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UCL Division of Biosciences

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Prof Susan Evans

Prof Susan Evans

Professor of Vertebrate Morphology and Palaeontology

Cell & Developmental Biology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1984

Research summary

My research focuses on the evolution of key morphological features in reptiles and amphibians, and the possible consequences of these innovations in terms of the temporal and geographical diversification of the groups in question, e.g. the role of skull kinesis in lizard evolution or of locomotor strategy in frogs. Our approach uses a combination of comparative anatomy, functional morphology, embryology, palaeontology, phylogenetic analysis and development to form an integrated perspective on morphological evolution through time. Most major advances in vertebrate palaeontology begin with new specimens showing novel combinations of characters. In addition to projects in the UK, I am involved in a network of international collaborations in Europe, Asia and North America, mostly focusing on localities ranging in age from 250 to 65 million years which have yielded some of the oldest representatives of key tetrapod lineages (e.g. frogs, lizards, salamanders) and/or ecomorphotypes (e.g. gliding, limb loss, herbivory, proto-saltation). However, extinct taxa must be fitted into a phylogenetic framework and their modern relatives studied for comparative data. With colleagues at the University of Hull, we are involved in a BBSRC funded project using a combination of traditional anatomical work and new computer modelling techniques to understand the relationship between reptilian and mammalian skull architecture and feeding behaviour. In recent years our research has been supported by the Royal Society, The Leverhulme Trust, the National Geographic Society, and the BBSRC.

Teaching summary

I currently teach undergraduate (BSc) courses in human and comparative anatomy and contribute to teaching in palaeontology and zoology (BSc, MSci). In addition, I supervise research projects at Masters and Ph.D level (palaeontology, morphology, systematics).

Education

Institute of Education
PGCE, Biology | 1980
University College London
PhD, Vertebrate Palaeontology | 1977
University of London
BSc Hons, Zoology | 1974

Biography

I completed  BSc in Zoology (Bedford College, University of London) followed by a PhD in Vertebrate Palaeontology (UCL) under the supervision of Kenneth Kermack, and a PGCE in Biology (Institute of Education, London). I spent three years teaching zoology and anatomy (and chasing lizards) in Bahrain, Arabian Gulf, before returning to the UK and a position at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School. Following the merger between MHMS and UCL, I rejoined UCL (Department of Anatomy, now Cell & Developmental Biology). 
Publications