Welcome to my home page. On weekdays (and some weekends) I am a researcher in the Department of Zoology at the Natural History Museum, London.
I grew up in Portsmouth, UK where some people know me as Frank, but I've had to live elsewhere and under my real name for the last 25 years.
I read Zoology at Oxford, did graduate studies on caecilian amphibians at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, a Masters in the History and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics at King's College, London, and a Ph.D. in phylogenetic inference in the Geology Department of the University of Bristol.
After a Postdoc in Molecular Systematics at the Natural History Museum (NHM) London, I served as a Lecturer in Taxonomy at the University of Glasgow and Lecturer in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol before becoming Associate Keeper (Deputy Head) of Zoology at the NHM. In 2004 I obtained an Individual Merit Promotion allowing me to concentrate upon research. This was renewed for a second term in 2009.
My research is divided between my primary interests in the theory and methods of phylogenetic and other evolutionary inference and the biology of caecilian amphibians (Gymnophiona).
Caecilians have been an obsession of mine for a long time. The photo above was taken in the Kaw Mountains, French Guiana. It was my first visit and I had just dug up my first rhinatrematid caecilian and felt pleased with myself as in doing so I suspect I may have been the first person to collect representatives of all the six "traditional" families of caecilians. Something to tell my grandchildren.... Fieldwork is important to my research as are the repositories of scientific collections of specimens. Working at the Natural History Museum, I like to think of myself as Her Majesty's caecilian collector, although the position is not unique - my colleague David Gower also serves this function.
I am an evolutionary biologist and I am particularly interested in how we can infer phylogeny (historical genealogical relationships). Recently, I have mostly been working on the development and evaluation of supertree methods, techniques for building big phylogenetic trees from sets of smaller trees. However, theory work currently takes a back seat to empirical work on caecilians because I hope I will be able to do effective research in theory and methods when I am older but I'm not convinced I'll be much good at fieldwork.
Sometimes I play GOYou can contact me by email
LINKS and DOWNLOADS
Publications - please contact me for reprints/data sets.
Systematics - links to software, manuals, teaching.
Her Majesty's Caecilian Collector - blog (hasn't really got going yet...)
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