Professor Paul Smith

College profile page: Official Fellow, Kellogg College
Twitter: @Museumsmithery

Research summary

Paul Smith’s geological research is focussed on the interactions of Earth systems and organisms from the late Neoproterozoic to the Ordovician, using a combination of palaeobiology, sedimentology and geochemistry. Specific research questions he has addressed recently include the transition from warm-water carbonates to glacial conditions at the start of the Sturtian Snowball Earth event; complex feedback loops as drivers of the Cambrian Explosion; the sequence stratigraphy of Cambro-Ordovician carbonate systems on the Laurentian margin; and the use of oxygen isotopes in conodonts to reconstruct water masses in Ordovician oceans.

Paul also has interests in the application of digital technologies to science museums, particularly in the areas of 3D visualisation, virtual reality and the evaluation of user experience. Much of this work is carried out in collaboration with the Product Evaluation Technologies (PET) research group at Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick.



Paul Smith is Director of Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Professor of Natural History. He is also a Fellow of Kellogg College. Prior to coming to Oxford he was Head of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, as well as Director of the Lapworth Museum of Geology. He has spent most of his career working in university museums in Cambridge, Copenhagen, Birmingham and Oxford.

Paul undertook his BSc in geology at the University of Leicester before moving to the University of Nottingham for his PhD on the micropaleontology of conodonts from the Ordovician of Greenland. His PhD was followed by postdoctoral posts working on conodont palaeobiology in Nottingham and on the sedimentary basin analysis of Arctic regions in Cambridge. He has over thirty years' experience of Arctic field expeditions and was awarded the Polar Medal in 2017.

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