Vertebrate Palaeontology
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2018-03- Hazard Centre

News from the UCL Hazard Centre

Geochemical surveillance is essential for reducing risk at actively degassing volcanoes. Variations in concentration and compositions of gases can be indicators of magma ascent or changes in hydrothermal system dynamics, so monitoring is important for the timely detection of unrest. The gases themselves can also present a major health hazard, with impacts ranging from aggravation of respiratory conditions and skin inflammation, to asphyxiation and death. A key challenge for monitoring is that degassing can occur over large areas and concentrations can change rapidly. In an ideal scenario, networks of instruments capable of providing real-time information would be installed across the degassing area, but conventional methods are usually cost-prohibitive.

Published: Mar 18, 2018 10:26:00 AM

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 Academic staff

Anjali Goswami

I am currently a Reader in Palaeobiology at University College London, appointed jointly in the Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment and the Department of Earth Sciences.  I am also affiliated with the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and served as the first director of the new MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution & Conservation.  Outside of UCL, I serve as co-chair of the Scientific Program Committee and a member of the Media Response Team and the Media Liaison Committee for the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology.  I am also a fellow, a council member, and a member of the Programmes Committee of the Linnean Society of London, and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


Paul Upchurch

Research focuses on: vertebrate systematics and evolution (especially dinosaurs, but also pterosaurs, mammals, crocodiles, salamanders, birds etc.); Mesozoic ecosystems and biogeography; phylogenetic and biogeographic methods; fossil record quality and ancient biodiversity change (e.g. mass extinction's); latitudinal biodiversity gradients in 'Deep Time'.

Postdoctoral researchers

Mark Bell

Postdoctoral researcher in the Earth Sciences department at UCL whose research interests involve the study of patterns within the rock and fossil records. His current project is the examination of Latitudinal Biodiversity Gradients (LBGs). Other areas of interest are trends on body-size in the fossil record in the extinct arthropod clade Trilobita, using maximum likelihood modelling.

PhD students

Thomas Halliday

Within evolutionary biology, I am particularly interested in the effects of macroevolutionary processes on phylogeny - my current doctoral research looks at the evolution of placental mammals during the Palaeocene, a period of time following the end-Cretaceous (K-Pg) mass extinction, and preceding one of the most dramatic global warming events of all time - the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Most extant orders of mammals are only known for certain from the Eocene onwards, while the majority of mammal genera in the Palaeocene belong to either 'wastebasket' taxa or are of controversial affinity, with several competing ideas over their relationships with other mammals. By conducting the largest morphological cladistic analysis of placental mammals to date, focussing on Palaeocene Laurasiatheria and their putative relatives, I intend to resolve the relationships of some of the more enigmatic mammal groups with respect to extant mammalian orders. Once a well-supported tree has been produced, it will be possible to use this to investigate the extent to which the K-Pg mass extinction, and indeed the PETM, affected the timing of placental mammal ordinal diversification.


Marianne Pearson

Marianne is a NERC and CASE funded PhD student interested in the phylogenetics and biogeography of Mesozoic salamanders. She has also worked on and is interested in macroevolutionary processes and their impact on organisms in the fossil record. She is based jointly in the Evans Lab (Cell and Developmental Biology), the Department of Earth Sciences with Dr Paul Upchurch and the Natural History Museum with Dr Mark Wilkinson


Marcela Randau

I am interested in the relationship between form and function in the mammalian skeleton, more specifically on the morphological adaptations of carnivores and the mechanical consequences of size-related changes. My research mainly focuses on felids and their vertebral column through the investigation of evolutionary and biomechanical modules.