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Prof. Daniel J. Field


Positions: Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology & Strickland Curator of Ornithology

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, 🇨🇦

Undergraduate: University of British Columbia: Zoology

MPhil & PhD: Yale University: Geology & Geophysics

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Daniel is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and the Strickland Curator of Ornithology at the University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology. He is also a research associate of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Natural History Museum (London), and a fellow of Christ's College Cambridge, where Charles Darwin studied as an undergraduate. Since 2019 he has held a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship.

Daniel uses the vertebrate fossil record to answer questions about how, where, and when Earth’s modern biodiversity arose. He is passionate about natural history and science outreach, and enjoys photographing Earth’s vertebrate biodiversity in the field.

our lab has representatives from around the world, with interests ranging from palaeontology to phylogenetics to EMBRYOLOGY. we are united by a passion for understanding the origins of the present-day diversity of vertebrate animals, especially birds.

postdoctoral researchers

Dr Carla du Toit


Position: Newton International Fellow, 2023-2025

Hometown: Cape Town, 🇿🇦 

Undergraduate: University of Cape Town

PhD: FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Cape Town

Favourite Activities: Birding, walking her dog, wine tasting, travelling, writing

Carla is interested in the sensory ecology of birds, particularly their sense of touch using their beaks, and how we can combine methodological approaches to determine how extant birds perceive the world around them and find food. Furthermore, she uses comparative methods to examine the morphology of the beaks of extinct birds from fossils to answer questions about their palaeoecology and the evolutionary trends of some of the earliest known crown birds. Her research will focus primarily on seabirds, waterfowl and waders, both extant and extinct.


Dr Olivia Plateau


Position: Swiss Mobility Postdoc, 2023-2025

Hometown: Paris, 🇫🇷 

Undergraduate: Sorbonne University (Pierre and Marie Curie Campus): Biology

Master’s: Sorbonne: Systematics, Evolution and Paleontology & Paris Cité University:

Interdisciplinary Approaches in Life Sciences

PhD: University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Favourite Activities: Travelling, Running, Winter walks in the mountains


Olivia is primarily interested in bird evolution and ontogeny, focusing on the study of avian skulls. Her main focus corresponds to the comparison of cranial bone morphology, organization and fusion between juveniles and adults of extant birds. To get better insight in the interaction between ontogeny and major evolutionary changes, she also compares extant birds with their extinct relatives.

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Dr Junya Watanabe



Position: Newton International Fellow, 2019-2021

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow, 2022-23

Hometown: Echizen, Fukui, 🇯🇵 

Undergraduate, Master’s and PhD: Kyoto University: Science

Favourite Activities: Cycling, travelling

Junya’s research interests regard the influence of developmental factors on the evolution and

diversification of organisms. He aims to provide a framework for testing whether biases in microevolutionary variability have influenced macroevolutionary diversification patterns. As a case study, he plans to study a variety of marine birds and apply a combination of anatomical, morphometric, and comparative methods.

Dr Guillermo Navalon



Position: UKRI Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2021-2023

Hometown: Madrid, 🇪🇸 

Undergraduate: Autonomous University of Madrid (BSc Biology)

Master's and PhD: University of Bristol (MSc and PhD)

Favourite Activities: Birdwatching, scuba diving, drawing, outdoor sports

Guillermo is interested in how evolution structures phenotypic diversity over large timescales.

In particular, he studies how intrinsic factors such as development interact with ecological factors

in macroevolution, focusing on the study of birds and their skeletal anatomy. To accomplish this, he works at several scales from macroevolutionary studies of phenotype across dozens of species to anatomical systematic research on fossils, mostly birds.

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Dr Albert “Chendytes” Chen


Position: PhD Student, 2017-22

Junior Research Fellow, 2022-25

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio, 🇺🇸 

Undergraduate: University of Maryland: College Park, Geology

Master’s: University of Bristol: Palaeobiology

Favourite Activities: Reading, cartooning, birding, science communication


Albert’s primary interests lie in the function, ecology, and evolution of vertebrate animals (especially maniraptoran dinosaurs). He pursues palaeontology due to its ability to shed light on the origins of modern organisms and environments. For his PhD, he studies the anatomy and systematics of a variety of fossil birds and their close relatives.

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Dr Juan “The Guan” Benito


Position: PhD Student, 2017-22

Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2022-23

Hometown: Barcelona, Catalonia, 🇪🇸 

Undergraduate: Universitat de Barcelona: Biology

Master’s: Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona: Palaeontology

Favourite Activities: Craft beer, weird music, craft beer, craft beer


Juan is interested in evolution, phylogeny, and morphological disparity. For his PhD, Juan has been examining the postcranial morphology of crownward Mesozoic birds using high resolution three-dimensional data. His previous research focussed on often overlooked small vertebrates, including lepidosaurs and procolophonids.

Dr Andrzej Wolniewicz


Position: NAWA Bekker Fellow, 2023-2025

Hometown: Gostyn, 🇵🇱

Undergraduate and PhD: University of Oxford
Favourite activities: Travelling, music, reading, swimming
Andrzej is a vertebrate palaeontologist who studies the origins and early evolution of reptiles, with a
particular focus on understanding how the major groups of extant and extinct reptiles are related to
one another. He is also interested in the evolutionary transition from a terrestrial to an aquatic
lifestyle that several groups of reptiles, such as ichthyosaurs and sauropterygians, underwent in the
Mesozoic. Andrzej’s research involves fieldwork, comparative anatomy, CT-scanning and
phylogenetic reconstruction.

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graduate students

Lizzy Steell


Position: PhD Student (NERC C-CLEAR DTP), 2019-

Hometown: Olney, Buckinghamshire, 🇬🇧 

Undergraduate: University College London: Zoology

Master’s: University College London: Zoology

Favourite Activities: Travel, running, birding, reading


Lizzy combines insights from zoology and palaeontology by working on extinct and living taxa. She is interested in the evolutionary history of hyper-diverse vertebrate groups, especially when and how they evolved their specialised characteristics. Lizzy’s PhD applies comparative morphology and phylogenetics to study the evolution of the most diverse order of birds, the passerines.


Pei-Chen Kuo


Position: Cambridge-Taiwan Scholarship PhD student, 2020-

Hometown: Taipei, 🇹🇼 

Undergraduate: National Taiwan Uni.: Geosciences & Anthropology

Master’s: University Edinburgh: Palaeontology & Geobiology (MScR)

Favourite Activities: Watching movies, badminton, travelling

Pei-Chen is interested in the evolution of specialised anatomical adaptations. For his PhD, he is

investigating the evolution of morphology in the avian feeding apparatus, employing sophisticated geometric analyses to incorporate living and fossil birds into a single evolutionary framework.


Klara "The Kea" Widrig


Position: MPhil student, 2019-20

Cambridge Gates Scholarship PhD student, 2020-

Hometown: Lyon Mountain, New York, 🇺🇸 

Undergraduate: McGill University: Biology

Master’s: Cambridge: Earth Sciences

Favourite Activities: Running, hiking, illustration, calligraphy, visiting museums,

showing off pictures of her cat, archery


Klara is interested in major evolutionary transitions in vertebrates, particularly the evolution of flight. She is investigating the evolution of the major avian clade Palaeognathae (ratites and kin) from the perspective of the fossil record.


Oliver Demuth 


Position: PhD Student, 2020- 

Hometown: Zürich, 🇨🇭 

Undergraduate: Zurich Uni of the Arts: Design, Scientific Visualization 

Master’s: University of Bristol, Palaeobiology 

Favourite Activities: Drawing, painting, travelling, hiking, fieldwork

TwitterOliver’s personal website

Oliver is interested in functional morphology and how it relates to the locomotion of living and extinct reptiles (including birds). His previous work focused on three-dimensional computational modelling techniques to investigate the postural evolution of archosaurs as well as locomotory biomechanics of extinct and extant reptiles and myological reconstructions of extinct taxa. Oliver is also a scientific illustrator and has published illustrations in research articles and the international media. With his illustrations and 3D models he has also participated in several exhibitions in Europe and North America.


Grace Burton 


Position: MPhil Student, 2021-22

Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholarship PhD student, 2022- 

Hometown: Streatham, London, 🇬🇧 

Undergraduate: Imperial College London, Biological Sciences 

Favourite Activities: Piano, jigsaw puzzling, visiting museums


Grace is interested in vertebrate phylogeny and key evolutionary transitions. She is working on understanding the internal architecture of the bird skeleton, and is especially interested in deriving new anatomical insights from 3D modelling techniques. Her previous research has focused on the evolution of early jawed vertebrates, including placoderms.


Annabel Hunt


Position: PhD Student, 2022- 

Hometown: Devon, UK, 🇬🇧 

Undergraduate: University of Oxford, Earth Sciences (MEarthSci)

Favourite Activities: Assisting with dinosaur digs, preparing fossils, hiking, swimming, kayaking 

Annabel is passionate about using micro-computed tomography to reveal novel anatomical features of fossil vertebrates and to use these observations to study morphological evolution and phylogenetic relationships. She is using her prior knowledge of early reptilian palates, and her experience segmenting bone from CT scans, to study the evolution of the palate in stem-group birds. Annabel is co-supervised by Prof. Steve Brusatte (University of Edinburgh).

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Bassel Arnaout


Position: PhD Student, 2021- 

Hometown: Damascus, 🇸🇾 

Undergraduate: Brock University

Master's: Carleton University

Favourite Activities: Thinking about evolutionary theory, birding, playing the piano,

cycling, waltzing, reading.

Bassel is passionate about phenotypic evolution both at the micro and macro levels, and considers bird skulls to be a perfect bridge between these scales. To understand phenotypic evolution, he learns from embryonic development—the biological process that assembles phenotypes, and one that can resemble the evolutionary process. He is currently using his backgrounds in embryology (evo-devo), zoology, and palaeontology to understand the evolution of the skull in Galloanserae. Bassel is co-supervised by Dr Ben Steventon (Department of Genetics).


Christian Voiculescu-Holvad


Position: MPhil student, 2023-24 

Hometown: Oxford, 🇬🇧 

Undergraduate: University College London

Favourite Activities: Fossil collecting, playing piano, watching horror films, hiking

Christian is interested in the palaeoecology and biogeography of nektonic predatory fauna from latest-Cretaceous European chalk deposits. He is affiliated as curator with the GeoCenter Møns Klint museum (Denmark). His previous research focused on the transatlantic distribution of long-snouted gavialoid crocodylians. For his MPhil, he is investigating the Danish White Chalk mosasaur assemblage, co-supervised by Prof. Alexandra Turchyn (Department of Earth Sciences).


Katrina van Grouw


Position: PhD student, 2021- 

Hometown: Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, 🇬🇧 

Undergraduate: University of Plymouth

Master's: Royal College of Art

Favourite Activities: Writing; keeping birds; a million things to do with bird skeletons,

museums, and specimen preparation; walking on the downs with her dog; visiting pubs.

Katrina has a longstanding involvement with birds and comparative anatomy, and has written and

illustrated several outstanding books on these topics. For her PhD Katrina is interested in the mysterious extinct seabird clade Pelagornithidae, the bony-toothed birds, and hopes to shed new light on their ecology and evolutionary history.

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Armin Schmitt


Position: Cambridge Trust PhD student, 2020-

Hometown: Friedrichshafen, 🇩🇪  

Undergraduate: University of Mainz: Geology & Palaeontology

Master’s: University of Bonn, Geology & Palaeontology (Diplom)

Favourite Activities: Cooking, painting, travelling, cinema


Armin is interested in genome size evolution throughout the evolutionary history of birds. He is interested in the application of high-resolution synchrotron microtomography data to palaeontology, and its potential to reveal internal bone structures which may relate to physiology. In his master’s thesis he applied 3D modelling software to segment cranial endosseous structures in sauropodomorph dinosaurs to infer habitual head and neck posture from the size and shape of the labyrinths (inner ear) of these long-necked sauropods, whose unique body plan has no analogy in today’s animal kingdom.  

Undergraduate students

Wayne Liang

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Cian Williams

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Lab Alumni

Sophie Truepenny

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Sophie's Research: Sophie investigated the morphology of the hyolingual apparatus in nectarivorous birds for her Part II project.

Rachel Barham

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Rachel's Research: Rachel investigated the inner ear morphology of owls for her Part II project.

Astrid Xu

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Astrid's Research: Astrid investigated quadrate morphology in owls for her Part II project.

Charlotte McConnell

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Charlotte's Research: Charlotte digitally illustrated and described a new fossil from the London Clay Formation for her Part II project.

Georgina Scott

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Georgina's Research: Georgina characterised aspects of skeletal morphology in presbyornithid fossil birds for her Part II project.

Charles Wolrige Gordon

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Charles' Research: Charles investigated ear and skull morphology in owls for his Part II project.


Kirsty Mellor

Position: Zoology Part II project Student, 2022-23

Kirsty's Research: Kirsty characterised the extent of skeletal pneumatisation in the cervical vertebrae of anseriforms for her Part II project.

José Antonio Palma Liberona

Position: Visiting PhD student, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2023

José's Research: José is interested in researching the evolution and development of the avian musculoskeletal system, primarily focusing on how mechanical stimulation can drive shape skeletal morphology. His current research focuses on the pre-hatching development of the avian humerus and how the absence of embryonic muscle activity can affect it. To this end he compares the morphology and immunostaining patterns of avian embryos in normal and paralyzed conditions.

Abi Crane

Position: MPhil Student, 2021-22 

Abi's Research: ​Abi investigated the morphology of the mandible of early-diverging bird groups with an emphasis on phylogenetic implications for the ‘wonderchicken’, Asteriornis maastrichtensis. She has moved onto a PhD at the University of Southampton.

Emily Smith

Position: Zoology Part II project student, 2021-22

Emily's Research: Emily investigated the internal architecture of avian long bones from a structural perspective.

Natalie Rose

Position: Zoology Part II project student, 2021-22

Natalie's Research: Natalie investigated patterns of ossification in the embryonic skulls of birds.

Alexandra Davies

Position: Zoology Part II project student, 2021-22

Alex's Research: Alex investigated the morphology of the tongue apparatus in sunbirds (Nectariniidae).

Joel Gayford

Position: Zoology Part II project student, 2021-22

Joe's Research: Joel investigated ontogenetic shifts in patterns of allometric growth in sharks.

Louis Fisher

Position: Zoology Part II project student, 2021-22

Louis' Research: Louis investigated comparative aspects of bone fusion in the bird skull.

Dr Neil Brocklehurst

Position: UKRI Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2021-2022

Neil's Research: Neil investigated major patterns early in bird evolutionary history, investigating support for alternative phylogenetic arrangements of deep neornithine lineages and support for alternative temporal scenarios of bird diversification.

Simon Ducatez

Position: UKRI Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2020-2022

Simon's Research: Simon investigated the evolution of life history strategies during his postdoc, and has now begun a faculty position in Tahiti(!) at the University of French Polynesia.


Matthieu Chotard

Position: Visiting Research Master’s Student, 2021

Matthieu's Research: Matthieu joined our lab for six months, studying the evolution of avian tarsus morphology while on exchange from Université de Rennes 1.

Garance Robin

Position: Visiting Research Master’s Student, 2020

Garance’s Research: Garance joined our lab for six months, studying the evolution of bird body size while on exchange from Université de Rennes 1.


Kit Baker

Position: MESc student, 2019-2020

Kit’s Research: Kit studied the morphology of Cretaceous avialans using high resolution three-dimensional visualisation techniques.


Dr Jake Berv

Position: Visiting NSF Graduate Fellow, Cornell University, 2018

Jake's Research: Jake and Daniel continue to collaborate on a number of projects related to exploring the interface between micro and macroevolution, and avian palaeontology. Jake is currently a Michigan Fellow at the University of Michigan.


Dania Kewbank

Position: Undergraduate Final-year Student, 2018

Dania’s Research: Dania studied the pelvic morphology of bird-like dinosaurs using high-resolution visualisation techniques.


Jake Callaghan

Position: Undergraduate Final-year Student, 2017

Jake’s Research: Jake dove into the world of Bayesian phylogenetics to investigate the higher-order interrelationships of living birds and their survival patterns across the K-Pg boundary.


Georgina Halford

Position: Undergraduate Final-year Student, 2017

Georgina’s Research: Georgina examined the evolution of the avian hindlimb by working with high-resolution three-dimensional scans of Mesozoic avialan legs.


Jono Gooch

Position: Undergraduate Final-year Student, 2017

Jono’s Research: Jono studied the anatomy of early amniotes to gain a clearer understanding of how vertebrates originally became specialised for life on dry land.


Joe Hardy

Position: Undergraduate Final-year Student, 2017

Joe’s Research: Joe’s work was focused on the anatomy of the wings of Mesozoic Avialae.

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