Dr Maria McNamara is a palaeobiologist in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University College Cork. Maria has a PhD from University College Dublin and did postdoctoral research at University College Dublin, before working as a Geopark Geologist in what is now the Burren-Cliffs of Moher Global Geopark. She then worked as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Yale University (USA) and did further postdoctoral research at the University of Bristol, before taking up her appointment as Senior Lecturer in Geology at UCC.
Maria’s research focuses on the preservation of soft tissues in the fossil record and how this provides unique insights into the biology of ancient animals. Her current major research projects relate to the preservation of structural and pigmentary colours in fossils, especially insects and feathers, and how this informs on the evolution of communication strategies in animals through time. Maria leads a growing research group of 11 researchers and various keen undergraduate research volunteers. Maria's research is highly interdisciplinary and lies at the interface of geology, palaeontology, evolutionary biology, chemistry and applied physics. As a result her collaborators are from diverse disciplines in institutions around the globe.
Public outreach of science is a major feature of Maria’s work at UCC and beyond. She has hosted exhibits and interactive public lectures at science festivals in Ireland, the UK and beyond, delivered interactive classes to primary and secondary school students, featured in numerous interviews on live radio and TV and on TV science documentaries.