Dr Laura Wilson

BSc, MRes, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology
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 developmental 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.

Biography

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, 2010).

In 2011, she worked as a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow at Kyoto University in Japan. Laura moved to Australia in 2012 to undertake training in computational biomechanics and 3D modelling techniques at UNSW, where she worked as a Swiss (SNF) Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-2015) and then as an ARC DECRA Fellow (2015-2019). In 2020, Laura was a Senior Lecturer at UNSW and was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship.

Laura was appointed to her current role, as Senior Lecturer in 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:

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.

Co-investigator/Collaborator:

2020 - ongoing, Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) grant (31003A-169395). The evolutionary development of domestication in vertebrate animals. 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. co-investigator, PI - Dr Stan Serafin (UNSW), CI - Dr Matt McCurry (Australian Museum)

2016 - ongoing, Calleva Foundation. Evaluating the effects of vitamin D deficiency rickets on human development. 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). General topics include research questions involving the ontogeny of sexual dimorphism, sex estimation in juveniles and bone function adaptation in past and present populations.

Get in touch with Laura (Laura.Wilson@anu.edu.au) at any stage to discuss a project. Several funded positions will be advertised soon.

 

 

Current student projects

Honours/Masters

2020-2021 Danielle Jeffrey, Ancestry estimation of crania in the UNSW osteological collection through craniometric analysis (co-supervision, UNSW Anatomy Dept)

2021-2022 Darius Dorranian, Biomechanical approaches to reconstructing Ancient Mayan activity patterns (co-supervision, UNSW Anatomy Dept)

PhD

2017-2021 Camilo López-Aguirre, Evolution and development of morphological diversity in the postcranial skeleton of bats. UNSW (completed)

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

PhD Committee

2017-2020 Georgia Soares, Branching Organic Structures and their developmental complexity. UNSW Center for Astrobiology (thesis submitted)

 

Past student projects

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

 

 

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Updated:  12 April 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers