Dr Emily Mitchell

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

Fellow (D), Director of Studies

College Roles

  • Fellow (D)
  • Director of Studies in the Natural Sciences Tripos

University Roles

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology
  • Curator of non-insect Invertebrates, University Museum of Zoology
  • Co-Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe


Email: ek338@cam.ac.uk


Dr Mitchell’s research program utilizes mathematical approaches to address fundamental issues in the evolution and diversification of animal life through deep time. Her novel application of quantitative approaches to palaeontological questions is driven by the unusual multidisciplinary structure of their research career: a BSc in Physics, followed by an MSc in Theoretical Physics (Imperial College, London). Dr Mitchell then completed an MPhil in mathematics (University of York), with her research working on the quantization of “toy” models of General Relativity before changing research fields, completing her MRes in Ecology at the University of St. Andrews. It was during this MRes that Dr Mitchell became interested in the evolution of ecosystem structure, focussing her PhD (University of Cambridge) on the eco-evolutionary dynamics of the oldest fossil animal communities from ~600 million years ago.

Research Interests

Dr Mitchell’s research investigates the role of ecological processes on evolution through deep-time, from the first animal communities of the Ediacaran over half a billion years ago, to the present. Active areas of research include understanding how reproductive mode and resource competition impact early animal diversification, how evolutionary drivers have changed over the last half a billion years and understanding in modern benthic communities the relative importance of different species, abiotic and biotic processes in driving eco-evolutionary dynamics. Dr Mitchell is also interested in understanding how evolution and the history of life may be different on other planets – what the “null models” of evolution?