UCL Division of Biosciences

Dr Laura Porro

Dr Laura Porro


Cell & Developmental Biology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2018

Research summary

My research explores the link between animal form, function and large-scale evolutionary events, such as environmental changes, mass extinctions, and adaptive radiations. I use a combination of techniques, including medical imaging, 3D visualization, and biomechanical modelling methods such as finite element and musculoskeletal modelling. 

Additionally, I collect data from living animals, including high-speed and X-ray video, bite and footfall forces, and biological material properties. I work across a range of vertebrate taxa, and my work encompasses both living and fossil animals. In recent years, my work has been funded by NERC, the European Commission and Wellcome.

Teaching summary

I am lecturer for the UCL Medical School, primarily for the second year Movement and Musculoskeletal Biology module. I teach in additional anatomy courses within the Faculty of Life Sciences and Biomedical Sciences, such as ANAT0001 and ANAT0004.


Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow | 2019
University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2010
University of Illinois at Chicago
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 2004


I attended the University of Illinois at Chicago where I completed BSc degrees in Biological Sciences and Earth and Environmental Sciences, supervised by Roy Plotnick. In 2004, I received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship allowing me to pursue my PhD in Earth Sciences under the supervision of David Norman and Emily Rayfield. I used anatomy, biomechanical modelling, and tooth wear to understand feeding mechanism and diet in the earliest dinosaurs. From 2008 - 2012, I conducted research and taught human anatomy at the University of Chicago, working with Callum Ross to understand feeding in lizards and crocodilians using in vivo experiments and finite element modelling. I returned to the UK as Marie Curie Fellow, working at the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge with Jennifer Clack to model function in the tetrapod lower jaw across the water-land transition. I then worked for three years with Chris Richards at the Royal Veterinary College looking at the evolution of locomotion in frogs before briefly returning to Bristol as a Senior Research Associate. I joined UCL and the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology as a lecturer in anatomy in 2018.