GSN

Faces of GSN

Josh Bonde (Published in February 2016 GSN Newsletter)

Paleontologist, GSN Southern Nevada Chapter President
First, I would like to thank Bob Felder for the honor of being a “Face of GSN.” I guess I always had a bit of a geology bug. I am a born and raised Nevadan, born in Reno and grew up in Fallon. For family vacations growing up we would take road trips across the state to visit family and go fishing in the mountain ranges across the state. Some childhood favorites were Roberts Creek, Kingston Creek, of course Lamoille. I was checking out really cool geology as a kid and not even realizing it. One major epiphany I had as a kid, around 7 or 8, was when my parents took me and my little brother to a dinosaur exhibit at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. That exhibit was a bunch of life-sized animatronic dino-saurs, with some interspersed real bones. That experience blew my mind. I had always liked dinosaurs, but that experience locked in that I was going to be a pale-ontologist. Fast-forward, when I was in high school UNR conducted its annual career fair at Churchill County High School. My parents and I were visiting the individual college booths when we happened upon the Mackay School of Mines booth (yes when it was its own college, should still be but that’s another story). A nice lady explained her experiences dinosaur hunting in Montana and that I should do my Bachelor ’s degree at Mackay and then go study dinosaurs some-where else. I blame D.D. LaPointe for recruiting me to Mackay all those years ago haha. While I was a student at Mackay I had the great fortune to be the student worker at the W.M. Keck Museum for 3.5 years, under the supervision of Rachel Dolbier. I am sure that is a familiar name to a number of GSN folks. At the time I was not a very good student and was kind of drifting around my classes, then in 2001 an opportunity came around to help dig up a mastodon outside of Gardner-ville. The opportunity, as an undergraduate, to go on a dig and be part of a big research project really got me back on track and inspired me to finish my degree strong. That dig was a joint effort between UNR and Sierra College in Rocklin. The Sierra College professor in charge of the dig, Dick Hilton, became a mentor of mine and is still a friend to this day. He really helped keep me on track and got me thinking about graduate school. After the dig I was asked to help the Nevada State Museum in Carson City with a display of our cool new find. So I worked my butt off cleaning up that mastodon so it could go on display at the State Museum for the opening of their new expansion. Working with the State Museum also opened up some amazing doors for me. Meeting the museum staff and learning from then (and current) Curator of Anthropology and now State Paleon-tologist Gene Hattori was a real inspiration at that stage in my professional development. I would say to any students reading this narrative, the one thing which has helped my professional growth and development more than anything else has been the help of mentors. I wrapped up my time at Reno and moved to the tundra of Montana State University at Bozeman. My advisor there was a dinosaur paleontologist, Dave Varricchio, and he had a Nevada project on his back burner which he wanted me to work on. Having been a bit of a goof off as an undergrad I was just happy to be in gradu-ate school so was excited to do field work in Nevada when not in Montana. My field area was Valley of Fire State Park, where I thought I would be digging up Cretaceous-aged turtles. Turns out my project turned into a bit more than that. My MS studies ended up characterizing the sedimentology of a formation in addition to describing the first Cretaceous fauna from the state of Nevada. To this day I am still working out at Valley of Fire and finding more and more critters. Currently the list includes: gar fish, lung fish, three types of turtle, two types of crocodile, armored di-nosaurs, small and large bipedal plant eaters, sauropods, raptors, tyrannosaurs, advanced allosaurs, and three types of dinosaur eggshell. After freezing my butt off in Mon-tana for 3 years I decided I wanted to come back to Ne-vada. I was accepted to the UNLV doctoral program un-der the supervision of Steve Rowland. I can hear all of you Mackay folks yelling “Turncoat!” through the computer screen as I write this. Here at UNLV is where I met my wife Aubrey, a fellow paleontologist. We now have two beauti-ful little girls Juniper and Willow who also like digging. At UNLV my studies were kind of a hodgepodge of Cretaceous studies across the state: plants from Valley of Fire, dinosaurs from Nye and Eureka Counties, frogs from White Pine County. But I guess I endeared myself to the faculty here at UNLV that they kept me on as faculty when I wrapped up my studies.

My experience with GSN has always been a great one. I joined GSN when I was a sophomore at UNR. I remember going to the meetings and realizing there were geologists out there doing real work. I remem-ber the comradery and the great happy hour and dinner as a starving student. When I came back to Nevada for my doc-toral studies and found out there was a GSN chapter in Las Vegas I was excited. I told all of my fellow graduate students about my experiences with GSN in Reno, so a bunch of us went to our first meeting. It was a bit of a shock, there was a sandwich platter and a cooler of luke warm beer. Haha. We still had fun and listened to a great talk. At the end of that year I decided to throw my hat in for GSN leadership and was “elected” president of the Southern Nevada Chapter. For my first term I served as president from 2008-2011. During my first reign ,to brag, we took meeting attendance from the single digits to low double digits to averaging attendance at meetings to the 20’s-30’s. We saw some renewed interest in meeting sponsorship, so I felt it was time for me to step down. When I did I agreed to serve as VP to help transition out. Well turns out my successor didn’t do so well so I ended up as an acting president that year. I then handed the reins to Boomer Bain who did a great job in getting the chapter growing and bringing in exciting speakers. Another initiative that Boomer started was to get the GSN UNLV scholarship endowment started. Currently there is no active GSN scholarship at UNLV, we are in the midst of raising money to get that going again (see page 8 for more on this). So when Boomer was getting ready to graduate I was asked to step back into the presidency again. So I am on year 2 of my reign of terror as Southern Nevada Chapter President. In this term, I have moved meetings off of the UNLV campus to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, where I also serve as the director of conservation and re-search. We have seen a steady increase in meeting sponsorships and now meeting at-tendance ranges from the 30’s to 50’s. I know that isn’t much having gone to Reno and Elko meetings but it is a move in the right direction. It has been an absolute pleas-ure to serve my 5 (well 6) years as a chapter president. Getting to know officers from the other chapters, being involved in two symposia, seeing the continued growth and success and bonding of our southern Nevada geoscience community has been very rewarding. My mom, when she was a little girl, used to have a rock stand in front of the café in Current Creek, where my grandma was the cook. She used to always say how nice those geologists were when they would come to town and lay their core on the tables in the café. Some would even take the time to explain the minerals to her. My mom was right, we belong to a very passionate and intertwined professional com-munity. That said it is our responsibility to mentor and support the next generation of young minds coming up the ranks. Please consider being a mentor. Thank you GSN for all you have done for my career and for the friends I have made across the state. I look forward to many more years to come!