Dr Hilary Ketchum

Role summary

Hilary is responsible for managing the museum’s collection of fossil vertebrates and plants. This includes:

  • Facilitating research and other visits to the collections
  • Developing the collections for research, display and outreach, including new acquisitions
  • Managing loans
  • Curation and documentation
  • Collections-based research
  • Developing new exhibitions and displays
  • Public engagement

Her expertise and research interests are on the anatomy, taxonomy and systematics of plesiosaurs.


Hilary has a BA in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford. She completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge on plesiosaurs, carrying out collections-based research in museums around the world. She has done palaeontological fieldwork in the UK, USA and South Africa.

After her PhD, Hilary gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. She has worked in national, independent and university museums including the Natural History Museum, London, the Cambridge Museum of Technology, the Sedgwick Museum and the Museum of Zoology in Cambridge. She moved back to Oxford in 2013. After a short period working for NERC as a Science Programme Officer, she joined Oxford University Museum of Natural History in 2014.

Hilary has appeared on the Channel 4 series 'Walking Through Time' and BBC Four's 'Beach Live' programme, talking about plesiosaurs.

She is on the Committee of the Geological Curators' Group.


  • Plesiosaurs and Pliosaurs

  • The evolutionary history of polycotylid plesiosaurians.

  • A new leptocleidid (Sauropterygia, Plesiosauria) from the Vectis Formation (Early Barremian-early Aptian; Early Cretaceous) of the Isle of Wight and the evolution of Leptocleididae, a controversial clade

  • A giant pliosaurid skull from the late Jurassic of England.

  • A new pliosaurid (Sauropterygia, Plesiosauria) from the Oxford Clay Formation (Middle Jurassic., Callovian) of England: Evidence for a gracile, longirostrine grade of Early-Middle Jurassic pliosaurids


Featured projects

Exhibition Curator, Out of the Deep: a new display of fossil sea reptiles from the time of the dinosaurs. 2016–18. Funded by DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund and WREN FCC Community Action Fund.

Team Member, Jurassic Packs: Palaeontologist Explorer Backpacks. 2017–18. Funded by L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Ambassador Fund: Changing the Face of STEM.