Emma Sherratt

Dr Emma Sherratt

Postdoctoral Fellow

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Lecturer (previously Research Fellow on the DVCR early career research fellowship scheme).

I am an Evolutionary Biologist. My research aims to understand how the diversity of animals and plants we see around us today came about.

I am an expert in morphometrics - the statistical analysis of organismal form (shape and size), which I apply to the study of morphological trait evolution at macroevolutionary scales. I also use these methods to answer questions pertaining to systematics and phylogenetics, biogeography, environmental adaptation, developmental biology and palaeontology.

My day-to-day research is computer based and museum focussed. I use cutting-edge 3D technology, such as X-ray microCT and laser scanning, to get digital anatomical information from museum specimens. Then I take precise measurements on these morphological structures and use statistical analysis to test specific hypotheses about morphological trait variation.

From 2013-2017 I was co-author of the widely used R package 'geomorph' for statistical analysis of multivariate and multidimensional data. I continue to write code for my own research projects and teach workshops in morphometrics.

Reptiles and amphibians are my passion, but I have worked on a diverse array of animals including snakes, rabbits and mice, caecilian amphibians, Anolis lizards, bivalved scallops, and frogs (and their tadpoles). I have also supervised students studying morphological evolution of dung beetles, lizards, marsupials, primates, bird eggs and even plant leaves.

Contact me for research collaboration opportunities and morphometrics training.

I am happy to take students at all levels (undergraduate student summer scholarships, undergraduate honours, masters and PhD). I have projects available using morphometrics and phylogenetic comparative methods to answer questions in evolutionary biology, developmental biology, palaeontology and ecology. Email me for details.

I am an evolutionary biologist, focussed on developing and applying comparative methods and morphometric tools to studying phenotypic trait evolution.

I research macroevolutionary trends in the morphological evolution of vertebrates to understand the historical factors responsible for biodiversity. My empirical research has focused primarily with reptiles and amphibians, but also includes mammals, beetles and molluscs. I apply my expertise in 3D digital imaging (micro-CT, surface scanning and microscopy) to characterise morphological variation, and also use these data to contribute to systematics (taxonomy) and phylogenetics.

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2019 Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2017 - 2019 Research Fellow University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2016 - 2017 Postdoctoral Research Fellow Australian National University, Canberra
    2014 - 2016 Lecturer in Zoology University of New England
    2013 - 2014 Postdoctoral Research Assistant Iowa State University, Ames
    2011 - 2013 Postdoctoral Research Assistant Harvard University, Cambridge
    2006 - 2007 Research Technician University of Manchester, Manchester
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2017 Fellowship Early Career Research Fellowship The University of Adelaide Australia
    2012 Award Postdoctoral Award for Professional Development Harvard University United States US$1,000
    2007 Scholarship PhD Scholarship, National Environmental Research Council (NERC) industrial collaborative awards in science and engineering (CASE) University of Manchester United Kingdom
    2006 Award Zoology Prize of Excellence University of Manchester United Kingdom
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    French Can read, write, speak and understand spoken
    German Can read, write, speak and understand spoken
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2007 - 2011 University of Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom Ph.D. Animal Biology
    2002 - 2006 University of Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom B.Sc. Zoology with Industrial Experience
  • Research Interests

Research Grants

  • Research Fellowship, University of Adelaide, SA AUS (13120262)        2018
    • 12-months’ salary and research funds, $125,590
  • Research Fellowship, University of Adelaide, SA AUS (13117787)        2017
    • 12-months’ salary and research funds, $121,400 
  • Ph.D. studentship, Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) UK industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentship (NE/F009011/1 ES)        2007
    • 3.5-years stipend and research funds, £48,000
  • British Herpetological Society Student Grant, UK        2005
    • Research funds £1,000
  • Summer Studentship Grant, Natural History Museum London, UK        2005
    • Research funds £1,000

Travel Grants

  • Travel Award from Society for the Study of Evolution         2018
  •     Travel grant (US$500) to attend Evolution Joint Congress in Montpellier, France
  • Early Career Researcher International Conference Travel Scheme, University of Adelaide, SA AUS    2017
  •     Travel grant (AU$2,000) to attend Evolution, Portland OR USA 
  • Postdoctoral Award for Professional Development, Harvard University, MA USA         2012
  •     Travel grant (US$1,000) to attend World Congress of Herpetology, Vancouver Canada    
  • Zochonis Special Enterprise award, The University of Manchester, UK        2003
  •     Travel grant (£1,000) to join Operation Wallacea conservation group in Indonesia


  • Best talk, at Research School of Biology early- and mid-career researchers Future Conference, Australian National University, ACT AUS        2017
  • Zoology Prize of Excellence, for B.Sc. (Hons) first class, The University of Manchester UK         2006

Unit coordinator and instructor

  • University of Adelaide, SA AUS 
    • Undergraduate student courses (L1-L3). Principles & Practices of Research (Advanced)
    • (SCIENCE 1300, 2300, 3100)                                                                                                                2019
    • (12-week courses, including Tutorials, Research Placements, and Research Symposia; ~60 students each year)
  • University of New England, NSW AUS
    • Undergraduate student course (L1). Principles in Zoology (ZOOL 100)                                               2014-15
    • (12-week course; 1-week intensive school, plus 9 labs and 23 lectures; 52 Students -27 on campus, 25 off campus)

Primary instructor

  • Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Meeting, Dallas TX USA.
    • Graduate student and above workshop. Short course in Geometric Morphometrics (1 day, 35pp.)          2015
  • Australian National University, ACT AUS.
    • Graduate student and above course. Short course in Geometric Morphometrics (1 day, 12pp.)               2015
  • University of Adelaide, SA AUS.
    • Graduate student and above course. Short course in Geometric Morphometrics (1 day, 36pp.)               2015
  • University of Queensland, QLD AUS.
    • Graduate student and above course. Short course in Geometric Morphometrics (1 day, 13pp.)               2014
  • University of New England, NSW AUS.
    • Graduate student and above course. Short course in Geometric Morphometrics (2 days, 21pp.)             2014
  • The Natural History Museum, London, The University of Manchester, and Harvard University
    • Training in micro-Computed Tomography Scanning and Processing Software
    • (1 day each, 11 participants overall)                                                                                                          2009-13
  • The Natural History Museum, London.
    • Graduate student and above course. Micro-CT Processing and Software Workshop (1 day, 5pp.)            2010
    • Graduate student and above course. Endnote Tricks and Tips Workshops (1 day each, 8pp.)                  2009


  • University of Adelaide, SA AUS.
    • Undergraduate course. Lectures x 16, Science or Fiction (SCIENCE 1400)                                              2019
  • University of Iowa, IA USA.
    • Graduate & above course. Short course in Geometric Morphometrics, (with Prof. D.C. Adams)               2013
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.
    • Graduate & above course. Geometric Morphometrics & Phylogeny (with Prof. C.P. Klingenberg)            2010

Guest lectures/labs

  • University of Adelaide, SA AUS
    • Two Labs for Evolutionary Biology III (ENV BIOL 3590)                                                                      2018-19
  • University of Adelaide, SA AUS
    • Lecture on Trait Evolution, Research Methods in Evolutionary Biology (ENV BIOL 3535)                  2018-19
  • University of Idaho, ID USA
    • Skype discussion on My Research in Herpetology for Herpetology (BIOL 489)                                2015-17,19
  • Australian National University, ACT AUS
    • Lecture and lab for Australian Vertebrates course (BIOL 2111)                                                              2016
    • Lecture for 3D visualisations for Cyberculture course (ARTV 2018)                                                       2016
  • University of New England, NSW AUS
    • Lecture for Evolution and Biogeography (EVOL 211/411)                                                                      2015
  • Iowa State University, IA USA
    • Two lectures for Vertebrate Biology course (BIOL 365)                                                                          2013
  • Harvard University, MA USA
    • Lecture and lab on caecilians for Herpetology course (OEB 167)                                                          2012

Teaching assistant

  • The University of Manchester, UK. Undergraduate student courses
    • Anatomy Student Research Skills (lab-based, 1 semester)                                                            2010, 2011
    • Data handling skills (lab- and computer-based, 1 semester)                                                                  2011
    • Analysis of Organismal Form (in person & online, 1 semester)                                                     2009, 2010
    • Tropical Biology Field course, Ecuador (3 weeks)                                                                                  2009
    • Behaviour & Ecology Field course, France (2 weeks)                                                                            2007
    • Marine Biology Field course, Scotland (1 week)                                                                                     2007
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Sensory Systems in Reptiles The University of Adelaide Bachelor of Science with Honours in Evolution and Palaeobiology Honours Full Time Gerard Hurles
    2019 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Eoandromeda, the Ediacaran Fossil The University of Adelaide Bachelor of Science with Honours in Evolution and Palaeobiology Honours Full Time Tory Botha
    2019 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Morphological Evolution of Dung Beetles University of Adelaide Bachelor of Science with Honours in Evolution and Palaeobiology Honours Full Time Alex Harvey
    2018 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Geometric Morphometrics University of Adelaide Bachelor Science (Environmental Science and Engineering) Other Part Time Dylan Simunsen
    2018 - 2019 Co-Supervisor What Makes a Dingo? Investigating the Variation in the Dingoes’ Skeletal Morphology The University of Adelaide Bachelor of Science with Honours in Ecology and Environmental Science Honours Full Time Aurelie Kanishka
    2017 - 2018 External Supervisor Ontogenetic shifts in the diet and skull morphology of the dugite (Pseudonaja affinis) Murdoch University Bachelor of Science with Honours Honours Part Time Matthew Patterson
    2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Morphology, Biomechanics and Diet in Anthropoidea (Primates) University of New England Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Hiu Ying Luk
    2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor The cranial mechanics of herbivory in diprotodont marsupials: an integrated geometric morphometric and finite element approach University of New England Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time David Rex Mitchell
  • Mentoring

    Date Topic Location Name
    2017 - 2019 Geometric morphometrics University of Adelaide Jaimi A Gray
  • Position: Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Phone: 83131466
  • Email: emma.sherratt@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Benham Laboratories
  • Room: B 12B
  • Org Unit: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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