The Specialists



Dr. Danielle Schreve

Reviewed: Pleistocene Mammals


Danielle Schreve is a vertebrate palaeontologist and specialist in Quaternary mammals.  She is the current Director of the Centre for Quaternary Science in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway University of London; having joined in 2000 as a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow, she becoming a Lecturer in 2004, Reader in 2007 and Professor of Quaternary Science in 2010.

Her research combines elements of biostratigraphy, palaeoecology, taphonomy and examination of the interaction of past mammalian communities with early humans, with a particular focus on European Middle Pleistocene interglacial faunas and on biological responses to abrupt climate change during the Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition.  The framework she has developed now forms a part of the established basis for our understanding of glacial-interglacial mammalian faunal turnover in NW Europe and is widely employed by stratigraphers, palaeontologists, geochronologists and archaeologists.

A major beneficiary of her research is the field of archaeology and she has acted as Principal Specialist for the three flagship Ancient Human Occupation of Britain projects (2000-2013), which aimed to document every aspect of the ebb and flow of early human populations in Britain and the adjacent continent.  As a former President of the Geologists’ Association in the UK (only the third woman to serve in over 150 years) and serving Vice-President of the British Quaternary Research Association, she maintains a strong commitment to public science communication alongside her research.  She is also an active fieldworker, currently leading investigations into a number of important new cave sites in Britain.




Dr. John Clarke

Reviewed: Fish


2015: DPhil (Palaeobiology) University of Oxford, UK.

2010: MSc (Palaeobiology) University of Bristol, UK.

2009: BSc (Biology) University of Bristol, UK.


June 2015 to present: Postdoctoral Researcher in Paleobiology, University of Pennsylvania, USA.

Having officially finished his PhD in 2015, John has since been working as a researcher in paleontology at the University of Pennsylvania (aka Penn), based in sunny Philadelphia. His current research with Lauren Sallan focuses on the evolution of fishes. Studying both living and fossil species to address why some groups of fishes have become so successful today, while others appear to have withered away to a just a handful of species that we consider to be “living fossils”; such as the coelacanth, bowfin and gar of North America.

This follows on from his PhD work with Matt Friedman in Oxford, UK in trying to deduce whether there really is something about teleost fishes (which represent over half of all vertebrate species alive today). By comparing their shape, size and evolution to those of ancient holostean (gar & bowfin) fishes in the Mesozoic.

Prior to that, John’s MSc research with Phil Donoghue in Bristol, reviewed all of the candidate oldest fossil members for many major groups of land plants. In order to improve the data fed into molecular clock analyses, analyses which seek to date – when floral groups first evolved; based upon the number of differences in their DNA.



Charlie pic

Dr. Charles Underwood

Reviewed: Sharks


1989: BSc Hons Geology, University of Exeter, UK.

1993: Ph.D., “The Taphonomy of Graptolites”, University of Bristol, UK.


Lecturer at University of Liverpool and now Senior lecturer at Birkbeck where I have been since 2000; teaching a variety of topics, focusing on palaeontology and fieldwork.


Charlie has published a number of papers on graptolites and their palaeoecology as well as the end Ordovician Extinction. Despite this, for the last 15 years he has largely concentrated on fossil sharks and rays. Much of this work has concentrated on the sharks and rays of the British Jurassic and Cretaceous, especially in Dorset, the Cotswolds and the Yorkshire coast. He has also done considerable amounts of work in the Fayum area of Egypt, and has published on the Eocene shark faunas and the stratigraphy of that region. Charlie also does a lot of work in Morocco, concentrating on sharks and rays of the Cretaceous and Paleogene, and has more recently been working on the development of teeth within sharks and rays, both modern and fossil.


Rob Chandler




Robert Chandler

Reviewed: Ammonites


1978: HNC Quantitative biology with Mathematics, physiology with Pharmacology (Polytechnic of the South Bank).

1982 –1986: BA (Hons.) Open University in geological and biological sciences.

1989: Course provider in Earth Science to meet the National Curriculum, Davidson Centre.

1991 ASE Earth Science Field Course Organizer.

19902011: Lecturer in palaeontology to the regional groups of the Geologists’ Association.

1996-2006: Demonstrator in Palaeontology at Birkbeck College.

20112014:Council Member (ordinary) to the Palaeontographical Society, London.

2012-present: Field Trip Secretary to Dorset Geologists’ Association

2013-present: President of Horsham Geology Field Club


Present Post: 2010 – present. Consultant to the Natural History Museum, London, (regarding the ammonites of the Parsons Collection); Specialist advisor to Natural England; Scientific advisor (part time) Shirley High School.

1990-2001: Demonstrator in Undergraduate Earth Sciences at Birkbeck College, London.

1982-1999: Adult Education Tutor in Geology and Lapidary, CETS, Smitham Centre.

1986 – 2000: Head of Chemistry, Riddlesdown High School, Purley.

1971 – 1985: Chief Technician (MLSO) United Dental and Medical School, St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, London.

2000- present: Consultant geologist to Natural England (Middle Jurassic, Inferior Oolite).

2000: Liaison Group Convenor to the International Symposium on Jurassic Stratigraphy.

2000-2010: Head of Science, Shirley High School, Shirley Church Road, Croydon, Surrey.


Born in London in August 1952 Robert started collecting fossils age 6 inspired by a BBC radio broadcast called ‘How Things Began’. Living close to South Kensington, he was a regular visitor to the Natural History Museum from an early age and soon became a serious amateur palaeontologist. At secondary school, a meeting with a geography teacher named John Hanson evolved in to the foundation of a school club ‘The Spencer Park Geology Club’ in Wandsworth, London. In 1972 while attending, a lecture he was introduced to John Callomon (1928-2010) a world authority on Jurassic ammonites. They became good friends and Callomon joined the group suggested the club be re-named the Wessex Cephalopod Club. It has now run for 48 years and has focuses on Middle Jurassic ammonites amassing a collection of thousands of specimens that has precise stratigraphical and geographical provenance. This is a collection of major importance for British stratigraphy and regarded as the most important of its type for British Inferior Oolite research. Roberts work is formally recognised by his successful nominations for:

1986: The Open University student Prize.

1992: Elected Fellow of the Geological Society

1994: Palaeontological Association Amateur Prize

2006: The Palaeontological Association Mary Anning Award.

2010: Fellow of the Institute of Chartered London Teachers.

2011: Marsh Palaeontology Award

2014: Worth Prize of the Geological Society of London

Robert has published widely on the subject in reputable Journals, alone and with world authorities on the subject and produced over 50 publications and books on Middle Jurassic stratigraphy. Robert’s involvement in palaeontology includes the supervision of Sites of Special Scientific Interest for Natural England, an advisor to Dorset County Council on the Inferior Oolite of the Jurassic Coast and a research assistant at the Natural History Museum. He has organised numerous field trips and lectures for the Geologists’ Association, local groups, supervisor of MSc stratigraphy students on behalf of Birkbeck College, London and has organised International Field Meetings, including this year a celebration to remember the work of Callomon in the year we celebrate the 200th year of Smith’s map of England and Wales. He is Liaison Convenor to the ISJS and collaborates with amateurs worldwide.









Dr. Karen Bacon

Reviewed: Palaeobotany


2012: PhD (plant ecology and palaeobotany); University College Dublin, Ireland.

2005: BSc (botany); 1st Class Honours; University College Dublin, Ireland.

2003: BSc (geology); General Degree (2.1); University College Dublin, Ireland.


September 2013 to present: Lecturer in Ecology & Global Change, School of Geography, University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

September 2012 to August 2013: Science Foundation Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University College Dublin, Ireland.

2011 to 2013: Guest lecturer, Botany and Plant Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.

September 2010 to August 2011:  Temporary (maternity-cover) Lecturer in Physical Geography, Geography Department, King’s College London, United Kingdom.

October 2007 to September 2010:  Research Demonstrator in the School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Ireland.

January 2006 to September 2007: Abstractor/Indexer with HW Wilson, Fenian Street, Dublin 2, Ireland.

I am a plant scientist and lecturer who specialises in palaeobotany and plant–atmosphere interactions in the School of Geography, University of Leeds. My research spans palaeobotany to present day plant ecology and incorporates elements of plant biology, geology and geochemistry. I am interested in how plants respond to changes in atmospheric composition and how these responses can be tracked in the fossil record.  I work on developing plant-based proxies for interpreting changes in atmospheric composition and on tracking plant responses to changing environmental conditions. I also investigate plant responses to mass extinction events, in particular the Triassic–Jurassic boundary (201 million years ago).  I am currently investigating the effects of atmospheric composition, temperature and light quality on leaf physiognomy, functioning and development.







Will Watts

Reviewed: Vertebrate palaeo


Will Watts is a geologist and museum professional who has spent most of his professional and personal life based in and around Yorkshire. He has worked at York Museums Trust, 2000-2002, Scarborough Museums (Scarborough Borough Council), 2002-08 and Scarborough Museums Trust, 2008-2013.  He has a particular interest in the Middle Jurassic dinosaur footprints of the Yorkshire coastline and on the relationships between historical geology collections in and around Yorkshire.

Will left Scarborough Museums Trust in 2013 and setup his own consultancy called Hidden Horizons Ltd. Specialising in science and interpretation/learning, client have included, Goole Museum, Scarborough Museums Trust, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation,  Ryedale Folk Museum, Scarborough Borough Council, York Museums Trust, Creswell Crags Heritage Trust, Natural England and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.







Dr. Sian Davies-Vollum

Reviewed: Sedimentary petrology


BA Geology (Oxford).

MSc Environmental Technology (Imperial College, London).

DPhil (Earth Science) Oxford.

Post-doc at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) in Washington DC.

Sian Davies-Vollum is a widely published sedimentologist with broad research and teaching interests. Her research focuses on understanding fluvial and coastal depositional environments combining a knowledge of sedimentology, paleontology and geomorphology. Much of this research has been field-based and she has conducted fieldwork in three continents in a variety of locales ranging from coalmines to badlands to palm-fringed beaches. Currently, she is studying coastal change and sea level rise in Ghana as part of an international, interdisciplinary team studying resilience to climate change in coastal communities. Recently, she has also worked in collaboration with the National Coal Mining Museum, leading field trips and interpreting the sedimentology exposed in the mine.

Sian currently teaches at University of Derby in the UK and has previously taught at a number of US colleges and universities in Environmental Science and Geology programs, and held tenure at University of Washington before returning to the UK in 2013. She has sailed across the world’s oceans with the Semester at Sea programme on four occasions, teaching US university students geology and geography on a ‘floating campus’. She has published papers on pedagogy and holds Senior Fellow status with the UK Higher Education Academy.









Dr. Monica Price

Reviewed: Minerals


Having studied Geology and History of Science, Monica took a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester before moving to Oxford. She now has over 30 years of experience managing the Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s internationally important collections of minerals, gemstones and meteorites, and is currently the Museum’s Head of Earth Collections with responsibility for palaeontology and petrology as well.

Monica is interested in all aspects of mineralogy and mineral curation, publishing on a number of topics, most recently the management of radioactive geological specimens. She is on the Editorial Board for the Russell Society Journal which particularly published papers on UK topographic mineralogy.

Her other area of expertise is in the identification of historic decorative stone, and her book Decorative Stone: the complete sourcebook was published by Thames & Hudson in 2007. She has produced a website for the historic Corsi collection with funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. This was launched in 2012 as a tool to aid identification of heritage polished stone.







Dr. Fiona Fearnhead                   

Reviewed: Crinoids


B.Sc. Geology (Hons.), University of London, United Kingdom, 2005 – ongoing.

Ph.D, University of London, United Kingdom.

Cert.Ed. Music, Trinity College, London., UK

Cert. Ed. (CNAA) Teaching, Cheltenham (University of Gloucestershire)., United Kingdom.


Identification & Advisory Service Palaeontologist, The Natural History Museum, London, UK, Angela Marmont Centre, Life Sciences, UK, 2012 – ongoing

Teaching/Demonstrating, University of London, Birkbeck College, Earth & Planetary Sciences, UK, 2009 – ongoing.

Curatorial Assistant, The Natural History Museum, London, Palaeontology, United Kingdom, 2011 – 2012.

Lecturer in Education, Barnet College of Further Education, Health, Education and Social Science, United Kingdom, 2001 – 2005.

Fiona specializes in British Devonian Crinoidea, British Silurian, and Crinoids with her major research focusing on the taxonomy and palaeobiology of British Palaeozoic crinoids. “Geology is one of the few sciences where amateurs of all ages can make a significant and valuable contribution. The true value of fossils lies in the clues they give us for understanding the history of past life. I am passionate about communicating the importance of recording information with every specimen collected – in particular, locality data and whether dug up or found loose on the ground. Clear and correct locality data enables important amateur finds to make a valuable contribution to science. I am committed to engaging with the public in this joint adventure and extending our knowledge of Earth history”.

For more information and publication listings, please visit Fiona’s profile via the link below.









Dr. Joseph Botting

Reviewed: Trilobites & Arthropods.


Having started a theoretical physics degree at The University of Cambridge, Joe transferred to Earth Science. On completion he did a PhD, at the University of Birmingham, studying the effects of volcanic ash on Ordovician fossil communities. On completion, he returned to Christ’s College Cambridge to do a four years Junior Research Fellowship. Post fellowship, he was employed at The Natural History Museum, London and then at Leeds Museums & Galleries, as assistant curator of natural sciences. This was followed by a two years research fellowship on Ordovician fauna at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, China.

Joe now works freelance and continues to work on Ordovician fauna, focusing on sponges and arthropods with a back catalogue of published papers and journals.


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