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Professor Emily Rayfield

Professor Emily Rayfield

Professor Emily Rayfield
B.A.(Oxon.), Ph.D.(Cantab.)

Professor of Palaeobiology

Area of research

How skeletal mechanics influences morphological evolution and the relationship between form and function in hard tissues

Office LSB 119
Life Sciences Building,
24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 39 41210

Summary

My research focuses on the function of living and extinct animals. In my lab we use biomechanical analysis, including the engineering technique finite element analysis (FEA), to deduce how skeletons function. From this we can infer and estimate the function of living and extinct animals and explore the evolution of form and function, for example, in response to major environmental change and across evolutionary transitions. Current research projects focus on non-avian dinosaurs and birds, the water-to-land transition and the origin of mammals amongst other topics. Research is not exclusively focused on vertebrates. I have been or am involved in projects exploring the function of hard tissues in sponges, coralline algae, foraminiferans, bivalves and scaphopods - particularly exploring the resilience of the skeleton in acidifying oceans.

To achieve this aim we use computed tomography (CT) scanning including our in-house Nikon XT H 225 ST scanner, digital reconstruction and computational biomechanical methods (FEA, MDA), geometric morphometric methods, alongside material property testing and experimental strain gauge analysis in order to validate our computational models. 

Teaching

I am the Programme Director of the BSc/MSci Palaeontology and Evolution and BSc Geology Biology undergraduate degrees. 

I am unit organiser for the Evolution of Earth and Life subunit of the Year 1 Geology 1 unit EASC 10001, Year 3 unit EASC 30048 Palaeobiology Analytical Project and the EASC M0024 Biomechanics and Functional Morphology available to all Earth Sciences undergraduates and to students on the MSc Palaeobiology course. I teach on the first year Arran field trip during/after the Easter vacation, attend the introductory field trip to Kilve and a one-day Year 1 trip to South Wales.

I teach undergradaute tutorial groups and supervise a number of MSci Palaeontology and Evolution and MSc Palaeobiology research projects each year, and teach occasional lectures on other taught courses. 

Keywords

  • skeletal mechanics
  • evolution
  • finite element analysis

Selected publications

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Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Courses

Professor Rayfield currently teaches 7 courses:

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