Two UO undergraduate students will be presenting their research at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) in Dallas, Texas, from October 14-17. The annual meeting is a gathering of scientists, students, artists, preparators, advocates, writers and scholars from across the globe, who are dedicated to the study, discovery, interpretation and preservation of vertebrate fossils.

The two students, Kendra Walters and Selina Robson, are both geological sciences majors, but their research demonstrates the diversity of subjects that may be studied in the field. Walters’ research seeks to quantify the change in mammal diversity in the continental United States over the 20th century and combine that data with an analysis of the influence of climate change over the same period. Robson is conducting research on the Cenozoic fossil records of carnivores found in Kyrgyzstan to improve the existing knowledge of the animals living at the time, better understand the ancient ecology of the area and to add to the understanding of carnivore evolution in central Asia.

Both Walters and Robson appreciate the importance of sharing their findings with the scientific community and the opportunity to receive feedback.

“I look forward to receiving advice and critique from other scientists,” Robson said, “and I hope that the information I provide will help other paleontologists with their work.”

The meeting also provides a great opportunity to network and learn about other research being conducted in the field.

“The questions that are being asked, the approaches used to answer those questions and the conclusions that come out of it are fascinating,” Walters said.

For Robson, who is planning on going to graduate school next year, the meeting serves as an opportunity to meet with potential advisers and build connections.

Walters and Robson are members of the first cohort of Presidential Undergraduate Research Scholars (PURS) and received funding to attend the SVP meeting through the PURS program. The PURS program was developed as part of professor Geraldine Richmond’s appointment as presidential chair in science. The program gives undergraduate students in chemistry, physics and the geological sciences an opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty mentor and receive a stipend for their efforts.