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, Wellcome and UKRI.

Teaching summary

I am lecturer for the UCL Medical School, primarily for the second year Movement and Musculoskeletal Biology module for which I am also deputy module lead. I teach in additional anatomy courses within the Faculty of Life Sciences and Biomedical Sciences.


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.