Dr Laura Wilson

BSc, MRes, PhD
ARC Future Fellow, Head of Biological Anthropology
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 2 6125 8226

Areas of expertise

  • Evolutionary Biology 0603
  • Biological Adaptation 060303

Research interests

My research interests are centred on how the process of development has shaped morphological evolution on different time scales in mammals. I work in the fields of evolutionary biology and biological anthropology, united through the application of statistical shape analysis and 3D modelling of hard and soft tissues to address questions that relate to adaptation, ecology and function.


Laura completed her BSc at University College London (UCL) and Masters of Research (MRes) in Biosystematics at Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum, before moving to Switzerland to complete her PhD in Natural Sciences at the University of Zurich (Dr.sc.nat).

Afterwards, she worked as a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow at Kyoto University in Japan before moving to Australia to undertake training in computational biomechanics and 3D modelling techniques at UNSW, where she worked as a Swiss (SNF) Postdoctoral Fellow, ARC DECRA Fellow and then Senior Lecturer.

Laura was appointed to her current role, as ARC Future Fellow and Head of Biological Anthropology, at ANU in 2021. She also recently joined the ARC Training Centre for Multiscale 3D Imaging, Modelling and Manufacturing as a Chief Investigator.

Besides her experience with collections-based research, Laura has taken part in fieldwork in Germany, Switzerland, Venezuela, Morocco, and Australia. She continues to be involved in fieldwork in northwestern Queensland (Riversleigh World Heritage Area).

Researcher's projects

Select recent/ongoing grant projects as Principal Investigator:

2021 - 2025, ARC Future Fellowship (FT200100822).

2022 - ongoing, ARC ITTC M3D cross-polination project. Assessment of asymmetry in lower limb morphology to improve the design of patient-specific fixation plates for fractures. (ANU, QUT, Canberra Hospital)

2020 - ongoing, Synthesys EU Program grant (GB-TAF 7069). Ontogeny of sexual dimorphism in the human occipital bone: a quantitative shape-based approach. CI - Dr Louise Humphrey (NHM London)

2019 - 2020, Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and Australian Academy of Sciences Bridge Fellowship (BR191802). Prenatal modularity of the mammalian cranium. CI- A/Prof. Dai Koyabu (City University Hong Kong)

2015-2019, ARC DECRA (DE150100862). The evolution of mammalian developmental patterns in deep time.


2023-2025. Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fund for the Promotion of Joint International Reserach (22KK0101). Evolutionary origin, function and genomics of an enigmatic inner ear bone. Role = co-investigator, PI - Assoc Prof. Daisuke Koyabu (University of Tsukuba)

2020 - ongoing, Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) grant (31003A-169395). The evolutionary development of domestication in vertebrate animals. Role = collaborator, PI - Prof. Marcelo Sanchez-Villagra (University of Zurich)

2019 - ongoing, PANGEA Research Grant. Biomechanical approaches to identifying warriors and distinguishing spear and box-and-arrow use amongst the Ancient Mayans of Mexico. Role = co-investigator, PI - Dr Stan Serafin (UNSW), CI - Dr Matt McCurry (Australian Museum)

2016 - 2020, Calleva Foundation. Evaluating the effects of vitamin D deficiency rickets on human development. Role = co-investigator, PI - Dr Louise Humphrey (NHM London), CI - Dr Rachel Ives (NHM London)


Available student projects

A wide variety of potential Honours, Masters and PhD projects are available for students who are interested to learn and/or apply quantitative approaches, particularly shape-based (geometric morphometric) or 3D modelling/biomechanics methods, to skeletal and dental material (humans and non-human mammals).




Current student projects


2022 Sinduja Saresh, Assessment of asymmetry in lower limb morphology to improve the design of patient-specific fixation plates for fractures. QUT (part time, ITTC grant)


2022 Jo Menard, Systematic review and morphological assessment of sexual dimorphism in the human patella. (Masters, ANU)


2022-2023 Caitlin Howard, Sex differences in patellofemoral joint shape (co-supervision, ANU School of Medicine)

2022-2023 Gerard Bourke, Quantification of lower limb shape asymmetry in relation to the management of complex lower limb fractures (co-supervision, ANU School of Medicine)

2022-2023 Charis Lee, Quantification of shape asymmetry in relation to the management of pelvic fractures (co-supervision, ANU School of Medicine)


2022-2025 Emma Holvast, Marsupial morphological evolution. ANU

2022-2025 Yannick Pommery, The evolution of craniofacial growth and development in bats. ANU

2022-2025 Carley Goodwin, Computational fluid dynamics modelling of bat nasal chambers: an novel form-function test. ANU

2021-2024 Ceda Byrne, Human upper limb evolution and stone tool development. UNSW Anatomy

2020-2024 Nicolas Brualla, Comparative anatomy and evolutionary morphology of the larynx. City University Hong Kong

 2021-2025 Bronwyn Wyatt, Conceptualising frailty as a bio-social phenomena through the exploration of childhood mortality. ANU

PhD Committee

2018-2022 Tahlia Stewart, Variation in human rib and femur microanatomy with age and other factors: A study of ancient and modern humans. ANU



Past student projects

2022 Darius Dorranian, Biomechanical approaches to reconstructing Ancient Mayan activity patterns (co-supervision, UNSW Anatomy Dept)

2021 Danielle Jeffrey (Honours), Ancestry estimation of crania in the UNSW osteological collection through craniometric analysis. University of New South Wales (co-supervision)

2021 Camilo López-Aguirre (PhD), Evolution and development of morphological diversity in the postcranial skeleton of bats. University of New South Wales (joint supervision) (Camilo is now a postdoc at the University of Toronto)

2020 German Montoya (PhD) Biology of the appendicular skeleton of African molerats. University of Cape Town (co-supervision)

2018 Michael Stein (PhD) Quantitative analysis of the mekosuchine appendicular skeleton. University of New South Wales (co-supervision)

2017 Manisha Hari (Honours) Feather-tail possums: investigation of a unique bony process in the ear region. University of New South Wales (co-supervision)

2016 Andrew Townsend (Masters) Shape and size differences in the os coxae in humans and Great Apes. Imperial College London and Natural History Museum London (joint supervision)

2016 Perle Guarino-Vignon (M1 Internship). 3D Cranial Modelling of Old World Leaf-nosed bats: a new virtual approach to their taxonomy and comparative morphology. Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon

2011 Madeleine Geiger (Masters) Taxonomy and ontogeny of fossil giant rodents from the Neotropics. Universität Zürich



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  08 December 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers