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Professor of Paleontology, Durham University

My initial research on the stratigraphy and palaeontology of the Ordovician rocks of the Girvan district was largely monographic and was recognised by the Clough Memorial Award from the Edinburgh Geological Society. The description of Palaeozoic Brachiopoda using both conventional and statistical methodologies continues to be a focus of my research. The former led to an invitation to jointly revise with Sir Alwyn Williams various groups of Brachiopoda for the 'Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology'; the latter has led to the development of microcomputer software - 'PALSTAT' package, which has now been completely rewritten and relaunched as 'PAST' in collaboration with Dr Øyvind Hammer (University of Oslo). The integration of such data into models of global biostratigraphy together with those for the environmental and spatial distributions of the phyla are continuing objectives within my research programme. This programme has been recognised with the award of the Lyell Fund from the Geological Society. Currently my main research interests have been modified regionally to include studies on the Lower Palaeozoic rocks in NE and N Greenland, Chile, China (including Tibet), Denmark, Estonia, Norway and Russia and my research in Greenland has been recognized by the award of Crown Prince Frederik's Fund.

During the last ten years my focus has moved to target some of the larger scale processes in the history of life. Together with a range of colleagues, new models for biotic change and distributions through the Early Palaeozoic, particularly targeting the Cambrian Explosion, Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event and the end-Ordovician extinction, are being developed and their relationships to climatic and environmental changes are being assessed through a range of multidisciplinary techniques.


  • –present
    Professor of Earth Sciences, Durham University