Our research

The curatorial and research interests of the Museum staff are closely linked.

Research interests of several curators are centred on such subjects as systematics, ecology, evolution, and palaeontology. These subjects have received new impetus from the introduction of molecular techniques.

Research areas

  • Evolution of butterflies and other insects, focusing on how the mechanisms of development and physiology may contribute, alongside natural selection, to the patterns of diversity we see occurring in evolution. — Professor Paul Brakefield
  • Developmental genetics, particularly the generation of morphological diversity. Research focuses on the role of the “Hox” family of developmental regulatory genes in arthropods and diversity of patterning mechanisms in insects. — Professor Michael Akam
  • Reconstruction of the evolutionary history of animal groups from the evidence of anatomical characteristics and from the comparison of molecular sequence data. — Dr Adrian Friday
  • Morphology and interrelationships of living and extinct mammals focusing on the development and palaeontology of lipotyphlans, afrotherians and xenarthrans — Dr Rob Asher
  • Insect behaviour and ecology, in particular the social biology of aphids and the fauna of epiphytes in tropical rain forest. — Dr William Foster
  • Palaeontology of vertebrates, especially, in recent years, of fish groups and of early land-living vertebrates. — Professor Jennifer Clack
  • Studies of Ice Age faunas, both vertebrate (mostly mammals) and invertebrate (mostly snails). These studies place an emphasis on the fine-grain interpretation of the fossil record representing a period of climatic fluctuation. — Dr Richard Preece
  • Bird ecology and behaviour, especially of brood parasites and seabirds. Also, conservation work ranging from the strictly practical to more theoretical research. — Dr Michael Brooke
  • Taxonomy of Phoridae (scuttleflies). — Dr Henry Disney
  • Bristle patterns in insects: development and evolution. — Professor Pat Simpson
  • Arthropods of tropical forests.Dr Farnon Ellwood
  • Morphology and evolution of xenarthrans, afrotherians, and rodents Dr Lionel Hautier
  • Form and function of the vertebrate skeletonDr Stephanie Pierce

Research by affiliated researchers

  • Biology of termitesDr Jo Darlington
  • Biodiversity of the Mascarene Islands. Dr Justin Gerlach
  • Biology of Chironomidae. — Dr P Langton
  • Early Tetrapod Research. — Dr T Smithson
  • South American rodents. — Dr C Tribe
  • South East Asian ornithology. — Dr D Wells

The collections are also used by other research workers in the Department of Zoology and other departments within the University including  Plant Sciences,  Genetics,  Physiology,  Biological Anthropology,  Archaeology,  Earth Sciences, the  Fitzwilliam Museum, the  Scott Polar Research Institute, and the  Veterinary School.

In addition, the collections are visited by many academic researchers from institutions around the globe.

Last updated: 11 June 2012