Dr Emily Mitchell

BSc, MSc (Imperial), MPhil (York), MRes (St Andrews), PhD

Postdoctoral Affiliate

College Roles

  • Postdoctoral Affiliate

University Roles

  • Senior Research Fellow/NERC Independent Research Fellow


Email: ek338@cam.ac.uk


Dr Emily Mitchell studied Physics and theoretical physics at Imperial College before moving to York for her MPhil in mathematics. She then changed the focus of her research to ecology, gaining her masters from St Andrew’s University.  These mathematical and ecological skills were then applied to understanding the palaeobiology of the first animals during her PhD supervised by Prof. Nick Butterfield in the Department of Earth Science at the University of Cambridge. Dr Mitchell was awarded a Newnham Gibbs travelling fellowship while a Research fellow at Murray Edwards College. She is currently a NERC Independent Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology.

Research Interests

Dr Emily Mitchell investigates the role of ecological processes on evolution through deep-time, from the first animal communities of the Ediacaran, to the present. The first animal communities are found in the Ediacaran time period, 580 million years ago, which consisted of sessile benthic organisms that lived in the deep-sea.  Therefore, to understand how macro-ecology has impacted evolution through deep-time, Dr Mitchell studies a wide range of different benthic communities from the fossil record and in the modern Antarctic and deep-sea.  To collect fossil data in the field, she uses novel field-based laser-scanning techniques from aerospace to digitally capture entire rock surfaces.  Dr Mitchell’s work on modern systems uses data collected using AOV and ROVs to create 3D digital models.  Through the application of statistical and mathematical ecology to the fossil and modern benthic communities, she reconstructs how species interact with each other and their environment, and what the driving factors behind these interactions are.  These results then feed into theoretical models to explore how these relationships influence macro-evolutionary patterns over the last 580 million years.