I’m a scientist and writer from the Scottish Highlands. My research focuses on the anatomy and evolution of extinct animals, and what this tells us about their life-history and ecology. I’m especially interested in the evolution of mammals, but I also work on other groups including the ancestors of mammals, salamanders, and reptiles including dinosaurs (for more, see Research). I do a lot of work on fossils from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. I write about science for various printed and online publications (including my first popular science book, see Writing), and I also write prose and poetry. I’m currently a Research Fellow at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and Affiliate Researcher at National Museums Scotland.
I was born and grew up in the Highlands*. I did my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at the University of the Highlands and Islands, before moving to the University of Bristol to undertake a masters degree in Palaeobiology. I did my PhD at National Museums Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, completing my doctorate in 2019. After that I began my post-doctoral research at the University of Oxford. I am a council member for the Palaeontographical Society, and I recently became a Trustee of the Scottish Geology Trust, taking an active role in helping conserve and promote Scotland’s unique geological heritage.
I’ve been writing prolifically since childhood, but it has been in the last five years that I’ve concentrated on science writing – previously, I mainly wrote fiction, publishing short stories and poetry. I now write for various publications online and in print, including The Guardian, on topics in evolution and palaeontology. See Writing to find out more. My first book, Beasts Before Us, a popular science title on the origin and evolution of mammals, is published by Bloomsbury Sigma.
*Panciroli (pan-chih-roll-ee) is obviously not a traditional Scottish clan! My Dad was originally from South Tyrol (Südtirol), hence the surname.