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Watchback Discourse Series | Decoding the past to conserve our future

Watch the recording of the Discourse delivered by Dr Larisa DeSantis (Vanderbilt University), with a response from Paul Giller MRIA, which took place on 18 July 2022.

This Discourse explored 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.

The Discourse was part of the 66th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association at University College Cork which took place from 18 to 24 July 2022.

Our speaker:

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 fossilised 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.

Royal Irish Academy Discourse Series

Our discourses are the oldest and most renowned series of talks in Ireland. The first discourses were presented in 1786. Historically, Academy discourses were the occasion reserved for the most distinguished academics to first reveal and discuss their research in public. Continuing in this tradition, the Discourse Series brings international experts to the Academy to discuss important contemporary issues in front of a live audience.