Geoscience Horizons

Press Release

Bennington College

September 12, 2003

CONTACT: David Rees

Bennington College Student To Present Research at the Geological Society of America's Meeting in November

BENNINGTON, VT-Bennington College student Megan Adcock-of Waldorf, MD-has been asked to present her paper Amber Preparation for Scientific Study: The Case of Arkansas Amber, at the prestigious Geological Society of America's conference November 2-5, 2003, at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle.

Adcock, a third-year Bennington student with a focus of study in ecology and evolution, spent her 2003 Field Work Term (an annual seven-week winter term when Bennington students take jobs in the areas of their study off campus) working in the Department of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. There, Adcock worked with Jorge Santiago-Blay, PhD and dedicated herself to studying amber samples from Arkansas-locating and analyzing insects and plant material within the amber. She learned how to prepare and study fragile amber samples-setting pieces of amber in epoxy, polishing and cutting sections, and operating an electron microscope. She took hundreds of images and collaborated in the archiving of images, making measurements and testing hypothesis. Adcock explains, "This material was between 39 and 42 million years old. All inclusions were almost microscopic and many hours were spent at the microscope searching for them. This took a lot of time and energy, but we located several beetles, a mosquito, a moss, a petal, a mite, a roach, and possibly two clams." Adcock also photographed the chela (claws) and pedipalps (legs) of several species of scorpions for a magnified view of the hairs. This was done to test a hypothesis that the hairs, on the claws and legs, are placed according to some evolutionary logic.

Adcock will present her paper during the Advances in the Fossil Record of Insects and Other Terrestrial Arthropods session at the conference.

Santiago-Blay says, "Megan is a hard worker and extremely committed to her work... [She] has been one of the most reliable undergraduate researchers who has ever worked with me."

The Geological Society of America was established in 1888 with a mission to advance the geosciences, to enhance the professional growth of its members, and to promote the geosciences in the service of humankind. Geologists from the international science community attend the annual meetings of the Geological Society of America. The theme of this year's meeting is "Geoscience Horizons-Seattle 2003." Approximately 7,200 geoscientists are expected to attend, making this the largest annual meeting in GSA history.

Bennington College, a nationally recognized, liberal arts college with enrollment of 750 students (600 undergraduate, 150 graduate), is located on 550 acres in the Green Mountains of southwestern Vermont. The College offers a full range of study, with programs in the humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, social science, and visual and performing arts, as well as a five-year Bachelor's/Master's degree in teaching.



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