I got back from the SVP (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology) conference Sunday night and I feel like I have a few things to say about it. This was my first SVP ever, even though I did my Master Thesis on vertebrate paleontology, and I must admit I wasn't really sure what to expect. I have been to multiple GSA's (both annual and regional) and over the summer I went to a smaller international workshop for ichnologists (trace fossil workers) and I assumed it would be similar to the annual GSA meetings.
I was wrong.
I also assumed that the meeting with a bunch of vertebrate paleontologists would be similar to a conversation I had back in 2009 at GSA. The unnamed paleontologist from the interaction was at this meeting as well, as well as several others that I knew to have a similar attitude. So, in general I did not put my hopes too high for this convention. I looked forward to meeting old friends and maybe learning some new information but I wasn't looking forward to spending time with a group of people that seemed to me, at least in my limited experience, to contain a bunch of arrogant bastards.
I was proved even further to be wrong.
In a nutshell, the conference was great. I spent time with a lot of old friends, even one I hadn't seen in 13 years. I met a lot of really cool new people. I spent time with some famous paleontologists who actually turned out to be really cool, laid back people. The conference was also large enough that I could avoid the said arrogant bastards. Because you know they are there. Everyone knows who they are. I think they even know it and just don't care. But they are a much, much smaller subset of the vertebrate paleontology world than I gave it credit for. And the conference was small enough that you could find someone you were looking for. Unlike GSA, where there is no chance in hell you're going to find anyone without prior arrangements, most people here just hung out in the exhibit hall until the someone they were looking for passed by.
This meeting has left a good impression on me about vertebrate paleontology and has created an urge to get back into the field. I still love what I am doing now (behavioral evolution using trace fossils) but I feel an old door has been reopened. I was also urged by several people to publish my Masters Thesis, so that will be my springboard back into the world of VP, hopefully relatively soon.
I did have some complaints though that I feel need to be voiced. The fact that a meeting this size did not include internet is beyond me. The hotel apparently offered it for $25 a day for the whole hotel or $15 for in the room but it was schoddy at best. So the one day my roommate got it he cancelled it. The second thing is the poster session. There was no reason to have such little space between rows of posters. There was plenty of room in the convention center to be able to expand it a little. It was to the point that during the poster session you couldn't walk up and down the rows of posters because there was so many other people there. There was even space on the one end of the poster boards to expand into and release the tension a little but it never happened.
Other than that, SVP went pretty well. There was a slew of talks, both good and bad. I saw a couple of memorable ones for both reasons. I thought the venue was good. There were plenty of things do in Vegas outside of the convention. Although the second hand smoke was a killer, as I am still coughing it up 3 days later. And I made a lot of new friends. Both those that I was "friends" on facebook before and never actually met and new people that I just met for the first time in Vegas.
Overall, I give it an A- and it has been ranked above GSA in my mind as a must-do event.