Emily Saunders

Emily Saunders

School of Biosciences

Contact details

School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

PhD Title: The evolution of hominoid ecomorphology

Supervisors: Dr Susannah Thorpe, Professor Alice Roberts

My research focuses on the associations between locomotion, musculoskeletal anatomy and habitat in great apes. I am currently studying humans and lowland gorillas to help shed light on the evolution of bipedalism.


  • BSc in Biology (University of York)
  • MA in Science Education (University of York)
  • MRes in Biosystematics (Imperial College London)


Emily Saunders studied Biology at the University of York. She developed an interest for phylogenetics and constructed a supertree of the dragonflies for her research project (the data from which is now published). After staying at York to complete an MA in Science Education to improve her written scientific communication, Emily studied for an MRes in Biosystematics, run in collaboration between Imperial College London and The Natural History Museum. She then applied to study under Dr Thorpe and Prof. Roberts at the University of Birmingham in order to apply her interests and training to understanding human evolution.


Evolutionary anthropology, Primate behaviour, Functional morphology

Other activities

Emily Saunders is a member of the Primate Society of Great Britain and the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. She recently attended the annual meeting of the European Federation of Primatology, where she presented a poster on her study of physical activity and locomotion in captive lowland gorillas. Emily is a UK STEM ambassador and has run various public engagement activities, including a ‘Meet the Scientist’ day at ThinkTank Science Museum, Birmingham, family activities at Cheltenham Science Festival and lectures for school pupils. In her spare time Emily teaches hip hop classes for the Birmingham University Dance Society, and enjoys snowboarding and swimming.


Davis RB, Nicholson D, Saunders ELR & Mayhew PJ (2011). Fossil gaps inferred from phylogenies alter the apparent nature of diversification in dragonflies and their relatives. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11:252

Saunders ELR, Roberts AM & Thorpe SKS (2013). Locomotion & support use in captive western lowland gorillas. Poster Presentation, European Federation of Primatology Meeting 2013, Antwerp, Belgium.