The Council

The Council 2022-2023

Please use the contact us form to contact council members.


Dr Caroline J. Buttler

Caroline Buttler is Head of Palaeontology at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. Her research is focused on Palaeozoic bryozoans, especially the order Trepostomata, examining the systematics and taxonomy of these colonial animals, as well as their ecology and biogeography. Recent projects include investigating bryozoan and gastropod symbiosis, and the sclerobionts associated with the oldest known trepostome bryozoan. She is also interested in the conservation and care of geological material in museum collections.


Dr Elsa Panciroli

Elsa is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History, and Associate Researcher at National Museums Scotland. She uses X-ray tomography and digital visualisation to understand the anatomy and growth of the first mammals and their closest relatives. This work helps us understand the assembly of mammal traits, and how they have contributed to the group’s ongoing evolutionary success.

Vice President

Dr Nigel R. Ainsworth

Nigel is an industrial micropalaeontologist at Palaeodate Limited, with over 40 years experience as a biostratigrapher and a lithostratigrapher. He completed a BSc at the University of Aston in Birmingham, followed by an MSc at the University College Wales, Aberystwyth and a PhD at Trinity College, Dublin.  He has specialised in Mesozoic foraminifera, ostracods and radiolaria, mainly within Northwest Europe and the East Coast of Canada, although his earlier MSc thesis concentrated on Tertiary deep-sea ostracods from the Indian Ocean. He is currently involved in a number of academic publications, including co-authoring part of the Jurassic offshore stratigraphy for southern England and Ireland.

Vice President

Dr Yves Candela

Yves Candela is a specialist in Ordovician brachiopods. He studied in Brest (France) and Galway (Republic of Ireland) as ERASMUS student. In 2000 he graduated with a PhD from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Since 2005, he is working as curator in the Natural Sciences Department at the National Museum of Scotland. He is actively working on brachiopod faunas from Laurentia, Gondwana, Avalonia and Baltica. Other aspects of research include palaeobiogeography, palaeoecology and systematics. He is also actively involved in outreach organising events in the museum but also with local schools.


Dr Tim McCormick

Tim McCormick is a geoscience data specialist at the British Geological Survey. His work focuses on developing systematic and stratigraphic data, geoscience ontologies and vocabularies, and ‘FAIR’ (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data. He teaches databases and data management in the UK and abroad.

Tim gained a PhD from the University of Glasgow in 1995 studying trilobite evolution. He worked as a postdoctoral research assistant at the University of Birmingham, The Natural History Museum, London, and the University of Glasgow before joining BGS in 2000.


Dr Susan Beardmore

Dr Sue Beardmore is a specialist in skeletal preservation of vertebrate fossils. During PhD research at University College, Dublin, she developed a semi-quantitative method of assessing the articulation and completeness of Triassic reptiles from Monte San Giorgio, also applied to Jurassic ichthyosaurs from the Posidonia Shale and pterosaurs from Solnhofen-type deposits of Germany among other studies.


Her most recent employment was at National Museums Scotland, as the John Ellerman Project Curator investigating fossil and natural science collections in Scottish museums. Her previous roles include developing the Recognised Collection of fossils at Elgin Museum, Moray, and move projects at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Sue has been a palaeontology volunteer (field work) for the Natural History Museum of Utah since 2003.


Dr Lucy McCobb

Lucy is a Senior Curator of Palaeontology at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales.  Much of her research involves the taxonomy of Ordovician trilobites, and using trilobite fossils for biostratigraphy and palaeobiogeography, which has entailed working on faunas from Greenland, Canada, Kazakhstan and south Wales.  Other research publications have focused on other groups of arthropods (insects, lobsters), problematic fossils (machaeridia), and the taphonomy of exceptionally preserved fossils, which was the subject of Lucy’s PhD at the University of Bristol.   Another key interest is outreach, including work on temporary museum exhibitions, and helping to organize and facilitate public events.


Dr Benjamin C. Moon

Ben is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bristol who focuses on the evolution of marine reptiles through the Mesozoic. He combines taxonomy, phylogenetics, CT scanning and big data to explore changes in body plan and ecology with increasing interest in how different organisms take advantage of evolutionary opportunity.

Web Officer

Dr Tony Butcher

Tony is Course Leader for Palaeontology at the University of Portsmouth, teaching a wide variety of topics from micropalaeontology to field mapping.  He is a specialist in Palaeozoic palynology (organic-walled microfossils), in particular the chitinozoans, and uses these fossils for solving geological problems such as palaeoenvironmental analysis and biostratigraphy.

Ordinary Council Members

Miss Emma Bernard

Emma is the Curator of the Fossil Fish Section at the Natural History in London. She has 15 years’ experience working in UK regional and national museums. Her work focuses on the digitisation of museum collections as well as investigating and unlocking information of historic collections. She is currently involved in research projects on British Jurassic microvertebrate fauna and the Cenomanian/Turonian ocean anoxic event (OAE2) and the ramifications this had on lamniform shark species.

Dr Neil L. Clark

Curator of Palaeontology at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow. After a BSc in Geology at the University of Edinburgh, he completed a PhD at the University of Glasgow on Carboniferous Crustacea from the excavations near Glasgow in the 1980s. Since then he has worked on many groups of fossils and continues to work on Carboniferous Crustacea as well Middle Jurassic dinosaurs and their context in Scotland. Working in the museum environment, Neil is interested in all aspects of Scottish palaeontology and public engagement having started the Scottish Geology Festival in 1990, being a member of the PalAlba research group and also a past president of the Geological Society of Glasgow.

Dr Laura Cotton

Laura is the Curator of Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Her research focuses on understanding the responses of the shallow marine shelf to rapid climate perturbations of the Cenozoic. Though her principal specialism is in larger benthic foraminifera, she also works with a wide range of calcifying shelf organisms. Alongside this, she collaborates on developing novel geochemical proxies to obtain temperatures and ocean geochemistry records directly from the shallow marine realm.

Dr Michela Johnson

Michela is currently a postdoctoral researcher studying body size and ontogeny of Jurassic crocodylomorphs at the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde in Stuttgart.
Originally from Canada, she received her PhD from the University of Edinburgh in

Dr Imran Rahman

Imran Rahman is a Principal Researcher at the Natural History Museum. His research is broadly concerned with the origin and early evolution of animals, with a particular focus on Palaeozoic echinoderms. He uses X-ray tomography and computer simulations to obtain new insights into the form, function and phylogeny of extinct species, with implications for uncovering the assembly of major body plans.

Dr Jeff Thompson

Jeff is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the Natural History Museum. His
research aims to understand the evolution of animal body plans, from the molecular
and genomic mechanisms that underlie animal development, to the role of mass
extinctions and radiations in pruning and shaping animal diversity. Most of his work
focuses on the echinoderms, and uses phylogenetic and statistical analyses of fossil occurrences and morphology, paired with analyses of genetic, molecular, and
cellular mechanisms underlying animal development to understand the evolution of
morphology from a holistic perspective.