Professor Alice Roberts BSc MB BCh PhD Hon.FBAASc

Professor Alice Roberts

School of Biosciences
Professor of Public Engagement in Science

Contact details

School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Alice Roberts is an anatomist, author and broadcaster. Her research interests focus on evolutionary anatomy, osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology. She has considerable experience in science communication: she has presented several landmark series on the BBC and written seven popular science books.


PhD - University of Bristol; June 2008

MB BCh - University of Wales College of Medicine; June 1997

BSc (hons) Anatomy; class I - University of Wales College of Cardiff; June 1994


DSc (honoris causa) - Royal Holloway University of London, 2013

DSc (honoris causa) - Bournemouth University, 2013

DSc (honoris causa) - Open University, 2015

MD (honoris causa) - Sussex University, 2015


Alice Roberts originally studied medicine and anatomy at Cardiff University, and worked as a junior doctor in South Wales before becoming a lecturer in anatomy at Bristol University, where she worked for eleven years. She taught anatomy at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and undertook research in osteoarchaeology, completing a PhD in palaeopathology. She developed a strong interest in public engagement, becoming a television presenter, writing popular science books, and giving public talks. Alice has been Professor of Public Engagement with Science at the University of Birmingham since 2012, and chairs the university’s Public Engagement with Science Committee.


Alice has designed and organised undergraduate and postgraduate anatomy courses, teaching a range of subjects including topographical and evolutionary anatomy; embryology, human and vertebrate evolution, osteology and palaeopathology. She currently teaches on several courses at the University of Birmingham, including biological sciences, sport and exercise sciences and BMedSc Clinical Sciences.

Postgraduate supervision

Alice Roberts has co-supervised a postgraduate student studying locomotor behaviour and anatomy in human and non-human apes. She is currently a member of the supervisory team for a postgraduate student investigating ageing in chimpanzees. 


Biosystems and Environmental Change research theme

Research interests: evolutionary anatomy, osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology

Other activities

Visiting fellow at the University of Bristol
Director of Anatomy for the NHS Severn School of Surgery from 2009 to 2016
Member of the Advisory Board of the Cheltenham Festival of Science
Member of the committee for the Wellcome Trust Society Awards
Member of the Visitor’s Board of Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Member of the Longitude Prize Committee
Patron of the Association of Science and Discovery Centres
Patron of the Natural Sciences Collections Association
Patron of Twycross Zoo.

BBC programmes and series include:
BBC2’s long-running Coast series; Don’t Die Young; The Incredible Human Journey; Wild Swimming; Digging for Britain; Origins of Us; Woolly Mammoth; Ice Age Giants; Prehistoric Autopsy; The Celts; Food Detectives; Britain’s Pompeii; The Greatest Tomb on Earth; several Horizon programmes.
Alice Roberts is also a regular presenter on Radio 4’s environment series, Costing the Earth.

She has written seven popular science books. Her recent book on human embryology and evolution, The Incredible unlikeliness of Being, was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize in 2015.

Alice regularly delivers public talks expanding on themes covered in her research, television programmes and books. These have included a sold-out Royal Geographical Society lecture tour in theatres across the UK, talks at Glastonbury Festival and at Cheltenham Festival of Science.

Alice is an honorary fellow of the British Science Association and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. She has received honorary doctorates from Royal Holloway University of LondonBournemouth University, Sussex University and the Open University.


Thorpe S, Saunders E, Roberts A (2018). Positional behavior in The International Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology, Wenda Trevathan (ed).  John Wiley and Sons, Inc. (In press).

Garrod B, Roberts AM, Duhig C, Cox D, McGrew W (2015) Burial, excavation and preparation of primate skeletal materal for morphological study. Primates 56: 311-316

Roberts AM, Thorpe SKS (2014) Challenges to human uniqueness: bipedalism, birth & brains. Journal of Zoology 292: 281-289.

Davis CR, Bates AS, Ellis H, Roberts AM (2014) Human anatomy: let the students tell us how to teach. Anatomical Sciences Education 7: 262-272.

Bhat W, David CR, Akali A, Kay SP, Roberts AM (2013) Painful, palpable and pathological: anomalous flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) brevis in the palm, comparative anatomical context and an updated classification of FDS anomalies. Journal of Hand Surgery 39(1): 101-106.

Mays S, Robson-Brown K, Vincent S, Eyers J, King H, Roberts A (2012) An infant femur bearing cut-marks from Roman Hambleden, England. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 24: 111-115.

Robson-Brown K, Silver IA, Musgrave JH, Roberts AM (2010) The use of mCT technology to identify skull fracture in a case involving blunt force trauma. Forensic Science International 20(4): e8-e11.

Roberts AM (2008) Rotator Cuff Disease in humans and apes: a palaeopathological and evolutionary perspective on shoulder pathology. PhD thesis, University of Bristol.

Roberts AM, Peters TJ, Robson Brown KA (2007) New light on old shoulders: Palaeopathological patterns of arthropathy and enthesopathy in the shoulder complex. Journal of Anatomy 211, 4: 485-492.

Spackman R, Wrigley B, Roberts A, Hill S, Quinn M (2007) The inferior hypogastric plexus: a different view.J Obstet Gynecol 27(2):130-3.

Robson-Brown KA, Roberts AM (eds). 2007. Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference of the British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. BAR ISBNISBN9781407300351

Lockwood AM, Roberts AM (2006) The Anatomy Demonstrator of the Future. An Examination of the Role of the Medically-Qualified Anatomy Demonstrator in the Context of Tomorrow's Doctors and Modernising Medical Careers. Clinical Anatomy 20(4): 455-459.

Roberts AM, Robson-Brown K, Musgrave JH, Leslie I (2006) A case of bilateral scapholunate advanced collapse in a Romano-British skeleton from Ancaster. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. 16, 3: 208-220.

Nicholls B, Conn D, Roberts AM (2003) The Abbott Pocket Guide to Practical Peripheral Nerve Blockade. Abbot.

Quinn MJ & Roberts AM (1999). The Anatomy of Prolapse and Incontinence. In GVP. Chamberlain (ed) Contemporary Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dec 1999; 281-287.