News from the Sector – February

Images in banner © Horniman Museum and Gardens

News from the Sector is a monthly blog series featuring the latest geological and palaeontological news, jobs, exhibitions, and conferences. If you or your institution has anything they would like to add, or advertise on GCG’s News from the Sector, please get in touch at

Conferences and Workshops

The Goldschmidt annual conference on geochemistry and related subjects, organised by the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry, will take place between the 21st and 26th June 2020. This year the title is- 10g: Geochemical Records of Holocene and Anthropocene Climate Change. The deadline for abstract submission is 14th February 2020. The early bird deadline for registration is 21st April 2020.

The Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) is holding their annual conference and AGM at National Museum Wales, Cardiff from 14th to 15th May 2020. The theme is Changing the World: Environmental Breakdown, Decolonisation and Natural Science Collections. The call for papers is now open, with a deadline for submission of 21st February 2020; Please note- This deadline has been extended.

The Marine Reptile Conference will take place at the Etches Collection: Museum of Jurassic Marine Life in Kimmeridge, Dorset from the 5th to the 7th May 2020. The primary focus will be on the fossil record, covering both marine reptiles and other organisms which formed part of their ecosystems, however a session will also take place on modern marine reptiles, and abstracts from researchers studying all aspects of this field are welcomed. The first ten students to submit an abstract will receive a £30 discount off the registration cost! Abstract deadline is the 28th February.

The Second Virtual Palaeontological Congress will be held this year in May. The organisers have suggested five thematic sessions; Evolution and palaeobiodiversity in Neogene and Quaternary Islands; Fossil insects, their record and evolution; Palynology as a tool in stratigraphic and palaeoenvironmental research: advances and perspectives; PalaeoVC Early career session; and Palaeontology in education and society. Four other potential sessions have also been named so far: Palaeozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic, and General Palaeontology. The deadline for abstract submission is the 15th March 2020. (This has been changed from an earlier deadline).

The Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) is running a one day training course at the University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology called Natural Science Collections: The Basics on 2nd March 2020. With the sector-wide loss of curatorial posts, some staff are finding themselves responsible for collections that may be outside of their expertise. This training day is aimed at those who have little to no experience or knowledge of working with natural science collections.

The Canadian Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is holding their 8th Annual Meeting from the 6th to the 8th June 2020, at the Royal BC Museum, Victoria, British Colombia. The deadline for registration is 15th March 2020.

As part of the Museums Association’s Future of Museum’s series, the Wellcome Collection in London is hosting a one day conference; Future of Museums: Curation, on the 25th March 2020. This conference will “Explore how curation is changing and discuss what tomorrow’s museum curators might look like or do.”

The 20th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference Surveying, Geology and Mining, Ecology and Management (or SGEM if you prefer) will be held at the Albena Resort and Spa, in Bulgaria, from the 27th June to the 6th July 2020. The deadline for abstract submission is the 30th March 2020.

The 18th Conference of the European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontologists will be held in Benevento, Italy, from the 29th June to the 4th July 2020. The deadline for abstract submission is the 31st March 2020.

The Geologists’ Association is holding their Student Symposium on the 15th May 2020, at Burlington House, London. The theme is ‘Geoscience in wider society: What difference does your research make?’. The deadline for abstract submission is 31st March 2020.

The Biodiversity Summit 2020 will be held from the 20th to the 25th September 2020 in Alexandria, just outside of Washington, DC. “The summit ‘will provide opportunities for all federal and non-federal natural history collections worldwide to network and share successes in biodiversity data digitization, mobilization, standards development, and access’.” The deadline for abstract submission is the 31 March 2020.

A general session called Earth System Paleobiology: Closing the Geological and Biological Gap is being hosted at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2020 in Vienna, which will take place from the 3rd to the 8th May 2020. Early Bird Registration closes on the 31st March 2020.

The 9th International Conference on Mineralogy and Museums will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria from the 5th to the 7th July 2020. The conference will be hosted by the Earth and Man National Museum. Four sessions have been proposed: Mineralogical research and museums; Archaeomineralogy and cultural heritage; Collection management and development; and Museums, environment and society. The deadline for abstract submission and early bird registration is the 1st April 2020.

The 10th International Meeting of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution (SAPE) will be held at the University of Málaga, Spain, from the 25th to the 29th May 2020. The meeting is open to both palaeontologists and ornithologists. Please note, there are various deadlines for different elements of the conference so please see the website for details, however the deadline for abstract submission is the 15th April 2020.

The Annual Meeting of the Utah Friends of Paleontology will take place from the 17th to the 19th April 2020 in Vernal, Utah. Check their website for more information as it becomes available.

The 9th International Conference on Taphonomy and Fossilisation (Taphos) and the 6th ICAZ Taphonomy Working Group (TWG‐ICAZ), which will take place in Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, Spain, from the 30th August to the 6th September 2020. This year they will be celebrating- “The 80th anniversary of the Efremov’s Taphonomy proposal as a New Branch of Paleontology, and 30 years since the first meeting on Fossilisation and Taphonomy took place (Madrid, 1990). For these reasons, in this meeting, we hope to gather specialists from all over the world, working on Taphonomy from different approaches. Thus, any contribution dealing with Taphonomy will be welcome. We hope this will be an excellent opportunity to facilitate interaction and communication between specialists working in different fields of Taphonomy.” The deadline for abstracts is the 1st May 2020.

The 2nd Crossing the Palaeontological-Ecological Gap meeting will take place at Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, from the 6th to the 9th September. Registration is via Eventbrite. The deadline for abstract submission is 4th May 2020.

The 5th International Meeting of Early-Stage Researchers in Palaeontology will take place in ​Naujoji Akmenė, Lithuania, from the 18th to the 21st May 2020. Abstract submission and Early Bird Registration are both in February, so take a look at the website asap if you’re interested in attending.

The 4th annual Digital Data in Biodiversity Research Conference will take place in Bloomington, Indiana from the 1st to the 3rd June 2020. This year’s theme is ‘Harnessing the Data Revolution and Amplifying Collections with Biodiversity Information Science’. Registration is through EventBrite.

The 10th International ProGEO Symposium will take place in Segovia, Spain from the 8th to the 11th June 2020. “This symposium is an international event open to scientists, students, educators, professionals, decision-makers and anyone involved in geoconservation.”

The next Progressive Palaeontology conference will run from the 11th to the 12th June 2020, at the Yorkshire Museum. Check their page on the PalAss website for more information as it becomes available.

The Symposium on Palaeontological Preparation and Conservation (SPPC) will take place on 16th September 2020 at the Natural History Museum London. The SPPC is intended as a forum in which professionals, amateurs and researchers alike, interested in all aspects of preparation, conservation, model-making and related subjects, can participate. Recent years have seen a drop in attendance at SPPC and the future of this symposium has subsequently come into question. SPPC 2020 will be pivotal in determining the future existence of the symposium, and we hope that you will support the conference this year if you would like to see it continue.

As stated, the SPPC (above) will be immediately followed by the Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy (SVPCA), due to run from the 16th to the 19th September 2020. A loose programme is already available on the website, including the location of the field trip which will take place at Crystal Palace Park, to be led by the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs.

The 8th International Conference on Mammoths and their Relatives will take place at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, from the 1st to the 10th October 2020.

© Horniman Museum and Gardens

Exhibitions and Events

The First Animals is an exhibition at Oxford University Museum of Natural History which showcases over 60 incredibly well-preserved specimens from sites across the globe, including a significant loan of 55 fossils from Yunnan University in Chengjiang, China, along with other evidence from Burgess Shale, Canada and Sirius Passet, Greenland. To complement this exhibition, the OUMNH is hosting a debate on ‘The First Animals: When, Where and How?’, to be chaired by Museum Director Professor Paul Smith. The event will take place on Tuesday 11th February 2020. Doors open at 6pm, the debate starts at 6.30pm. Tickets are free, but must be booked in advanced on EventBrite.

The incredible exhibition Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs is coming to the Horniman Museum and Gardens, due to open on the 15th February 2020, for its first ever showcasing in the UK, and with recently updated scientific content to ensure it’s at the forefront of our current understanding. “252 million years ago, in a period called the Permian, life on Earth was dominated by extraordinary creatures, from fearsome sabre-toothed gorgonopsids to sail backed pelycosaurs like Dimetrodon“. The Horniman Museum’s Deputy Keeper of Natural History, Dr Emma Nicholls, says: “This exhibition is the dictionary definition of awesome!”

Dr John Nudds will be delivering the Distinguished Visitor’s Address at The Liverpool Geological Society on the 18th February at Liverpool John Moores University. Dr Nudds will be speaking about the famous feathered fossil- Archaeopteryx.

The Essex Gem and Mineral Show will take place on Saturday 22nd February 2020, at North Romford Community Centre. The show includes “Minerals, gemstones, natural crystals, fossils, shells, pebbles, meteorites, books, gem-set jewellery… something for everyone”!

The exhibition Displays of Power: A Natural History of Empire is on until the 7th March 2020, at the Grant Museum of Zoology, in London… “Come and see how historical teaching and research at UCL fits into the bigger picture of the history of science and imperial collecting in Britain and beyond. What part did UCL play in the international trade of living and dead animals? And how do colonial ways of working and thinking continue to affect the natural world today?”

The Exploration: From Deep Time to Outer Space reveals some of the important scientific and personal legacies of scientific and geographic field investigations, and how the rewards and costs for such ventures can be very high. A free exhibition at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, on until the 15th March 2020.

The Elgin Museum in Elgin, Scotland, has a new exhibition opening soon called At the Water’s Edge. This temporary exhibition comprises Late Devonian (375 Ma) fossils highlighting early tetrapod evolution and the importance of Elginerpeton pancheni in the transition of life from water to land. The exhibition opens on the 28th March, and is on until the 31st October 2020.

On until the 19th April 2020, the exhibition Parasites: Battle for Survival is a free exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, showcasing five tropical diseases, the parasites that cause them, and how scientific research taking place in Scotland is leading the way in this field.

The Elgin Museum is hosting a special lecture by Prof. Per Ahlberg (University of Uppsala) called At the Water’s Edge: Early Tetrapod Evolution, on the 24th April 2020, at 7.30 pm… “Per first identified and described the fossils in our current exhibition in the early 1990s. These early tetrapod fossils, the oldest in the world, help explain how fins became feet and how fish moved out of the water and onto land.”

The Elgin Museum is also hosting a Fossil Finders’ Weekend, 25th-26th April, comprising “drop-in sessions to identify fossil finds plus a bookable coastal trail exploring ancient dune systems to see reptile footprints made by animals older than the dinosaurs.”

The National Museum Scotland is hosting Tyrannosaurs, a fantastic exhibition designed by the Australian Museum in Sydney. On until the 4th May 2020, the exhibition “explores the most feared and revered of all dinosaurs- the Tyrannosaurs- bringing the latest palaeontological discoveries to life and challenging preconceptions about these ferocious predators.”

The Fossil Swamp is on at National Museum Cardiff, part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, until the 17th May 2020. “This new exhibition reveals a snapshot in time from 300 million years ago – when a vast tropical swamp covered what is now Wales. The Fossil Swamp had monster plants, giant insects, thunderstorms and floods.”

The fifty-fifth Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is on at the Natural History Museum London until the 31st May 2020. “Encounter the beauty and fragility of wildlife, see fascinating animal behaviour and get to know extraordinary species, exhibited on 100 stunning lightbox displays. Go deeper and discover the surprising – and often challenging – stories behind the images during a time of environmental crisis. A panel of international experts selected the awarded images from almost 50,000 entries by the world’s best photographers.”

Dino Makers is a new exhibition on palaeoart at Teylers Museum in Haarlem, The Netherlands. “In Dinomakers you get an overview of two centuries of paleo art: the exciting, surprising and sometimes controversial depiction of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life by artists and scientists. Fossils, paintings, drawings, magic lantern slides, films and models: be amazed by the enormous imagination of the dinomakers and discover how their creations are constantly changing.” The exhibition is on from the 31st January to the 1st June 2020.

© Horniman Museum and Gardens

Job Vacancies

Oxford University Museum of Natural History – Collections Assistant in Earth Collections. Deadline 12pm, 10th February 2020.

Dickinson Museum Center – Museum Palaeontology AssistantDeadline 13th February 2020.

State Natural History Museum of the 3Landesmuseen in Braunschweig – Zoological taxidermist/preparator, specializing in mammals. Deadline 15th February 2020.

Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University – Vertebrate Paleontology Technician and PreparatorDeadline- Looks like it is open until filled.

Palaeontological Research Institution, Ithaca, New York – Post-Doctoral researcher in fossil gastropod systematics across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Start date 1st September 2020. Deadline- Looks like it is open until filled.

Although not curatorial, there is a whole host of geoscience jobs on this site: Geoscience Research and Technical Jobs.

© Horniman Museum and Gardens

Send us Your Stuff!

If you would like to contribute content to our monthly blog series News from the Sector (and get some free advertising!), please get in touch with Emma Nicholls, email

© Horniman Museum and Gardens

News from the Sector is compiled by Dr Emma Nicholls, Deputy Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

Images throughout © Horniman Museum and Gardens

Please note, events listed above are not necessarily endorsed by the Geological Curators’ Group. If you have any concerns about a listing, please get in touch with Blog Editor, Emma Nicholls, at

© Horniman Museum and Gardens

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