What Membership Means to Me
David Fastovsky, GSA member since 1986; GSA Fellow since 2007
I attended my first GSA meeting the year I joined the Society ~40 years ago. I went because it seemed to be the meeting that all geologists attended, and although a vertebrate paleontologist by inclination, I was trying to sharpen my geological skills. But then, how to go to two meetings per year — the vertebrate paleo meetings and the geological society meetings? Karen Prestegaard — who I’d known as a graduate student at UC Berkeley — told me to go to the annual GSA meeting every year; this would be enough to keep me at the forefront of the key developments in the geosciences as well as connect me with the people I needed to meet and with whom I might potentially collaborate.
It was great advice! While vertebrate paleontology turned more and more toward biology, I enriched and refined the geological lens through which I tried to address paleontological questions. All the while, I was supported at GSA by the Paleontological Society and SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology). The meetings were manageable enough not to get lost, but broad enough to drill down upon all the issues of greatest interest.
GSA welcomed me in unexpected ways. During my first visit to GSA headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, USA, as a first-time member of the Joint Technical Program Committee, I overheard concerns about filling a suddenly vacated editorial slot at Geology. I thought, “I could do that” (“fools rush in!”), applied, and got the job. And for the latter four of the next six years, Ben van der Pluijm and I each handled a new manuscript/day for the journal. It was crazy, but also exhilarating! Along with Ben and the fabulous GSA publications staff, I met — as reviewers — so many extraordinary people; people who later became my colleagues and friends. And evidently I didn’t learn my lesson from the Geology editorship: I subsequently signed up for two more editorships of GSA journals: GSA Today (four years) and Geosphere (six years).
My entire career has been intimately tied to GSA. The Society has been welcoming, supportive, and horizon-broadening, both personally and professionally. I would not be the same scientist had I not taken Karen Prestegaard’s advice all those years ago.
University of Rhode Island