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Below you will find the 2024 list of Council members of the Palaeontological Association. This page is currently being updated. Please check back in a few days for the finalised version.

*attends Council meetings but is not a Trustee
** co-opted on to Council at October 2022 meeting.
‡ member of diversity group



Rachel A. Wood - University of Edinburgh, UK; e-mail

Rachel is based in the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh. Her main research interests are in the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition, the history of reef-building, and carbonate sedimentology and petrography. She tries to integrate palaeobiological data with geochemical indicators of environmental change and sedimentology. A key joy in her professional life has been working with talented students and international colleagues.   

Rachel is delighted and honoured to be elected President of the Palaeontological Association for 2023-2024.




Susannah C.R. Maidment - Natural History Museum, London, UK; e-mail

Susannah is a principal researcher at the Natural History Museum, London. Her research focuses on the palaeobiology of the bird-hipped dinosaurs, dinosaur locomotion, and the geological context of dinosaur evolution. 

As one of the Vice-Presidents, Susannah sits on Council to provide independent input on all matters, based on her previous experience with of the Palaeontological Association Council, other related societies and editorial matters, as well as with the palaeontological community. She leads and/or participates in important sub-committees, particularly those tasked with making recommendations for grants and awards.


Uwe Balthasar ‡ - University of Plymouth, UK; e-mail

Uwe is a Lecturer in Palaeontology at the University of Plymouth with a background in early Palaeozoic brachiopods and fossil preservation. His current research interests are more about the formation of calcium carbonate and the evolution of biomineralisation through time.

As one of the Vice-Presidents, Uwe sits on Council to provide independent input on all matters, based on his previous experience of Council membership. He leads and/or participates in important sub-committees, particularly those tasked with making recommendations for grants and awards. 


Executive Officer*


Jo Hellawell ‡

  • e-mail
  • Telephone: +44(0)191 386 1482
  • Address: The Palaeontological Association, Alport House, 35 Old Elvet , Durham, DH1 3HN, UK. 

As Executive Officer of the Palaeontological Association, Jo is employed full-time to oversee and manage things day-to-day. Jo facilitates the smooth running of the Association by assisting the Council with delivery of its key aims and strategy. Her duties are varied and include aspects of finance, sales, meetings organization and logistics, public engagement and outreach, and website maintenance. If members need any assistance they can get in touch with her, preferably via e-mail.

Jo’s research background is in geochemistry and palaeontology. She has previously held various technical and administrative posts, and has been in this role since 2016.




Manabu Sakamoto ‡ - University of Lincoln, UK; e-mail

Manabu is Senior Lecturer of Zoology at the University of Lincoln. His research focuses on revealing hidden evolutionary patterns in the tree of life, particularly in dinosaurs, using phylogenetic and data science approaches.

As Treasurer, Manabu's role on Council is to oversee the financial management of the Association, providing an independent sounding board for financial matters and being the link between the Executive Officer and the Trustees on finance. Manabu is keen to support palaeontologists in vulnerable positions and increasing DEI.




Alan R.T. Spencer - Natural History Museum, London/Imperial College London, UK; e-mail

Alan is a Senior Teaching Fellow at Imperial College London and Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum, London. He is interested in the early development of seed plants and plant-fungi interactions. Specializing in non-destructive visualization techniques he can — when not teaching or wandering around mountainsides — be found sitting behind a computer screen with coffee in hand, staring at overly pixelated fossilized plant/fungi data while simultaneously contemplating the meaning of life. Alan has been involved with Council for more years then he cares to admit (or remember!). His most recent role, before becoming scretary, was as a Trustee and Internet Officer and then as (the unofficially titled) “Emeritus Internet Officer”.

The Secretary has a wide range of duties and responsibilities. In addition to preparing agendas and keeping the minutes of all the Association’s meetings, the Secretary also has a major role in keeping written records up to date, such as drafting the annual Trustees Report, recording results of elections at Annual Meetings, and drafting changes to the Constitution. The Secretary also acts as line manager for the Association Officers and has oversight on major new initiatives that Council members propose. The Secretary works closely with the President, Vice Presidents and Executive Officer on the workings and policies of the Association.


Editor in Chief


Paul D. Taylor ‡ - Natural History Museum, London, UK; e-mail

Paul is a Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum, London, following retirement from his post as an Individual Merit Researcher at the end of 2018. Paul’s research focuses on the palaeobiology and systematics of bryozoans and the palaeoecology of hard substrates. He also has an interest in fossil folklore.

Paul is Editor-in-Chief for the Association’s journals Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology.


Publications Officer*


Sally J. Thomas; e-mail

Sally is the Publications Officer of the Palaeontological Association, a full-time role that involves managing the journals Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology. She works with authors, editors and the production team at Wiley to see papers through from submission to publication.

Sally's background is in geology and palaeontology, and she worked on Devonian tetrapods before moving to Cambridge University Press. She took on her present role in 2013.


Editor Trustees


Evelyn Kustatscher - Museum of Nature South Tyrol, Bolzano Italy; e-mail

Evelyn is a Researcher in fossil plants and spores/pollen and Curator of paleontology at the Museum of Nature South Tyrol, Bolzano (Italy). Evelyn's research focuses on late Palaeozoic and Mesozoic plant fossils and spores/pollen to reconstruct the plants, their relative abundance in the flora, and landscape and climate change through time. 

Evelyn sits on Council as a member of the Editorial Board of the Association's journals Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology. 


Christian Klug - University of Zurich, Switzerland; e-mail

Christian is curator of the Palaeontological collection and the Palaeontological exhibit at the Natural History Museum of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. There, he is also associate professor. He teaches mostly invertebrate palaeontology, macro(palaeo)ecology and scientific illustration. His research focuses on the evolution of nekton, especially cephalopods (Cambrian to today) and early vertebrates (mostly Devonian and Mesozoic).

Christian sits on Council as a member of the Editorial Board of the Association's journals Palaeontology and Papers in Palaeontology.


Newsletter Editor


Harriet B. Drage - University of Lausanne, Switzerland; e-mail

Harrie (she/her) is a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Her research focuses on the evolution of exoskeleton moulting behaviour in the fossil record of Euarthropoda, and methods of reconstructing extinct animal ecologies in deep time. Prior to her postdoc, she worked in science education publishing for Oxford University Press in the UK. Working towards equity in science is one of her key interests, including how we ensure the language we use is inclusive and diverse.  Outside of work, Harrie enjoys climbing, hiking in the Alps, lifting weights, and video games. 

Harrie has been the Association's Newsletter Editor since the beginning of 2024. She works with other Council members and Association members on identifying and soliciting contributions concerning topics which are important for the palaeontological community, including career perspectives, new methods, EDI, outreach and many others. If you are interested in contributing to the Newsletter or have a topic that you would like to see covered, please e-mail Harrie.


Reviews Editor


Richard P. Dearden - Naturalis Biodiversity Center, The Netherlands - email: 

Richard is a postdoc at Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, the Netherlands. He is interested in using 3D imaging methods (e.g. computed tomography) to understand the evolution of vertebrates especially cartilaginous fishes, the group that now includes sharks, rays, and chimaeras. Otherwise he enjoys reading, gaming, and painting miniatures.

In his role as Reviews Editor, Richard's job is to organise reviews of palaeontological media for the Newsletter, written by PalAss members. Many of these are book reviews, but we also very much welcome reviews of other types of media, such as video games, films, and even software packages. We publish a list of media available for reviewing in every Newsletter but if there's something else you have in mind wed love to hear from you! Please get in touch at the above email address if you are interested in contributing a review, or if you would like a specific thing reviewing.


Publicity Officer


Nicola Vuolo ‡ - ICONS, Italy; e-mail

Nick's main research interest is in conodont morphology and evolution. For his PhD at the University of Milan, Italy, he studied Carboniferous and Permian conodont biostratigraphy. He worked on 3D reconstructions of conodont feeding apparatus as a visiting researcher at the University of Bristol, UK and he explored conodont disparity at the P/T boundary during his post-doc at the University of Lyon, France. In 2021 he did a master's in science communication at SISSA University in Trieste, Italy. He is currently working as a project manager for Research and Development European project communication at ICONS foundation, Italy, while collaborating with Italian scientific schoolbook publishers.

As Publicity Officer, Nick drives the Association's social media, raising awareness of the Association's events and initiatives, promoting the Association and palaeontology among experts and the general public. He works closely with the other members of the Council's Public Engagement Group to develop and deliver our programme of public engagement work.


Internet Officer


Russell "Garfield" Garwood ‡ - The University of Manchester, UK; e-mail

Russell is a palaeontologist based at The University of Manchester. He uses X-ray and computational approaches to study fossils, evolution, and the origins of a range of different groups of organisms (though his first and true love is the arachnids). 

As Internet Officer, Russell’s role is to run the Association’s web infrastructure: its website and server, web shop, e-mail systems, content management system, and conference web systems, for example. 


Deputy Internet Officer


Shane Wheatley ‡ - University of Lincoln, UK; e-mail

Shane's research is primarily based around the evolution of shape across various vertebrate groups, although anomodonts take precedence! Shane's MRes has been based around the shape evolution of the hindlimbs in theropods, at the University of Lincoln. In his spare time, Shane enjoys gaming, technology and tinkering. 

As Deputy Internet Officer, Shane’s role is to run assist the Internet Officer run the Association's web infrastructure, and undergo training in the different systems used (AWS hosting, and the Drupal CMS, for example). 


Outreach Officer


Elizabeth M. Dowding - Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg; e-mail

Elizabeth is a biogeographer, interested in the Devonian (419-358 Ma) and trilobites. Elizabeth's current interests centre around bioregionalisation and the impacts of positionality on data collection and interpretation. Originally from Australia, Elizabeth enjoys the great outdoors, beach days, and sunscreen.

As Public Engagement Officer, Elizabeth is excited by the opportunity to foster peoples interest in palaeoscience and our shared fossil heritage. Elizabeth currently gives talks to schools and fossil lubs about Earth Science. If you are interested in Earth Science or would like some support, please contact them.



Education Officer


Joseph N Keating - Unviersity of Bristol, UK e-mail

Joe is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol. He studies the evolution of morphological traits using a combination of fossil information and computer-based evolutionary models. Joe is particularly interested in early vertebrate evolution and the emergence of jawed vertebrates from jawless ancestors.

Joe serves as the Education Officer for the Palaeontological Association. As such, he is responsible for translating palaeontological research into accessible formats for both primary and secondary school students, as well as educators.


Meetings Coordinator


Robert Sansom - The University of Manchester, UK; e-mail

Rob is a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester. His research spans across taphonomy and phylogeny to reconstruct evolution in deep time. As such, his research utilizes a variety of approaches including specimen based studies, laboratory experiments, as well as quantitative and theoretical analyses. This spans across a variety of animal groups, but early vertebrates and fossilization biases are areas of focus. 

In his role as Meetings Coordinator, Rob is responsible  for the Association's presence at major international meetings in the wider Earth sciences domain. He also coordinates the Association's Postgraduate Travel Fund and the Exceptional Lecturer Scheme.


Diversity Officer


Nidia Alvarez Armada ‡ - University of Manchester, UK; e-mail

Nidia is a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Manchester. Her research is broad, spanning across fossil preservation and relationships with the environment of deposition; ecosystem interactions; and deep trends in evolution. During her Marie Curie Fellowship she will focus on investigating the effects that pigments, such as melanins and carotenoids, have on the mechanical properties of insect cuticles and the way they affect their potential for preservation. Her research combines novel and cutting-edge techniques, such as microscale material testing and computational fluid dynamics, with more conventional experimental methodology, such as decay experiments, to discern a more accurate image of ancient insect communities.

In her role as a Diversity Officer, she commits to work towards a more diverse and inclusive palaeontological community. She will particularly focus on academic equity addressing current issues such as disabilities, geographic, socioeconomic and gender inequities.


Early Research Career Officer


Orla Bath Enright - State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart, Germany; e-mail

Orla is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart. In broad terms, her research interests are understanding the factors (primarily biological and sedimentological) that bias soft-tissue preservation. She uses experiments, fossil data and fieldwork to investigate these processes. Orla grew up in Ireland before moving to the UK for her PhD. She completed her first postdoc in Switzerland and has now moved to Germany.

As Early Research Career Officer, Orla's role is to raise awareness of the challenges facing the ECR community and create new support activities. She will work closely with the other members of the Council, such as the Diversity Group, to continue to ensure an inclusive space for all Association members.


Ordinary Members


Laura Porro - University College London, UK; email:

Laura is an associate professor at University College London. Her research area is evolutionary anatomy and biomechanics, and she uses a combination of high-resolution imaging, computer modelling and experiments to understand the evolution of form and function across a wide range of fossil and living vertebrates, with her favourite groups being crocodilians, early dinosaurs and early tetrapods.

Laura sits on the Council as an Ordinary Member with particular interests in assisting early career researchers as well as contributing to public outreach and education.


Daniela Schmidt - University of Bristol, UK; email:

I am a Professor in the School of Earth Science at the University of Bristol. My research focuses on understanding the causes and effects of climate change on marine systems today and in the geological record. Marine organisms are ideal high resolution archives for climate change but also provide a wide range of ecosystem services. I have transferred tools from a wide range of fields and am combing large morphometric datasets, CT scanning, and high resolution geochemical and material properties. I serve on NERC Science committee and am an Expert College member for the office for environmental protection. As the coordinating lead author for the IPCC WGII, I had the privilege to bring palaeontology into the reports in the 5th and 6th IPCC assessment. Coordinating the negotiations with the governments, ensuring our messages were heard loud and clear, is something I am very proud of.

As an ordinary member on council I hope to get involved into several pressing issues, such as the diversity of our field, career paths and professions in which students can apply their skills, and working across the policy arena to increase the impact of our work.




Philip C. J. Donoghue - University of Bristol, UK; email:

Phil is based in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. His main research interests are in major evolutionary transitions, their causes and consequences, trying to draw together evidence from the fossil and genomic records of evolutionary history.

Phil is President-elect 2023-2024


  • Kirsten Flett** - University of Bristol , UK (Progressive Palaeontology 2023 representatives; email:
  • Emma Dunne** - Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) Erlangen, Germany (Annual Meeting 2024 representative; email:


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