My research is focused on the palaeontology and evolution of early echinoderms. I analyse Palaeozoic (541 to 252 million years old) fossils with the aid of non-destructive computed tomography, describing their anatomy three dimensionally and in unprecedented detail; this data has significant implications for systematics, and also enables me to test hypotheses concerning the functional morphology, phylogenetic placement and evolutionary history of early echinoderms. In addition, I use analytical methods to investigate different aspects of echinoderm palaeobiology, including phylogenetic relationships, the congruence between stratigraphy and phylogeny, population structure and functional performance. This requires an innovative synthesis of imaging, statistical and engineering techniques. The results are helping to reconstruct the mode and tempo of echinoderm evolution, shedding light on the emergence of animals more generally.
I am an interdisciplinary palaeobiologist interested in the early evolution of echinoderms, seeking to investigate their evolutionary emergence through the integration of biological, palaeontological and engineering methods. I have a strong background in computational approaches, particularly 3-D visualization and analysis. I am also proficient in X-ray tomography and various statistical techniques.
I obtained an MSci in Palaeobiology (First Class Honours) at University College London, and subsequently went on to pursue a PhD on Palaeozoic fossil echinoderms at Imperial College London under the supervision of Dr Mark Sutton. After my PhD, I undertook an MSc in Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics (Distinction) at the University of Manchester to gain practical experience in molecular biology and bioinformatics. This was followed by a NERC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship split between the Universities of Birmingham and Bristol, where I studied the palaeobiology of fossil echinoderms. I am currently an 1851 Research Fellow working on the form, function and evolution of early echinoderms in the lab of Professor Philip Donoghue. I am a member of the Palaeobiology and Biodiversity Research Group, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol.
I run the advanced undergraduate course Frontiers in Earth Science (Geology).
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