Dr Emily Tarrega MA, MRes, PhD

Dr Emily Tarrega

School of Biosciences
Lecturer in Animal Biology

Contact details

School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Emily Tarrega is a lecturer in animal biology and anthropology, and is the coordinator for Foundation Year students on medical, life and geo sciences pathways. Her research focuses on the evolution of anatomy and locomotion in primates (including humans!), and great ape captive welfare and conservation.


  • BSc (Hons) in Biology, University of York
  • MA in Science Education, University of York
  • MRes in Biosystematics, Imperial College London
  • PhD in Ape Locomotion and Anatomy, University of Birmingham


After graduating in Biology from the University of York, Dr Tarrega studied for an MA in Science Education and then an MRes in Biosystematics. Her MRes was based at the Natural History Museum in London and sparked her interests in evolutionary biology and working with museum specimens. She went on to study for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, researching skeletal anatomy and locomotor behaviour in humans and other apes, to shed light on the evolution of bipedalism. During her early career as a postdoctoral researcher Dr Tarrega studied human locomotion, worked to enhance ape welfare in zoos, and spent six months at an orangutan sanctuary in Indonesia, using her expertise in ape behaviour to aid the welfare and release of rehabilitant orangutans. She then took up her Lecturer position at Birmingham.


Dr Tarrega teaches a range of animal and human biology to Foundation Year and Undergraduate students, and supervises dissertation projects within these areas.


Research Interests

Dr Tarrega’s research interests focus on evolution and behavioural ecology in humans and other animals. Her particular expertise is the locomotor behaviour of primates (including humans), and the relationship between an animal’s locomotion, anatomy and environment.

Other activities

Dr Tarrega is a member of the Primate Society of Great Britain, the Anatomical Society and the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarcheology, and is an advisor for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. She is also committed to public engagement in scientific research, and regularly delivers workshops for schools and public audiences.


  • Saunders ELR, Roberts AM & Thorpe SKS (2017). Positional Behavior. In International Encyclopedia of Primatology, ed. A Fuentes, Wiley Blackwell
  • Thorpe SKS, Saunders ELR & Roberts AM (2018). Positional Behavior. In The International Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology, ed. W. Trevathan, John Wiley & Sons (in press)
  • Davis R, Nicholson D, Saunders ELR & Mayhew P (2011). Fossil gaps inferred from phylogenies alter the apparent nature of diversification in dragonflies and their relatives. BMC Evolutionary Biology 11:252

View all publications in research portal