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Annual Meeting 2022 - Cork, Ireland: Public Engagement

Number: 66th Annual Meeting
Year: 2022
Location: Cork, Ireland
Hosted By: University College Cork
Organised By: Organising committee chaired by Prof. Maria McNamara
General Contact Email:

Public Engagement

The Annual Meeting will begin with two engagement events targeted to the general public on Monday 18th July. 

Family Fossil Expo

There will be a public exhibition, “Family Fossil Expo”, from 16:00 – 19:00 in Room BB1, Butler Building, Distillery Fields campus. This exhibition will be built around various interactive public exhibits developed by the Cork palaeobiology group and the collections of the Cork Geological Museum at UCC: 

  1. Fossil colour – includes microscopes, colourful insects and feathers
  2. Walk like a dinosaur – includes tracemaking experiments, walkway experiment
  3. Fossil Crime Scene – includes a cross section game, XRF, UV light

The activities will feature diverse materials and activities such as games, puzzles, challenges, scientific equipment and of course fossil specimens. Meeting delegates are welcome to participate in the event either as part of the team delivering the Cork exhibits or by bringing their own materials e.g. fossil specimens suitable for handling by the public. Delegates who choose to participate in the event will receive a free pizza meal afterwards. 

Royal Irish Academy Discourse Lecture

The headline kick-off event for the Annual Meeting is an Academy Discourse Lecture held in conjunction with the Royal Irish Academy. The Lecture will start at 20:00 in the Aula Maxima, Main Quad, on UCC’s Main Campus. The lecture will be delivered by Prof. Larisa DeSantis from Vanderbilt University. Prof. DeSantis is a world expert in the study of biotic responses to environmental change, especially in mammalian ecosystems past and present. You can find an abstract and biography below. 

The Discourse Lectures are delivered by leading scholars in topical research areas and are targeted to Members of the Royal Irish Academy, delegates of the Annual Meeting and the general public. The Discourse will be followed by a brief Response and Q&A session.

Decoding the past to conserve our future


Mammalian communities have undergone dramatic ecological and evolutionary changes throughout time.  While it can be difficult for us to recognize and perceive the magnitude of these changes in a human lifetime, conservation paleobiology leverages the fossil record to provide critical insights into mammalian responses to climate change across the globe. From the study of ancient animals like sabertooth cats and marsupial lions, ancient life serves as “canaries in the coal mine”—alerting global citizens to the consequences of climate change for life on Earth.  This talk will explore how dietary information locked in fossilized teeth is decoded, and how the ancient past can reveal cautionary conservation lessons and even warn us about our potential future.

Larisa DeSantis Biography

Larisa DeSantis is a Chancellor Faculty Fellow and associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She studies fossilized mammals to determine their response to ancient climate change, potential reasons they went extinct, and the long-term consequences of climate change and large-animal extinctions on a diversity of plants and animals. She earned her degrees from the University of California–Berkeley (BS), Yale University (MEM) and the University of Florida (PhD). DeSantis is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. She studies mammals on all continents except Antarctica, and much of her work is explicitly aimed at helping conservationists to better understand ecosystems—past and present. When DeSantis is not in the laboratory, field or classroom, she is involved in scientific and public outreach in her local community and as the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Distinguished Lecturer for North America. She has published numerous scientific articles and book chapters, and her work has received global news coverage, including being featured on Curiosity Stream (Saber-tooth Brawl), National Geographic Wild (Future Cats), the Discovery Channel, and radio programs and podcasts.


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