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Dr Martin R. Smith

Associate Professor in Palaeontology and Director of Education

martin.smith at

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor in Palaeontology and Director of Education in the Department of Earth SciencesES313+44 (0) 191 33 42320


2015–present: Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University

2012–2015: Junior Research Fellow, Clare College, University of Cambridge

2012: PhD, University of Toronto

2008: MA & MSc, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge

Administrative roles

2022–2025: Director of Education, Department of Earth Sciences

Research interests

I am interested in the origins of the modern animal groups. My work includes the study of unusual organisms from Burgess Shale-type deposits and their microscopic counterparts, the Small Carbonaceous Fossils. I also have an interest in the preservation of these remarkable fossils, and the mathematical techniques used to reconstruct evolutionary history from palaeontological evidence.

Research software
Ternary: create ternary plots and Holdridge diagrams.

Packages for calculating and evaluating distances between phylogenetic trees: TreeDistTBRDistQuartet.

MapTrees: interactive user interface for the creation, visualization and evaluation of tree landscapes.

TreeTools: utilities for the creation, modification and analysis of phylogenetic trees.

TreeSearch: phylogenetic tree search in R, with an appropriate treatment of ‘inapplicable’ characters.

Rogue: Identify rogue taxa to improve consensus trees.

Research opportunities

I am currently inviting proposals for postgraduate research projects in palaeobiology and phylogenetic methods (Masters by Research or PhD). Please get in touch for more information.

Undergraduate research projects are also available for Durham and non-Durham students. Palaeontological Association bursaries may be of interest to potential applicants.

Online profiles

Research groups

  • Palaeoecosystems Research Group

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Earth Sciences: Palaeontology
  • Ecosystems: Palaeoecosystems
  • The Earth: Animals: Palaeobiology


Journal Article

Supervision students