The college town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, recently hosted the 89th Annual American Malacological Society Meeting (What is malacology? Read here). And what better backdrop for such an assembly than Alabama, the state with the highest diversity of freshwater and land mollusks in the entire United States. From August 1st to 5th, the 89th American Malacological Society (AMS) meeting took center stage, offering a platform for researchers to dive deep into the world of mollusks.
As a member of the planning committee, I had the privilege of contributing to the success of this event. At this meeting I was also able to share my enthusiasm for malacology through two presentations, a poster about the Seahorse and Co website and a talk about my dissertation research.
Through the poster presentation I hoped to bridge the gap between researchers and a wider audience, sparking curiosity and engagement in the intricate world of mollusks. Conversations with seasoned professionals during the meeting were invigorating, as we discussed strategies to effectively communicate biodiversity and captivate broader interest in our shared field.
The focal point of my poster presentation was to introduce the "Seahorse and Co" project to the macalogy community and garner interest for collaboration. I eagerly aimed to establish connections that could potentially lead to valuable reviews and feedback on the website's content. The response was overwhelmingly positive; several colleagues expressed enthusiasm in examining the website's materials to ensure the accuracy of specimen identification. This support and encouragement solidified the notion that our efforts to enhance malacological understanding were resonating within the community.
The AMS meeting was also an opportunity to showcase years of research related to my dissertation work. This work centers around the solenogastres (Read about them here) found in the oceans around Iceland. The crux of this project involves curating an extensive collection of Icelandic solenogasters, unraveling the intricate tapestry of species composition, and a stunning array of undiscovered species. The audience was very curious and supportive of this work, and I left the stage with a sense of accomplishment and a renewed commitment to advancing malacological knowledge.
Reflecting on the weeklong event, the Annual AMS meeting provided an invaluable platform to connect with fellow malacologists, exchange ideas, and chart a path forward for our collective passion. As we navigate the challenges of a changing world, fostering effective communication about biodiversity and its importance remains paramount. The strides made during this meeting serve as a testament to our dedication to pushing the boundaries of malacology, and I am excited to witness the continued growth of this vibrant community.