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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Heading north to research giant marine reptiles

Published: 1 April 2014

Ocean and Earth Science PhD student Aubrey Roberts has been awarded €4,700 from the National Geographic Global Exploration Fund - Northern Europe to support her research into vertebrate palaeontology.

Aubrey is a first year PhD student working with Plesiosaurians, marine reptiles that ruled the world's oceans while the dinosaurs roamed on land.  The origin of these marine reptiles is still vague, and their earliest remains suddenly appear already fully marine, in rocks of Late Triassic age. 

The grant will finance a trip to Spitsbergen, also known as Svalbard, in summer 2014 with colleagues from the University of Oslo as part of research for her thesis. They will be investigating the Middle Triassic aged outcrops for remains of ancient marine reptiles, more specifically the ancestors of plesiosaurs.

Now officially a National Geographic ‘Young Explorer', while Aubrey was studying for her masters degree at the University of Oslo, she took part in two expeditions to Svalbard, led by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Dr Jorn Hurum

"I wanted to study at Southampton with  senior lecturer Dr Gareth Dyke because of the opportunity to be part of a new and growing research group in vertebrate palaeontology," she says. "It's a fantastic environment down at the National Oceanography Centre. We are a close-knit group of six PhD students, and I share my office with three of them.  The facilities here are amazing and there is always something going on, socially or academically."

Aubrey's research is co-funded by the NOCS graduate school, the Natural and Environmental research Council (NERC) and the University of Oslo. She has also received funding for travel from Synthesys as well as National Geographic.

Following her PhD Aubrey aspires to work in a museum as a lecturer, researcher or curator and says 'A combination of the three would be awesome.'

Follow Aubrey's blog 'Dwarf Dinosaurs vs Giant Pterosaurs' on the National Geographic website from her recent trip to Romania with her Vertebrate Palaeontology research group. A field trip that was sponsored the National Geographic Society.




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