Emma Bernard, Curator of Fossil Fish at the Natural History Museum, has just taken part in the ‘Mission Jurassic’ excavations in Wyoming. These are a partnership between The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (project lead), with the Natural History Museum, the University of Manchester and Naturalis (Leiden).
A key part of the programme was to document the geology and all fossils, not just the dinosaurs, and Emma was there to keep an eye on this wider range of finds. Emma completed the MSc in Palaeobiology in Bristol in 2007, and did a variety of jobs before getting the Curator position.
As she reports on her NHM web page, “I participate and lead in a number of outreach events every year, such as the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. I regularly take part in collection enhancing fieldwork all around the world; America, Morocco, France and have lead field teams to various localities within the UK.” Here she is leaving the BBC (yet again) after a live interview on Radio 5 about the recent dig.
In a recent excavation in the Morrison Formation in Wyoming, former Bristol MSc students, Joe Bonsor has been a key participant. This is the ‘Mission Jurassic’ enterprise between the Natural History Museum and the Children’s Science Museum in Indianapolis. Joe completed the MSc in 2010, and is currently completing a PhD on ‘The taxonomy and phylogeny of the Wealden iguanodontian dinosaurs’ jointly between University of Bath and the Natural History Museum. With his PhD supervisor, Dr Susie Maidment, Joe has had the adventure of his life, excavating classic dinosaurs and speaking to the press. Joe loved every minute of it and all the recent press interest ‘makes him want to go back!’
Congratulations to MSc graduate Amy Ball, who has just published her first book, The Rocking Book of Rocks. The book written with Florence Bullough and illustrated by Anna Alanka is published by Wide-Eyed Editions and is aimed at children aged 8-11. You can find out more about the book here. Amy currently works as the Education Officer for the Geological Society of London.
Msc students regularly volunteer for projects at Bristol City Museum, which is next door to the School. This year the students are working to curate and catalogue the historic collections of E.T. Higgins – mostly Rhaetic material from the classic local site of Aust Cliff. The students are gaining invaluable curation skills from the Curator of Geology (and former MSc student) Debs Hutchinson.
Congratulations to Rob Brocklehurst for publishing the first paper from his MSc project. This looks at the differences between the cranial muscles of fish that feed by suction feeding and those that feed by biting. The paper is published in the Journal of Anatomy.
Many congratulations to Neil Adams for publishing his MSc thesis on competition between rodents and extinct multituberculate mammals. The paper is published in Royal Society Open Science and you can read it here.
Here’s former Bristol MSc in Palaeobiology student, Emma Schachner, now a Professor at LSU School of Medicine, New Orleans, presenting her TED talk yesterday, on the evolution of vertebrate lungs. This is what Bristol MSc graduates do.
Congratulations to Adam Smith, curator of natural sciences, Nottingham City Council, who completed the MSc in Palaeobiology in 2003, and a PhD on plesiosaurs, in Dublin, in 2007. Adam has just been awarded a share of a grant of £200,000 awarded to seven curators in various museums around the country. His proposal is to research and display the museum’s nationally significant herbarium collection.
The Headley Fellowships with Art Fund is designed to help curators take time away from their day-to-day responsibilities to carry out in-depth research into their museum’s collection. The funding is linked to the ongoing decline in public spending on museums and galleries in England, which has fallen 13% in real terms over the past decade.
During his time in Nottingham, Adam has staged several highly successful exhibitions, including a massive exhibition in 2017 and 2018 on Chinese dinosaurs.
Congratulations to all of the Palaeobiology MSc students who graduated today! Special congratulations go to Jodie Murphy who won the David Dineley Prize, which is awarded annually to the student with the best MSc thesis of the cohort. Jodie won for her outstanding thesis on ‘The distribution of homoplasy in morphological datasets’.
Here’s one of our great Bristol MSc in Palaeobiology graduates Emma Schachner, surveying her very successful career so far. As she says, The Bristol MSc ‘was like boot camp for paleontology. They throw you in the deep end and see if you can sink or swim. I loved it, and then came back to the US for my PhD.’ She is now a Professor at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, where she uses her palaeontological skills, combined with remarkable artistic skills, and a love of vertebrate anatomy to study questions about the evolution of physiology and the origin of the dinosaurs.
Congratulations to Antonio Ballell Mayoral who has won the Geologist’s Association’s Curry MSc Prize. This award is for the best MSc thesis in the country on an Earth Science topic and has a £1000 prize. Antonio won for his thesis on morphofunctional trends in Crocodylomorpha. Antonio is the third Bristol Palaeobiology student to win this prize after Nick Crumpton in 2010 and Karina Vanadzina in 2017.