Current PhD students

Class of 2022

  • Isaura Aguilar-Pedrayes: Feeding efficiency in ornithischian evolution (Self)
  • Gengyu Fang: Mechanisms of hyperossification in fishes (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • Thomas Farrell: A can of worms—tracing the origins of Ecdysozoa using fossils, molecules and morphology in a Bayesian framework (NERC GW4+)
  • Kirsten Flett: Fossil insights into the developmental evolution of animal bodyplans (University of Bristol Scholarship)
  • YanDa Li: Evolution of morphological disparity in beetles (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • Xinyuan Meng: Evolutionary assembly of the gnathostome bodyplan (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • Nikita Jane Rothwell: (UoB Scholarship)
  • Wentao Tao: Phylogenomics and phenotypic disparity of polyphenism in ants (Chinese Scholarship Council)
  • Benton Walters: Evolutionary morphology of animals wings (University of Bristol Scholarship)
  • Jialian Wei: Molecular evolution of terrestrialization (Chinese Scholarship Council)

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)

Class of 2020

  • Madleen Grohganz: The evolutionary origin of teeth (NERC GW4+)
  • Ruolin Wu: Origin and early evolution of eukaryotes (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

Class of 2018

  • Vicky Coules: Imaging dinosaurs through the years (Self). Vicky is a writer and film producer, part of the Hooded Crow company.
  • Chris McCabe: Evolution of mammalian venom: a molecular, ecological and morphofunctional approach (SWBio DTP)
  • 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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