2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 308-10
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


ROBINS, Cristina M., Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, 1659 Museum Road, DICKINSON HALL, Gainesville, FL 32611, GRANT, Claudia, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, P.O. Box 117800, Gainesville, FL 32611, WOOD, Aaron R., Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Dickinson Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-7800, ELLIS, Shari, Center for Science Learning, Florida Museum of Natural History, Powell Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611 and MACFADDEN, Bruce J., Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, PO Box 117800, Gainesville, FL 32611

The Panama Canal Project – Partners in International Research and Education [PCP-PIRE] is a broad-reaching program funded by NSF to take advantage of a “once in a century” opportunity to explore the fossil and geological history of Panama during the expansion of the Panama Canal. PCP-PIRE consists of a confluence of multiple geologic specialties – vertebrate paleontology, invertebrate paleontology, paleobotany, taphonomy, geochronology, paleoecology, and earth science education. Communicating scientific finds within the project and with the general public requires a multifaceted approach.

Opening the lines of dialogue between individual scientists on the project and the general public is accomplished in numerous ways. An open source content management system for our digital website (Concrete 5; http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/panama-pire/home/) allows people without any computer programming background (i.e. most scientists) to easily create and update web content. We have over 160 web pages and in the last year had 10,500 visits. Our monthly eNewsletter (circulation of ~325 people) keeps PCP-PIRE participants and stakeholders regularly updated on events and research. Online photo-sharing software (Flickr) is used for creating slideshows and photo essays of fossil finds and research activities; we have 255,000 individual photo views. A blog allows for short-form content and updates from both our scientists and students; after launching this June we have viewers from 10 countries with over 450 views. We use Facebook (~200 “likes”) and Twitter (~50 followers) to regularly disseminate content to a wider audience, and monitor the response to different types of content using built-in platform statistics and Google Analytics. This allows us to tailor our content effectively and quickly shows successful and unsuccessful communication methods and popular topics.