Dr David Unwin

Dr David UnwinReader in Palaeobiology, Programme Director, Campus-based Museum Studies

+44 (0) 116 252 3947


Career History

My doctoral studies on Cretaceous pterosaur taxonomy and systematics were conducted under the supervision of the late Bev Halstead and I was awarded my PhD by Reading University in 1991. Following several long term research visits to the USSR between 1988 and 1991, where I was hosted by the Kafedra Palaeontologie in Moscow State University  in what was then the USSR, I took up a Royal Society Research Fellowship in the Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, in 1992. During my seven years in Bristol I developed a broad range of research projects on pterosaurs and other Mesozoic vertebrates, aided by a string of PhD students and several joint programs with colleagues in Russia, China and the US. I was also widely involved in teaching, particularly within palaeontology and helped to establish the highly successful MSc in Palaeobiology. In 1998 I was appointed Curator of Fossil Reptiles and Birds in the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin [http://www.naturkundemuseum-berlin.de/en/]. In addition to caring for the collections, which included the Berlin Archaeopteryx [http://www.naturkundemuseum-berlin.de/en/ausstellungen/saurierwelt/archaeopteryx/], arguably the most famous fossil in the world, I used my time in Berlin to further develop my research program on pterosaurs, a highlight of which was the publication in 2005, by Pi Press, of The Pterosaurs. I also helped to develop an application for and subsequently led the German section of the EU funded museums-based project SYNTHESYS, and was the principal scientific officer responsible for the redevelopment of the Dinosaur Hall, which re-opened in 2007. In 2006 I moved to the School of Museum Studies, Leicester, and in 2009 was appointed as Reader in Palaeobiology.


In my role as Programme Director for Museum Studies I represent the interests of all campus-based students pursuing a Masters degree (MA or MSc) in Museum Studies. I am also responsible for overseeing curriculum development, assessment, student progress, learning resources and quality assurance for this degree course. I also assess all MS applications and serve on the School’s Exhibitions committee and the Senate Student Discipline Committee.


I contribute to several areas of the campus-based Masters degrees including collections care and management and exhibitions. I am responsible for the Option on Natural History Curatorship, organise the Option module and supervise the Think Tanks. I second supervise 10 PhD students.

Research Interests


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