Current PhD students

Class of 2021

  • Ruby Barrett: The role of marine plankton in the Earth’s chemistry (NERC GW4+)
  • Damiano Landi: On the re-emergence of beaks (Self)
  • Yuming Liu: Origin of flight in insects (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • Minbo Qi: Deriving an accurate and precise timescale for the origin and evolution of vertebrate diversity (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • James Rawson: Development, function and evolution of the mammalian jaw joint and middle ear (BBSRC SWBio DTP)
  • Ruolin Wu: Origin and early evolution of eukaryotes (Chinese Scholarship Council)

Class of 2020

  • Madleen Grohganz: The evolutionary origin of teeth (NERC GW4+)
  • Ruolin Wu: Early eukaryote evolution (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • Rui Ying: Changes in planktic ecosystems through earth history – new insights using trait models (Chinese Scholarship Council)

Class of 2019

  • Emily CarlislePalaeobiology of the Kuanchuanpu Lagerstätte (University of Bristol)
  • Sophie Chambi-Trowell: Feeding and niche paritioning in Triassic-Jurassic sphenodontians (Tratman Fund)
  • Will DeakinThe influence of mechanical loads on skeletal form (NERC GW4+)
  • Joseph Flannery-Sutherland: The Carnian Pluvial episode (NERC GW4+)
  • Yizhou Huang: Biomarkers in the Early Triassic rocks of South China (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • Zichuan Qin: Phylogeny and function of alvarezsaurian theropods (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • Eleonora RossiThe evolution of early metazoans and animal multicellularity, using the integration of multiple types of data
  • Andre Rowe: Macroevoluton and function in giant theropod dinosaurs (Self)

Class of 2018

  • Antonio Ballel Mayoral: Anatomy and function of the basal sauropodomorph dinosaur Thecodontosaurus antiquus (NERC GW4+)
  • Ana de Almeida Serra Jorge da Silva: Building large phylogenies: the amphibian tree of life (joint with Natural History Museum, London)
  • Mattia Giacomelli: Ecdysozoa as a model system to test animal evolution
  • Ben Griffin: Pterosaur flight biomechanics: how did the largest airborne animals get off the ground (self)
  • George Hoppitt: Marine Protected area – are they only paper parks (NERC ESRC)
  • Chris McCabe: Evolution of mammalian venom: a molecular, ecological and morphofunctional approach (SWBio DTP)
  • Tom SmithPatterns, processes, rates, and constraints in the evolution of morphological disparity

Class of 2017

  • Vicky Coules: Imaging dinosaurs through the years (Self). Vicky is a writer and film producer, part of the Hooded Crow company.
  • Ed Moody: The evolution of protein structural complexity before the last universal common ancestor (Royal Society URF)
  • Morten Nielsen: Palaeoecology of the Sirius Passet lagerstätte, an early Cambrian exceptional fossil fauna
  • Marta Zaher: Macroevolution and function in parareptiles (Faculty of Science)


An unusually high number of palaeontologists have been commended for best PhD submissions from both the Faculty of Science and external organisations.

Linnean Society, London

2020 James Clark, Irene Manton Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis in Botany.

2019 Leanne Melbourne, Irene Manton Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis in Botany.

University of Bristol Faculty of Science


  • Dr Susana Gutarra


  • Dr Holly Betts


  • Dr Luke Parry





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