Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Very Sad Day

Today is a very sad day!! At the end of the business day the University of Wyoming Geological Museum will be closing its doors to the public and the two employees of the museum will loose their jobs. This amazing image pretty much sums up the last nearly 30 years of paleontology at the museum - a history which the University no longer finds important. A very very sad day for everyone.
(please click on image for a larger, better view)

A great article where we finally have a chance to hear how museum director Brent Breithaupt is taking all of this can be read here (a very emotional read). There is also a poor set of excuses and bad attempt to save face from the powers that be at UW here, and a word from the Governor of Wyoming supporting the cuts here. You might not like my description of these articles, but I am mad that this is happening and aggravated at the short-sightedness that the university administration obviously has. How can this museum not fulfill the universities core mission of teaching, research and outreach. It does ALL of these!

Please visit the "Keep Laramie Dinos" page for more information on what you can do to save this wonderful museum. An account has been set up to try and build an endowment to reopen the museum, hopefully in the very near future, as the S.H. Knight Geological Museum. Stay tuned for further developments as they occur.

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster, art © Anton Wroblewski

Monday, June 29, 2009

Museum Monday #1: St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm

I know I have fallen behind a bit with my "Fieldwork Friday" series. Sorry about that. It is not for a lack of field work, but more from an abundance of it and a lack of time to write about it. So, just to give me something else interesting to do, I thought I would write about some of the museums I have visited, and start a "Museum Monday" series. Let me know if you like it (or hate it).

I thought I would start with the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm (St. George, Utah). This museum is a unique, world-class dinosaur track museum. The museum sits on land that was once privately owned by Dr. Sheldon Johnson, and the first tracks were located on February 26th, 2000 to prepare the land for commercial resale. The tracks are found in the lower part of the Whitmore Point Member of the Moenave Formation (Early Jurassic in age; 195-198 million year old). After the discovery of the tracks and the large amount of visitation and press the site recieved, the land was donated to the City of St. George.

I first visited the site in 2002 when there was nothing more than a pavillion over some of the tracks and a garden shed as the prep lab. Since that time they have built a truly wonderful museum, which was finished in April 2005! I had never visited a museum where they preserve the original bedding plane for everyone to see. It is really a sight to see! They have several track blocks around for guest to view on the southeast side of the museum, with the main track layer exposed along the north side of the building. A lab where fossils (such as the numerous fish they have also discovered) are cleaned and studied, is situated in the southwest corner for visitors to view and ask questions. They also have a cool gift shop full of some unique gifts, not the same crap you see in every other gift shop.

Upon preparing the in place outcrop prior to building the museum they discovered the first ever track of a dinosaur crouching with clear hand impressions [see the paper here] was discovered. This is another really cool aspect about the museum - their website has a publications section where they add links to all of the recent research being done. I wish more museums took the time to do this. The museum also leads local paleontology tours.

You can see my pictures from the museum here.

The museum is run by paleontologist Andrew Milner. I took a moment to interview Andrew and ask him a little about his background and how he came to work at this great museum:

(RKHF) What is your background? How did you get into

(AM): Did my undergrad degree at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario with a major in Geology and minor in Biology. Worked two years with the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa
and five seasons for the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto at the Burgess Shale in British Columbia. I've been preparing fossils since the age of 12. My interest in paleo always got in the way of school. Things have always got in my way for graduate school, but experience goes a long way and I have a lot of it. I'll complete graduate school one of these days, even if I'm in my 90's!

(RKHF) How did you get into paleontology?

(AM): I was 6 years old and had just moved from England to Quebec. My aunt came to Canada for a visit, and she picked up a Middle Ordovician brachiopod fossil off the trail and showed it to me. I was
collecting them for the rest of the hike. We lived in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal, so no fossils are known in this part of the Canadian Shield. Turns out that the gravel we were finding fossils in was shipped in from Montreal in the St. Lawrence Lowlands. I started digging holes in the driveway (also gravel from Montreal). My brother gave me a book on prehistoric animals and that's when I saw my first dinosaur. I've been hooked ever since, especially with lots of encouragement from my parents. My future was sealed when I started collecting Late Pleistocene Champlain Sea fossils (as seen in picture) and showing them to Dr. Richard Harington at the Canadian Museum of Nature. He was impressed with what I was finding (seal skull, complete frog, rare fishes, insects, plants, etc.).

(RKHF) What brought you to Utah from Canada?

(AM): My wife, Lynn White, graduated with a PhD in Physiological Psychology at McGill University in Montreal in 1997. She immediately sent out her CV and job applications all over Canada and the United States. She was accepted at University of Wisconsin, University of Prince Edward Island, and Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. As soon as Lynn said Utah, I said let's go! The paleo of Utah being the key factor for me. We drove from Montreal to Utah in a moving truck in August, 1997.

(RKHF) What has been your favorite part about your job in St. George?

(AM): I think my favorite part of the job is when we are excavating new sites. I don't know what it is about this area, but as soon as we start digging we usually make a significant discovery. Getting to work with and meet so many interesting people is an added bonus.

(RKHF) What is the most professionaly important/significant thing you have done while at the track museum?

(AM): Difficult to choose from because so much has gone on here in such a short period of time. I suppose I would have to list as number one, helping build a museum to preserve the site.
Significant discoveries would be the world's largest and best preserved collection of theropod dinosaur swim tracks ever found, and the discovery of one of only five crouching theropod dinosaur traces. Ours is the only one in the world with clear hand impressions.

A restoration of Early Jurassic environment preserved at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, with the theropod Dilophosaurus wetherilli in bird-like resting pose, demonstrating the resting trace with hand impressions. Art by Heather Kyoht Luterman, image from here.

(RKHF) Can you tell us a little more about how the track site was found, and how work there has progressed till now?

(AM): Dr. Sheldon Johnson was leveling a hilltop on his property, preparing the land for commercial resale. He had taken most of the hill away when a large sandstone block rolled out of the back of his dump truck. He noticed a three-toed natural cast of a Eubrontes track. His first thought was that the dinosaur was still in the rock and its foot was sticking out. It wasn't until he continued flipping rocks over that he realized that they were in trackways, and he was looking at sandstone infills of the tracks. Two weeks after the discovery Jim Kirkland called Wade Miller, Alden Hamblin and myself to go and look at the site. This was before the public found out about it. We met the press on that day and that's when people started visiting the site in huge numbers.

The City of St. George became involved and put up a fence around the site. Volunteers began
giving tours and the city hired a volunteers coordinator. Martin Lockley, Jim Kirkland and other came to the site to start proper documentation. That's when the in place "Top Surface" tracksite was discovered (one site now covered by the museum) and we had to stop excavating the "Main Track Layer" (original surface discovered by Sheldon). This is also when we discovered the tail drag with the Eubrontes trackway which secured $0.5 million from the federal government toward a museum. I was hired on by the City in October, 2001.

Hard to believe, but in less than 5 years after the discovery, a museum was being built over the site. Unfortunately our building is not big enough to house everything we have collected and we desperately need another building. Most of the dinosaur swimtrack collection is outside under make-shift wooden boxes and they deteriorating despite our effort to try and preserve them.

(RKHF) Do you have a favorite fossil that you have found (anywhere in the world)?

(AM): That's tough making me pick just one ... can I pick my top
five? At the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm it would have to be discovering all of the dinosaur swimtracks in place. We have now identified well over 3000 individual claw marks and we are no where near finished preparation of the blocks. Finding a complete Anomalocaris at the Burgess Shale was a rush. The 10,800 year old leopard frog with insect part in its gut was an exciting discovery, especially since I'd always said, "I'd love to find a Champlain Sea frog!" All alone, jumping around like a crazy person on a beach along the Ottawa River when I found a Harp Seal skull was fun. Aside from the dinosaur swimtracks though, I think the best find of my life was showing Jim Kirkland where "Andrew's Site" was in the Lower Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation (pictured above). It's produced a new species of iguanodont (adult and juvenile), a new Fruitachampsa-looking terrestrial crocodile, the skull of a fairly large, new mammal, the tail of a small dromaeosaur, and a partial Gastonia on a lower bed. Two small theropod caudals are what made me take notice in 2002. Jim returned in 2005 to discover bones coming out all over the hill.


Hope you have enjoyed this first Museum Monday post!

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fieldwork Friday #8

The last week of May I returned to Nebraska to work with friends in the Oligocene White River Badlands of Shalimar Ranch (my fourth year in a row). As I have mentioned before, during the summer, the Geology Department at Augustana College (where I worked last year) offers a 3-credit course entitled "Fossil Mammals of the Badlands." This 2-week course travels to the White River Badlands of South Dakota and Nebraska to learn about the paleontology and geology of the area. The group camps on the ranch, outside of Harrison, Nebraska, and collects fossils on this privately owned land. This trip has become a tradition, with the first trip in 1982. Sadly, this may have been our last year. The ranch is now fore sale. If you know of anyone with a few extra million dollars you might tell them to look it up. It is a beautiful place.

White River Badlands on Shalimar Ranch

The weather was great when I arrived on the ranch! My first day in the field I had a chance to work with one of the students to remove a beautiful Oreodont skull and arm. This student, one of the geology department majors (we often have non geology majors on the trip) did the right thing. He found a skull and instead of trying to excavate it on his own, he came and found one of the instructors so we could show him how to properly excavate the specimen. I wish I had taken more pictures of the entire process, but here is a picture of the skull before we removed it.

Oreodont skull

I did not find too much this year. Many [fossil] turtles (tons of turtles in this area), occasional disarticulated mammal postcrania, and quite a few dentaries and isolated teeth (some pictures below of some of the random things I collected). The stuff I collected last year was pretty cool [picture].

The ranch has received a higher than usual amount of rain this past year and there were quite a few horney toads out and even a few frogs! Only one rattlesnake was spotted this year.

Horney toad!

Due to all the moisture there were some great mudcracks in the flats (see my new blog background). I got caught up in photographing them which was great when last week I had a chance to see a Jurassic example of curled mudcracks, very similar to what I saw in the field while on the ranch.

Unfortunately, after two full days in the field we got rained out. It rained more in Harrison in one day than it had in the past 9 years (according to the local bar talk). It soaked everything. Several of the students tents quickly became small swimming pools, and I located a new hole in my tent rainfly. And of course it was located directly above my sleeping bag (lucky for me I have a waterproof bag!). Some quick improvising led me to use a car window sun shade to deflect the drips until I could get home and buy a patch. What did I learn from this (and another large hole I found in the tent itself) - never loan your tent out.

During a brief stop in the rain

The rest of the trip was spent visiting the Black Hills, Agate Fossils Beds National Monument, and Fort Robinson State Park, generally dodging the rain. It was a great trip. I hope we get a chance to return to the ranch next year!

At the Trailside Museum at Fort Robinson State Park

At Agate Fossils Beds National Monument

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster. Please see the "Field Work Friday Rules" about the work I do and collection practicies.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Reading List Meme

I thought I would jump on board with the Summer Reading List Meme that has been going around this month. Suvrat started it, followed by BrianR, then Eric, Silver Fox, and ITV Brian. Rules are easy: What are you reading/planning to read this summer? This is my non technical list. I am way behind on my journal reading.

In no particular order:
  • the Songlines - I recently finished this book (Sunday that is). It was a great read, if a bit slow in some parts. It is a book Jimmy Buffett really enjoyed and even sings about so I thought I would give it a go. It is a sort of ethnographic sketch, something I had not read much of since I took Anthropology as an undergrad. I really liked the underlying theme of threads tying a culture to its creation, heavy on nature. It is also nice just as a rambling, traveling tail.

  • the Namesake - I saw the movie and was interested in the perspective of a Indian family moving to the US and the way they approach it vs. that of their children who are born here. They take a trip with their children back to their native India, weaving a travel tale with a cultural experience. It also seems to be a book about understanding and accepting where you come from and how that can differ from the lives of your parents, relatives and friends, making you appreciate where they are coming from and why they are the way they are. Something I pay more attention to these days in my own life. I also heard the book was much better than the movie, which can be a good or bad thing.

  • Breakfast with Buddha -My sister-in-law got me this one for my birthday and, although I have not heard of it before, my husbands side of the family have had a good record of getting me books that I like, so I am looking forward to reading it (they got me Water for Elephants for Christmas which I read in Jan./Feb., and it was a really great read). It sounds interesting and involves a few themes I am always interested in: roadtrips and buddhism.

  • Fifty Years on the Old Frontier -I picked this book up while I was doing fieldwork in Nebraska a few weeks ago. We had gotten rained out of the field and took a short trip down to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. I had been there a few times before but this time the kid (he was only in high school!) who gave the interpretive talk before their short film on the history of the area gave a really good talk! It made me interested to find out more about James Cook, the pioneer, rancher, Native American advocate, and fossil enthusiast who lived at Agate Springs and first invited paleontologist to his ranch to study the Miocene fossils found there. There are also some interesting Native American interpretations of the fossils themselves.

  • Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty - I first heard about Ruess in April when I read about him in a National Geographic Adventure article (I guess I also read about him in the book Into the Wild, but I do not remember it). I had been wanting to read more about his adventures and wanderings, and found this book in the Arches National Park bookstore when I was in Moab last week helping with one of our five-day dinosaur digs the museum does. I am looking forward to learning more about him.

  • Cinema Southwest - This is another one of those book I have intended to buy for sometime. I have seen it in many of the bookstores in and around my neck of the woods, and just never picked it up. On the drive down to Moab last week John and I were debating about a film that John Wayne & Maureen O'Hara had shot in the canyon on highway 128 - we could not decided which movie it was (it was Rio Grande by the way), so we decided to just break down and buy it. Many movies have been filmed down here, especially around the Moab area, and we visit these areas enough that we thought it would be fun to know what we were talking about for once and that it would be interesting tidbits we could work into tours and impress our friends with our never ending amount of useless knowledge surrounding fluff like film. :)
So there is my random list. I must admit that one nice thing about not being in the hard core rat race of grad school is the fact that I actually have time to read books I enjoy! And it does not always have to involve paleontology or even science. Crazy concept, but it is actually rather nice and relaxing to still be able to do what I love but also slack off and read some fun fiction every now and then. It is kind of interesting now to look up at my list and realize there is a common thread of travel in these books. Odd, I wonder why ;)

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Monday, June 22, 2009

Video on the Geological Museum closing

A short video about the University of Wyoming Geological Museum closing. We finally get a chance to see and hear Brent Breithaupt, the director, talk about these cuts in his own words and about what might lay ahead. Here is a link to the story. And don't forget to sign the petition if you have not had a chance. We are over 2000 signatires now, which is great. I sent 1200 of these to the board on Friday and plan to send the next batch at the end of this week!

Thanks to Thomas for the link to the story!

Sorry to not have many regular post recently. It is summer, my busy season (as it is for many), and I have not had to much time to update the blog. Thank you for coming by and please keep checking back!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Press Surrounding the UW Geological Museum

News surrounding the UW Geological Museum closure has slowed a bit recently. A Board of Trustees meeting was held yesterday, but there was no time scheduled for public comments. The Provost stayed afterward to speak to the members of the public that had come to the meeting, and told the members of the board they could do the same, and all hung up. The Provost did indicate that if private funds could be raised to keep the museum open that would be an option (prior to what some potential donors had been told - that their money could go to better things).

The museum will in fact be closing its doors to the general public at the end of the day on June 30, 2009. It will remain open upon appointment to UW students and visiting researchers.

The petition is doing good and it now has over 1500 signatures. Way to go folks! I will be mailing a copy of the petition signatures in with my letter to the Board of Trustees. Please keep passing it around and take a moment to sign it if you have not yet.

I did send an email to Matt Haigler, President of the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming. He told me that he supports the budget cuts and they he does support the effort to raise private funds for the museum, and that he would be happy to provide support and help in this effort. He said that he had several ideas and would be willing to speak to me about them, but I was unable to reach him by phone. I plan on attempting to contact him again soon (I have been sick for the last two days).

If you would like to send in a letter to the editor, please consider these local Wyoming publications: Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, & Laramie Boomerang. It would also be beneficial to contact the local TV news stations (Email: K2 ABC, KCWY13 NBC, KGWN CBS 5). It might also be benificial to contact the Wyoming State Tourism Board & the local Laramie Chamber of Commerce.

Below is a list of the recent press surrounding the mueum closure.

News Stories:

(6-16-09) Museum comments sidestepped [Wyoming Tribune Eagle]

(6-15-09) UW reacts to concern about the closing of the Geology Museum [Wyoming Public Radio]

(6-12-09) Paleontologists don't dig closing Wyo. dino museum [AP story, covered in the Fort Mill Times, NewsTimes, San Francisco Chronicle, Casper Star-Tribune, KJCT News Grand Junction, Local News 8]

(6-11-09) Dinosaur museum in Laramie closing [Wyoming Tribune Eagle]

(6-4-09) University Response to State Budget Reductions [University of Wyoming News]

(6-4-09) UW cuts 45 jobs [Laramie Boomerang]

Letters to the Editor:

(6-16-09) Museum exemplifies UW's mission [Casper Star-Tribune]
(6-16-09) Money for sports but not museum? [Casper Star-Tribune]
(6-16-09) UW must not ignore public [Casper Star-Tribune]
(6-14-09) Museum is too valuable to cut [Casper Star-Tribune]
(6-11-09) Pouring gas on UW's fire [Casper Star-Tribune]
(6-10-09) Museum is part of UW's mission [Casper Star-Tribune]
(6-8-09) Keep Geological Museum open [Casper Star-Tribune]


(6-15-09) A summary of plans to close the University of Wyoming Geological Museum from Provost Allen [link-PDF]

(6-4-09) Memo on University of Wyoming budget reductions [link-PDF]

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Sunday, June 14, 2009

For the crafty paleontologist

That's right, its a trilobite hat! I have no idea how to follow a knitting pattern, but my friend Sarah who is a kitting wizard sent me this link. She is going to make a hat for John and I so I will have to post the pictures once she is finished. Hopefully one of you are talented in this realm, or know someone who is. Enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Museum officially closing

This story was just brought to my attention, from the Wyoming Tribune:

Dinosaur museum in Laramie closing

A particuarly interesting and infuriating comment from the Provost:
"Although there is an online petition effort to keep it open, Provost Allen said the museum closure is a done deal.

But when asked if the museum might come back in flush economic times, he said, "I wouldn't rule it out."

There are to many emotions going though my mind to comment politly on that statement.

There are many interesting and one silly comments on the story. One that caught my eye:

"So, UW President Buchanan got a $50,000 RAISE just a year ago, millions are being poured into new skyboxes at the stadium, and the university can't find $80,000 to fund the museum?

Shame on the Board of Trustees for cutting academic resources for the benefit of unnecessary athletic amenities and bloated administrative contracts. "

I really hate university politics. Things like this make me sick. We need $80,000 a year to keep the museum running. If the president would have simply refused his raise and decide to not dump so much money into the stadium, they could easily do this. But no. We are more worried about the athletics and lifestyle of the president than keeping a wonderful educational facility open. Because going to a university has nothing to do with education these days obviously. At least the president and provost show us where their priorities lie.

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Focusing Our Efforts

Word has come down that it may be time to focus our efforts on the UW Board of Trusties (contact information below), to help keep the University of Wyoming Geological Museum open and the jobs associated with it. Hopefully there will be more information as to why soon. Please keep checking back for additional updates as they become available. Remember that is was only last week when Brent Breithaupt, director of the museum, got the university a ton of free press when he was featured in an article on MSNBC, which reached people around the globe! I guess globall free press is not important to the university.

I would love to thank those of you who have helped to spread the word: Julia, Sarah, PZ Myers, Brian, Rissa and MDR (and all of you I may have missed)!

The petition has gone from ~450 signatures yesterday to 801 as I write this. Awesome work folks! Please keep spreading the word!!

Board of Trusties Contact information:

Mr. Chuck Brown, President of the UW Board of Trustees
P.O. Box 789
1554 Cottonwood Ave.
Wheatland, WY 82201

Jim D. Neiman
P.O. Box 218
Hulett, WY 82720
(307) 467-5252

Warren A. Lauer
512 Grand
Laramie, WY 82070
(307) 742-7288

Dave Bostrom
President, Mountain Benefit Associates, LLC
809 S. Railway Avenue
Worland, Wyoming
(307) 347-6151

Richard 'Dick'Davis
P.O. Box 728
40 South Main
Sheridan, WY 82801
(307) 672-7491

Betty Fear
P.O. Box 340
Big Piney, WY 83113
(307) 276-5331

Taylor H. Haynes, M.D.
P.O. Box 904
Cheyenne, WY 82003
(307) 635-4241

David F. "Dave" Palmerlee
11 North Main Street
Buffalo, WY 82834
(307) 684-1414

Bradford S. Mead
Mead & Mead
185 E. Hansen
P.O. Box 1809
Jackson, WY 83001
(307) 733-0166

Ann Rochelle
152 N. Durbin Street, Suite 120
Casper, Wyoming 82601
(307) 266-5000

James Trosper
P.O. Box 1111
Fort Washakie, WY 82514
(307) 332-6120

Howard Willson, M.D.
P.O. Box 710
Thermopolis, WY 82443
(307) 864-5624

Tom Buchanan
University President
1000 E. University Avenue, Dept. 3434
Laramie, WY 82071
(307) 766-4121

David Freudenthal
Governor of Wyoming
State Capitol Building, Room 124
200 W. 24th Street
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Jim McBride
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Cheyenne Office
2300 Capitol Avenue
Hathaway Building, 2nd Floor
Cheyenne, WY 82002-0050
(307) 777-6234

Kelsey Day

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

RIP Matt Edmonds

My friend Matt Edmonds (Reggie to his friends) died yesterday, when the bike he was riding was struck by a drunk driver near Sand Springs, Oklahoma. He, and a friend (Christa Voss) were killed in the accident, and another friend (John Moore) was also inured was treated and later released from the hospital.

I met Matt at the University of Arkansas while he worked on his masters degree in geology and I was an undergrad. He was a devoted cyclist and participated in may competitions over the years. Matt was a great geologist who always had a smile on his face and a friendly word to all. Matt is survived by his parents, sibling and dog, Stella. He will be missed!

Here is a link to a great article about Matt.

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More information to help save the University of Wyoming Geological Museum

My friend Kenshu Shimada of DePaul University has put together an easily accessable list of contact information that you can use if you would like to contact the powers that be at the University of Wyoming in order to help save the University of Wyoming Geological Museum.Please remember that all letters of support should be sent in ASAP as these cuts take affect on July 1, 2009.

The petition is just over 300 signatures, but the more we can get (regarless of if you are a paleontologist or not) the better!! Please take a short moment to sign it. And, as suggested by Scott Hartman on the vertpaleo list, it would be great to contact local papers "(http://www.casperstartribune.net/& http://www.laramieboomerang.com) and to politicians at the local (Albany County) and state level."

I would really like to take this moment to encourage my fellow bloggers to post/repost this information on thier blog and share it on facebook/twitter/myspace/anywhere!! Please!

"In order to facilitate your letter writing process, below, I have put together a list of contact addresses of key people who you should send your letters to. 'SET 1' gives a string of e-mails (which you can simply copy and paste to the "To" box of your send command) of the members of the University Board of Trustees, including Governor Freudenthal as Ex Officio. "SET 2" lists e-mails of the president and provost of the University of Wyoming. Since the e-mail of the Board President, Mr. Chuck Brown, and that of another board member, Dr. Howard Willson, were nowhere to be found, I have listed their postal address in "SET 3" so that you can write them personally. I should note that you will receive a rather discouraging standard message from the university president and provost, but it is important that we put our unified voice on record to these people. If we don't, there will be absolutely no chance to resurrect the museum even if the budget situation improves. Thanks for your cooperation."


"Dear members of the Board of Trustees of the University of Wyoming,":

E-mails: jimd@neiman.biz; warrenlauer@lauerlegal.com; mba-db@mbawyoming.com; dick@davisandcannon.com; bfear@centurytel.net; rangebeef@aol.com; dpalmerlee@vcn.com; bradmead@wyoming.com; arochelle@casperlaw.net; jltrosper@wyoming.com; tombuch@uwyo.edu; governor@state.wy.us; supt@educ.state.wy.us; asuwpres@uwyo.edu

At the beginning of your message, add: "[I would truly appreciate if you could also forward this message to the board president, Mr. Chuck Brown, and another board member, Dr. Howard Willson, because I was not able to locate their e-mail addresses]"


"Dear University President Buchanan and Provost Allen,"

E-mails: tombuch@uwyo.edu; allen@uwyo.edu


Mr. Chuck Brown, President of the UW Board of Trustees
P.O. Box 789
1554 Cottonwood Ave.
Wheatland, WY 82201

Dr. Howard Willson, Member of the UW Board of Trustees
703 Highway 20 N.
Thermopolis, WY 82443-9469


© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Monday, June 8, 2009

University of Wyoming Geological Museum cuts

An open letter regarding the University of Wyoming cuts. Please feel free to post this on your blogs and try to share this information with as many as you can! Please sign this petition as well to keep the museum open and pass the link around. Thanks! ~ ReBecca

"We are dismayed to report that the University of Wyoming has decided to include the Geological Museum in the programs to be cut as a result of a decrease in funding by the state. 45 people across the University lost their jobs, including the Director of the Geological Museum Brent Breithaupt and the part-time museum secretary. This decision was made by the University administration, and in no way reflects a lack of support from the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

The museum itself and the paleontological research program that has been built around it is an amazing educational resource that is utilized daily by everyone from university professors to preschool children. The museum was founded in 1887 by Wilbur C. Knight, shortly after the university itself was founded. One of the first curators was William Harlow Reed, one of the railroad workers who discovered the first dinosaurian fossils at Como Bluff, WY. The current museum building was built under the direction of Samuel H. “Doc” Knight, for whom the S. H. Knight Geology building is named. The museum’s physical connection to the Geology Building allows it to be routinely incorporated into laboratory and classroom activities. In addition, public and private school classes frequently tour the museum as part of their curricula, making this museum a significant educational resource not just for Laramie but for the entire state of Wyoming.

The museum houses many fossils of interest to children and researchers alike, including one of the only mounted skeletons
of Apatosaurus (“Brontosaurus”) which recently was re-mounted with its tail in the air. Visitors from across the country come to see “Big Al” the Allosaurus as well as numerous other exhibits. Several holotype specimens are on display and have been available for research. Other specimens currently under study include the Columbian mammoth (ancient DNA) and microvertebrates from the Mesaverde Fm. A working preparation station has been integrated into the museum, and visitors can ask questions while watching fossils being prepared.

We want to stress that the Collection of Fossil Vertebrates is separate from the museum, and is not affected by these cuts at this time.

...We will keep the community apprised of any further developments in regards to the status of the University of Wyoming Geological Museum.

Letters of concern and support can be addressed to:

Tom Buchanan

Office of the President

Dept. 3434

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071


Myron Allen

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dept. 3302

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071


Please also sign the on-line petition at: ipetitions.com/petition/geomuseum/"

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Museum in Danger!!!

In case you have not heard yet, yesterday the University of Wyoming decided to cut 45 jobs (without even notifying those whose jobs they are cutting from what I understand - not very considerate!!). Due to an $18.3 million budget cut from the state of Wyoming’s block grant, these job cuts will include the only two jobs at the Geological Museum, and cutting the museum itself, closing the facility. [read more here]

This is HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!! This museum has long had a history of public outreach and good scientific work. More information regarding this is forthcoming, so please stay tuned for information on how you can help us to try and save this museum and the two jobs associated with it. 

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Second Annual Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium

I am currently in Casper, Wyoming, at the Tate Museum for the Second Annual Fossil Preparation and Collections Symposium. For a list of speakers and events click here [PDF here]. Hope to see many of you there!

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster, art © Russell Hawley

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

EarthScope Suggest-A-Site

Two of my friends are currently working for/with the EarthScope project, which is "a community of scientists conducting multidisciplinary research across the Earth sciences utilizing the freely accessible data collected and maintained by EarthScope facilities." [link].

I was recently approched by one of my friends to find out if I might know anyone "back home" who is willing to host a seismic station on thier land. This sounds pretty cool to me. I wish I could help (alas, no land). If you go to the Suggest-A-Site page and zoom in on your area you will see several circles. They are interested in instaling seismic stations in or as close to these circles as possible. If someone has land that is willing to host a site, they can place a marker on the google
 map on the Suggest-A-Site page. There will be a place to give contact information, and the EarthScope team will be able to call the land owner directly with the information provided. 
How cool is that!

If you go to this page you can see a current map with all of the stations that have been installed. 

So check the map out and see if your area has been covered yet. If not, suggest a site if you can or pass this information along to those who could help. How neat would it be to have your own siesmic station in your yard where you could go online and get real-time data for your particular station! Just one more way you can contribute to science!

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How to be a healthy Paleontologist

I think this is something we could all do...(click on image for a larger view)
Thanks to Margaret and Georgia for the heads up!
© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster

Monday, June 1, 2009

The female underclass

Check out this editorial from Nature about European women in science:

The female underclass

doi:10.1038/459299a; Published online 20 May 2009

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster