Map of Life staff
The Map of Life Project team are all based at the University of Cambridge. The project is coordinated by Professor Simon Conway Morris, who also writes the content material, oversees updates of text and references, and is responsible for the development of the project as a whole. Best known for his studies of the Burgess Shale, he is keen to raise the profile of convergent evolution in the thinking of today's researchers.
Further writing and contribution comes from Dr Chloë Cyrus-Kent and Dr Verena Dietrich-Bischoff. Chloë is a developmental biologist interested in evolution from paleontological to genetic points of view. In addition to writing, she is responsible for editing and managing much of the site’s content. Verena is a behavioural ecologist who also adds new topics to the diverse examples of convergence included in the Map of Life.
The website itself was created by Francis Rowland, who has several years' experience in working on websites which deliver scientific information and data, and encourage interaction from both the public and the scientific community. Finally, and with a key role, Vivien Brown uses a custom-built content management system to keep the content of the website up-to-date.
Prof. Simon Conway Morris FRS
Simon Conway Morris is Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on the constraints on evolution, and the historical processes that lead to the emergence of complexity, especially with respect to the construction of the major animal bodyplans in the Cambrian explosion. He is a former student of Harry Blackmore Whittington, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1990, and is widely renowned for his work on Cambrian metazoans and insights into early animal evolution. He was awarded the Walcott Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1987, and the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London in 1998. His recent research contributions have concerned early deuterostome and lophotrochozoan evolution, based on remarkable Cambrian material from China, North America and Greenland. Simon is also interested in the antecedents of the Cambrian explosion, notably in spectacularly well-preserved material from the Ediacaran of Namibia.
Simon Conway Morris’s work on evolutionary palaeobiology is also of great interest to biologists and bioastronomers, as well as the wider scientific and public community. He is well known as an effective communicator of science, including delivery of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1996 and publication of The Crucible of Creation (Oxford University Press) in 1998, a popular account of the Burgess Shale and its significance for our understanding of animal evolution. In 2003 he published Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe (Cambridge University Press), which discusses the broad topic of evolutionary convergence and casts doubt on a number of fashionable presuppositions in evolution. His latest views on convergence were given in the University of Edinburgh’s 2007 Gifford Lectures, as a series entitled Darwin’s Compass: How Evolution Discovers the Song of Creation.
Dr Chloë Cyrus Kent
Chloë Cyrus-Kent is a post-doctoral research associate based at the Department of Earth Sciences. She has worked on the Map of Life since 2008, researching, writing, editing and managing material for the website. Chloë was trained in Biology and Earth Sciences as an undergraduate in Durham, and progressed to do a PhD in evolutionary developmental biology at the Department of Zoology in Cambridge, where she was an active member of the Department from 2001 to 2007. Chloë is particularly interested in the evolution of animal body plans, an area that encompasses a range of biological disciplines, from palaeontology to molecular biology.
Dr Verena Dietrich-Bischoff
Verena Dietrich-Bischoff is a post-doctoral research associate working part-time at the Department of Earth Sciences, researching and writing topics for the Map of Life. She studied Biology at the TU Braunschweig in Germany, where she also did her PhD on reproductive strategies in birds, in cooperation with the University of Bonn and the Institute of Avian Research “Vogelwarte Helgoland”. Prior to joining the Map of Life in 2009, Verena produced several research publications and taught undergraduates at the Department of Zoology and Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. Her main focus of interest lies in the evolution of behaviour, particularly in vertebrates.
Francis Rowland was responsible for the development, design, and management of the Map of Life website. Based at the Department of Earth Sciences from August 2006 until August 2009, Francis previously spent several years working on a range of species recording and biodiversity-related websites at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. His background is in environmental science, which he studied at the University of Wales, Bangor. He is now a web developer and UX designer at the European Bioinformatics Institute.
Vivien also works in the Department of Earth Sciences. Amongst other duties, she is responsible for the management of the references used in the Map of Life, as well as for entering and editing much of the textual content.
Holly Barden and Tom Barton Owen both carried out very valuable work on a volunteer basis, scouring the web for images that could be used on the Map of Life website. It wouldn't look the same without all the effort they put in!