Carrie Walker

The Open University


Diversity and disparity at the dawn of fern evolution


Dr Luke Mander and Dr Angela Coe

PhD Summary

A morphometric study of fern spores to explore their overall taxonomic diversity and morphological disparity. There is particular focus on the Carboniferous – Jurassic interval and the influence environmental/climatic variables such as atmospheric CO2 have had on fern diversity and disparity throughout their evolutionary history.

What inspires you

My passion for fossils inspired my interest in the natural world. This has led to a fascination with the enormity of the variation of lifeforms that have existed and a desire to unravel the story of how life has evolved over time.

Previous activity

MSci Palaeobiology & Palaeoenvironments, University of Birmingham. MSc Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I decided to undertake doctoral research because my project allows me to incorporate the areas of research that I enjoy the most. Through this, I hope to be able to broaden my skillset, develop my understanding of evolutionary processes and elucidate the evolutionary narrative of ferns, particularly during a period in their evolution that has previously received little attention.

Why did you choose CENTA?

The aspect of a CENTA studentship that interested me the most was the opportunity to be able to partake in numerous training activities that cover a wide range of skills and techniques. A CENTA studentship also connects you with other students from different institutions who are researching a variety of disciplines, this promotes a greater understanding of science and can help develop collaborative relationships.

Future plans

I consider that my studies here will enable me to build professional relationships with other researchers and will give me the opportunity to focus on developing the skills that I consider to be essential for a future career in palaeobioloigical research.