MSc Uppsala University, Sweden, 1998
Ph.D. Uppsala University, Sweden, 2004
In addition to my research activities, I am involved in both planning and collection management at the Department of Palaeobiology and with public outreach at the museum. I had a major role in planning the recent relocation and reorganization of the Palaeozoological Collections and in the development of the “Fossils and Evolution” permanent exhibit. In the collections, I am responsible for the Palaeozoic fossils of Sweden, where my current focus is the Ordovician brachiopod collection. I am the Editor in Chief of the Swedish Earth Science Journal, GFF, and lecturer in Earth History and Invertebrate Palaeontology at Stockholm University.
As a palaeontologist, my research revolves around the so called ”Cambrian Explosion”, which led to the evolution and rapid diversification of animal life in the seas around the beginning of the Cambrian Period. Animals with complex body plans and behavior evolved for the first time with new capabilities, such as eyesight, swimming and burrowing, and all the major extant animal lineages arose. It can be difficult to interpret fossils of Cambrian animals, as they often represent early lineages that had not yet evolved all the characteristics that we are familiar with from modern fauna.
My research focuses on the earliest fossil animals with hard shells. Today we find their remains as tubes, spines and plates. These fossils are often collectively referred to as Small Shelly Fossils or SSF, as they are small (up to 1 cm) and often difficult to interpret. Most likely they belong to the stem groups of different modern animal lineages. But how did these early animals evolve the first shells? Where did they live? How did they function? And what exactly are their relationships to modern animals? It is these kinds of questions my research aims to resolve.
Much of my effort has been devoted to understanding the biological function and fine structure of some of the most important SSF groups, to elucidate their relationships to other animals. One example is the tommotiids – a previously very poorly understood group of cone-shaped fossils that I have been able to show represent one of the first steps in the evolution of the Brachiopoda (lamp shells) and Phoronida (horse-shoe worms).