Professor Roger Benson
Tutor for Admissions
Roger Benson is a palaeobiologist researching the evolution of major tetrapod groups, including the dinosaurs, marine reptiles, and ancestries of birds and mammals. His approach includes both field- and lab-based work targeted at major transitions in tetrapod evolution, such as the origin of birds, adaptation to life in water, and the long-term interactions between biological evolution and climatic variation.
Roger has been a Tutorial Fellow of St Edmund Hall since October 2012 and is currently Tutor for Admissions, overseeing undergraduate admissions at the college. He is a Professor of Palaeobiology in the Department of Earth Sciences.
He graduated in Natural Sciences from Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 2004, having started out studying physical sciences and migrated across, via geology, to a final year in zoology. From there, he completed a Master’s degree in Taxonomy and Biodiversity at Imperial College, London (2005), and a PhD in Earth Sciences, Cambridge. His thesis concerned dinosaur evolution and relationships, focusing on the British Jurassic fossil record. Many of the relevant fossils are held in Oxford. They were collected in the 1800s during the development of Geology and Biology. They remain important today as evidence of the evolutionary history of dinosaurs on the line leading to birds.
Roger’s research spans from field discovery and detailed anatomy of fossils, up to quantitative analysis of the large-scale patterns of evolution that have shaped Earth’s biodiversity. It incorporates 3D morphometric and comparative study of both living and fossil species, phylogenetic palaeobiology, quantitative studies of form-function relationships, and classic elements of palaeontology/systematics. He is a taxonomic expert of theropod dinosaurs and plesiosaurian marine reptiles but the work of his research group spans much of the diversity of land vertebrates.
Roger’s teaching involves palaeobiology, evolution and basic geology, primarily at 1st-, 3rd- and 4th-year level.
Watch a short talk by Roger Benson, in which he gives a quick introduction to the study of dinosaurs and evolution. This is one of a series of Teddy Talks recorded at St Edmund Hall’s Research Expo in 2015, aimed at a non-specialist audience.