Doctoral Researcher Emma Dunne has won the 2018 Michael K. O’Rourke Best PhD Publication Award for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, as awarded by the University of Birmingham Graduate School. She was selected for her 2018 paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B that provides fundamental new insights into the impact of a major environmental change >300 million years ago – the collapse of the Carboniferous rainforests.

Emma’s work challenges ideas about the impact of this extinction proposed in a previous high-profile paper, demonstrating that vertebrate communities on land declined in diversity, but also became more widespread in their distribution. The paper is part of her ongoing PhD project on diversification patterns in early land vertebrates, supervised by Professor Richard Butler and Dr Roger Close.