he studied Scientific Visualisation, and an MSc in Palaeobiology from the University of Bristol. He draws and paints dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals for publications, and works on biomechanics and 3D computational modelling. 

Katrina has a degree in Fine Art and an MA in Natural History Illustration from the Royal College of Art. She earned a reputation as a fine artist over several decades producing etchings and engravings of birds and large graphite drawings of coastal geological formations, before devoting her time to writing and illustrating popular science books The Unfeathered Bird, and Unnatural Selection, both published by Princeton University Press. She is also a former curator of bird collections at the British Natural History Museum. Both Katrina and Oliver study bird evolution in the Cambridge Earth Sciences Field Palaeobiology Lab.

Pop-up Palaeo Museum
Conveners: Dr Liz Hide and Rob Theodore
Location: Sedgwick Museum
Duration: 09:00 – 12:30, maximum capacity 10 delegates

This practical workshop will help you develop your skills in interpreting and communicating palaeontology - no prior experience is needed. We will work through the process of creating an exhibition, including: considering audiences' needs; developing exhibition themes; and writing concise and engaging labels. We will then work together to curate a new public display in the Sedgwick Museum, to be ready in time for the Icebreaker Reception later in the evening!

Collections Tours

Concurrent with the workshops, there will be tours of palaeontology and geology collections across Cambridge. Places on the tours are limited, and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis at time of registration. Please note that delegates attending any of the workshops above should not register to attend a collections tour, since they will be happening at the same time. Since all tours are 1 – 1.5 hours in duration, it is possible for delegates to attend up to two tours, though they should be aware that the West Cambridge site (BAS and CASP tours) is 30–45 minutes walk from the city centre. Delegates hoping to participate in two tours are therefore advised to select options that are in close proximity (i.e. BAS plus CASP, or two of Sedgwick Museum/Zoology Museum/Archaeology). The journey between BAS and CASP/Forbes/Brighton buildings is around 15 minutes on foot. The Sedgwick Museum, Zoology Museum, and Department of Archaeology are 2-3 minutes from each other on foot. A regular bus service links the West Cambridge site to the city centre, with travel priced at £1 each way. 

British Antarctic Survey Collections Tour

Convenors: Dr Rowan Whittle and Dr Mark Evans (BAS)
Location: British Antarctic Survey, Madingley Rise, Cambridge.
Duration: 1 hour, tours start at 09:30 and 11:00, each accommodating up to 20 delegates.

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has a history of scientific research in Antarctica since the 1940s, and are world leaders on polar research including ice cores, glaciology, biology, space science and many other disciplines. BAS houses one of the biggest Antarctic fossil collections in the world. The collections include specimens from across the K-Pg mass extinction (Antarctica has one of the best exposures of this boundary), vertebrates (e.g. mosasaurs), multiple invertebrate groups, and plants. There may also be opportunities to visit other research areas, including the ice core store, and the aquarium.

Delegates are advised to contact Mark Evans ( well in advance if they would like to enquire about undertaking research using the BAS collections outside of the Annual Meeting dates.

CASP and Sedgwick Museum Collections Research Centre Tour

Convenors: Dr Simon Schneider (CASP) and Matt Riley (Sedgwick Museum)
Location: Forbes Building and CASP, West Cambridge Site.
Duration: 1.5 hours, tours start at 09:00 and 10:45, each accommodating up to 10 delegates.

The palaeontological collections within the Sedgwick Museum contain over 1 million fossils, collected from all over the world, tracing the history of life on Earth over 3000 million years. The collections contain over 7,000 British type specimens, and over 21,000 specimens illustrated in the scientific literature. The Museum holds a large collection of fossils reflecting the geology of Cambridgeshire and its region, as well as marine reptiles originally collected by Mary Anning, and notable collections of material from global Cambrian localities. The Museum also houses the 'Beagle' Collection of approximately 2000 rocks and a few fossils collected by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) during his voyage around the world on H.M.S. Beagle between 1831–1836.

CASP (formerly the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme) houses a growing archive of over 35,000 fossil and rock samples, collected over the last 35 years. This includes arguably the largest collection of material from East Greenland outside Denmark, as well as specimens from other parts of the Arctic. CASP’s collections are generally available for academic research, and delegates are welcome to contact Simon Schneider ( for further enquiries.
Delegates who are interested in working on the Sedgwick Museum collections outside of the Annual Meeting dates are advised to contact Matt Riley ( well in advance.

Sedgwick Museum Gallery Tour 

Convenors: Sedgwick Museum team
Location: Sedgwick Museum, central Cambridge.
Duration:1 hour, tours start at 09:00, 10:00 and 11:00, each accommodating up to 10 delegates.

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the oldest of the University of Cambridge museums, having been established in 1728 as the Woodwardian Museum. Since then the collection has grown from about 10,000 fossils, minerals and rocks, to at least 2 million. A walk through the museum will take you on a 4.5 billion year journey through time, from the meteoritic building blocks of planets, to the thousands of fossils of animals and plants that illustrate the evolution of life in the oceans, on land, and in the air.

Zoology Museum Collections Tour 

Convenors: Zoology Museum team
Location: Zoology Museum, central Cambridge.
Duration: 1 hour, tours start at 09:00, 10:00 and 11:00, each accommodating up to 10 delegates.

The Zoology Museum holds over 2 million specimens of fossil and recent organisms, with significant collections of birds, insects, and mammals. Of palaeontological interest are Devonian and Carboniferous early tetrapods; amphibians, reptiles and synapsids from southern Africa; and a large collection of fossil fish. Other items in the collections include 30,000 modern bird skins and skeletons; 20,000 bird eggs; 250,000 marine invertebrate remains; hundreds of thousands of pinned insects; 20,000 jars in the Spirit Store filled with the soft tissue remains of vertebrates and invertebrates preserved in alcohol and formaldehyde; and beetle, barnacle and fish material collected and studied by Charles Darwin.

Delegates are advised to contact the relevant Zoology Museum curator ( well in advance if they would like to enquire about doing research using the Zoology Museum collections outside of the Annual Meeting dates.

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