Meet the experts

Here at Ask A Biologist, we have some of the world's foremost experts in every field of biology. From palaeontology to neuroscience, from marine life to mammoths, they're all here. Meet the experts who answer the questions:

Photo of David Wynick
David Wynick

I am Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol, and Consultant Physician at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. Over the last 15 years I have been trying to better understand how the nervous system adapts to injury. My main interest is how and why chronic pain associated with diabetes occurs and I am currently trying to develop new and better analgesics.

Answers given: 2916 - view all answers
Photo of David Hone
David Hone

I am a biologist and palaeontologist currently holding a lectureship at Queen Mary, University of London. I study on a variety of extinct reptiles - dinosaurs, pterosaurs and birds, looking at their evolution and relationships.

I also used to work in a number of museums and zoos so I have a pretty good all-round background in biology. In addition to Ask A Biologist, I write about dinosaurs on my blog.

Answers given: 1107 - view all answers
Photo of Paolo Viscardi
Paolo Viscardi

I am Deputy Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman Museum in Southeast London. My interests are broad since the Horniman has a wide variety of natural history specimens (from Burgess Shale fossils to parasitic wasps), but generally I work with the bone and fossil material in our collections.

My recent research is also quite broad, ranging from identifying problems with methods used when measuring bones, to the anatomy (or perhaps I should say construction) and history of mermaid specimens.

I also run the blog Zygoma where I touch on issues in science and I have a mystery object on alternate Fridays, which is usually something biological from the Museum.

Answers given: 1031 - view all answers
Photo of Alastair Wilson
Alastair Wilson

I am an evolutionary biologist working at the University of Exeter. My main interest is in trying to understand how genes and environments interact to determine the way in which animals evolve. This means my work is about 50% ecology and 50% genetics. I study a wide range of animals -from insects to humans - but tend to focus mainly on fish, birds and mammals.

Answers given: 687 - view all answers
Photo of Mike Taylor
Mike Taylor

Professionally, I am a computer programmer; I work on dinosaurs in my spare time. I got my Ph.D from the University of Portsmouth in 2009, and am now an associate researcher at UCL. I work almost exclusively on the sauropods: the biggest, most beautiful and most exciting of all the dinosaurs. Being huge has its own problems, and they are fascinating ones (e.g. how can you carry all that weight, eat enough food to keep going, and deal with the metabolic demands?) Studying their fossils also has its problems: just getting huge bones on and off the shelves can be challenge enough, and very large animals tend to leave very incomplete remains -- in fact I and my colleague Darren Naish named the new sauropod Xenoposeidon in 2007 based on half of a single vertebra!

Answers given: 636 - view all answers
Photo of Dave Warburton
Dave Warburton

I'm a professional ecologist and the Biodiversity Officer with an outer London borough. As such, I provide advice to the council and the public about wildlife matters and legislation, as well as providing comments on planning developments.

Part of my duties include undertaking practical habitat management, which includes tree felling and hedgelaying, as well as other traditional management skills and crafts. During the summer months, I spend a lot of time out surveying our sites for flora and fauna and delivering guided walks, events and workshops for members of the public.

I've a BSc in Hominid Evolution and a MSc in Biodiversity and have worked over the years for local government, the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts and I'm interested in pretty much everything: from dragonflies to hemi-parasitic plants and from green roofs to small mammals. I also undertake voluntary surveys for the BTO (http://www.bto.org/) and the Bat Conservation Trust (http://www.bats.org.uk/), as well as more obscure invertebrate surveys...

Answers given: 600 - view all answers
Photo of John Steemson
John Steemson

I'm a researcher working working in a molecular biology lab at Auckland University, New Zealand. I study proteins and their chemistry in order to engineer them to do interesting things. I also have a keen interest in evolution and the philosophy of science.

Answers given: 413 - view all answers
Photo of Steve Lolait
Steve Lolait

I am a scientist at the University of Bristol. I obtained my Ph.D from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and went on to do post-doctoral work at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A. My main research interest is in the function of hormones and neurotransmitters, particularly vasopressin (or antidiuretic hormone) which is the hormonal regulator of water homeostasis and has many other effects in the brain (e.g., on social behaviour) and peripheral tissues, and the closely-related hormone oxytocin that is important for mammalian reproduction.

Answers given: 381 - view all answers
Photo of Peter Falkingham
Peter Falkingham

I'm a palaeontologist based jointly between the Royal Veterinary College, UK, and Brown University, USA. I have a PhD on computer simulation of dinosaur and other fossil vertebrate tracks. This has lead to a rather eclectic range of interests including ichnology, dinosaur palaeobiology, biomechanics, soil mechanics, and computational methods.

Answers given: 347 - view all answers
Photo of Manabu Sakamoto
Manabu Sakamoto

I am a postdoctoral research associate at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol. My current research is on the interrelationships and evolution of living and fossil cats. This project focuses on reconstructing the evolutionary history of the cats, including their interrelationships, biogeography, taxonomic diversification, morphological disparity, and functional adaptations. I am particularly interested in applying numerical analyses (multivariate statistics) to look at the patterns of evolution, for instance any trends through time or across phylogeny.

I also work on the biting mechanics and jaw muscle anatomy of avian and non-avian theropod dinosaurs.

Answers given: 306 - view all answers
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