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Staff Updates

Draft of McKittrick Site reconstruction

Early draft of the McKittrick site reconstruction. Illustration credit Helina Chin

McKittrick Project

With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the UCMP recently completed rehousing the largely vertebrate fossil collection from the McKittrick tar seeps of the Central Valley. Most of the collections were made during UCMP excavations between 1921 and 1927, with additional collections in the mid-1940s by John C. Merriam. The fossils were mostly stored in the Campanile bell tower and lay uncatalogued for more than 75 years.

Over the past two years, more than 13,000 specimens from the McKittrick collection have been identified, cataloged, and digitized by Pat Holroyd, with a team of student assistants working under her supervision. This collection, of special value to California - the McKittrick site near Bakersfield is a historical landmark - is now the subject of a series of education modules that will soon be available on the UCMP website. The materials will offer a variety of interactive experiences for young audiences including a McKittrick-area site reconstruction, an interactive Pleistocene food web, and the "Great McKittrick Fossil Find" - an anatomical puzzle challenge using authentic fossils from the site.


JR/IOPD Oceanography workshop labOn deck on the JOIDES/Resolution
Lisa White and fellow crew members on the JOIDES/Resolution teaching workshop. Photo credit Lisa White.

School of Rock

What do you call 20 educators from 6 states, 3 countries, sailing for 17 days in the Pacific Ocean from the Philippine Sea to the Great Barrier Reef? An International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) School of Rock expedition! Lisa White was part of a team of instructors co-leading an oceanography workshop onboard a unique floating laboratory, the JOIDES/Resolution (JR). Designed to recover sedimentary cores from water depths as deep as 4 miles, results from the ship's scientific expeditions have contributed much of what we know about the deep time record of the oceans.

For these reasons the ship was an ideal venue to host the unique training and professional development workshop aimed specifically at scientists and secondary educators from communities that remain poorly represented in the geosciences. During the 17 day transit, pairs of early career scientists and high school earth science teachers were introduced to cutting edge ocean science, pedagogical tools, and mentoring strategies for diverse high school and undergraduate audiences. Lisa is a veteran of several IODP cruises, having sailed previously on the JR as a shipboard scientist/diatom micropaleontologist. With opportunities available to teachers to experience first-hand the science capabilities on the ship, communicating science is even more authentic.


Dori Contreras at iDigBio

Dori Contreras shows iDigBio participants fossil plants.

iDigBio Workshop at UC Berkeley

The generation, mobilization, and research use of digital data in the biodiversity sciences is continuing to increase at a rapid pace. This is especially true for paleontology. Within the last half decade of NSF ADBC (Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections) funding, paleo-related Thematic Collections Network projects have been awarded during four of the six annual award cycles. These collaborations have spurred intense activity in the paleontological community, led to the establishment of the iDigBio Paleo Data and Digitization Working Group, fostered several TCN and iDigBio-sponsored paleo-focused digitization workshops, engendered high levels of community participation, and resulted in an important focus on the uses of digital data in paleontological research.

On March 26-27, 2017 about 60 vertebrate and invertebrate paleontologists, including faculty curators, collections managers, informatics professionals, and approximately 15 graduate students gathered at the UCMP in Berkeley for iDigBio's fourth paleo-related workshop. Dubbed "Digital Data in Paleontological Research" the workshop's primary goal was to carry participants beyond digitization and into methods and issues in using the digital data that the community is producing. Visit for more.