Research Profile

Maria Eithne McNamara

Biography

Dr Maria McNamara is a palaeobiologist in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University College Cork. Maria has a PhD from University College Dublin and did postdoctoral research at University College Dublin, before working as a Geopark Geologist in what is now the Burren-Cliffs of Moher Global Geopark. She then worked as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Yale University (USA) and did further postdoctoral research at the University of Bristol, before taking up her appointment as Senior Lecturer in Geology at UCC.

Maria’s research focuses on the preservation of soft tissues in the fossil record and how this provides unique insights into the biology of ancient animals. Her current major research projects relate to the preservation of structural and pigmentary colours in fossils, especially insects and feathers, and how this informs on the evolution of communication strategies in animals through time. Maria leads a growing research group of 7 researchers and various keen undergraduate research volunteers. Maria's research is highly interdisciplinary and lies at the interface of geology, palaeontology, evolutionary biology, chemistry and applied physics. As a result her collaborators are from diverse disciplines in institutions around the globe.

Maria’s teaching is closely aligned with her research. She teaches the following undergraduate modules at UCC: second year sedimentology/palaeobiology fieldtrip (GL2016), third year evolution (BL3002 / GL3007), fourth year palaeobiology (GL4024).
 
Public outreach of science is a major feature of Maria’s work at UCC and beyond. She has hosted exhibits and interactive public lectures at science festivals in Ireland, the UK and beyond, delivered interactive classes to primary and secondary school students, featured in numerous interviews on live radio and TV and on TV science documentaries.

Research Interests

I work on the preservation and palaeobiology of exceptionally preserved fossils. My research is highly interdisciplinary and lies at the interface of the geological, biological and physical sciences. In particular my work encompasses the fields of taphonomy, anatomy, sedimentology, evolutionary biology, organic geochemistry, inorganic geochemistry and applied optics.

My research combines fossil-based and experimental approaches to investigating the processes of decay and soft tissue preservation that control patterns in the fossil record of various vertebrate and invertebrate taxa. Key research areas include:

(1) Lacustrine-hosted exceptional biotas
(2) Organic preservation of decay-prone tissues          
(3) Fossil structural colours
(4) Pigmentary colours in fossil insects and feathers
(5) Evolution of feathers

Major research outcomes to date include the first undisputed reports of, and taphonomic models for, organic preservation of very decay-prone tissues (with subcellar anatomical fidelity) in the fossil record. My work has also elucidated the role of tissue-specific controls on soft tissue preservation in fossils, and has demonstrated that exceptional preservation of vertebrates in lake settings is controlled by biological factors, not short-term environmental fluctuations. More recent work includes the first systematic investigations of the fossil record of structural colour, including discoveries of novel features, and of the taphonomy of feather coloration. I have pioneered the use of experimental maturation techniques in understanding the fossil record of colour in insects and feathers, and have produced the first synthesis of the field of fossil colour. My work on the evolution of feathers has confirmed that feathers evolved early in the evolutionary history of dinosaurs.

To date I have secured over €2.3M in research funding from national and international sources. I encourage undergraduate students to take part in research projects and offer regular opportunities for my undergraduate students to get involved in ongoing projects in my research laboratory.


Research Grants

 ProjectFunding
Body
Start DateEnd DateAward
SFI Infrastructure Development Programme grant for purchase of a micro-FTIR systemScience Foundation Ireland01-JAN-17€135,799.00
The impact of organic matter on heavy metal bioavailability in urban soils: experimental and field-based approachesOther: Not Listed€144,700.00
Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre for access to synchrotron beamlines. ‘Taphonomy of vertebrate integument’Stanford University01-JAN-17€92,448.00
Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre for access to synchrotron beamlines. ‘Taphonomy of pigmentary colour in insects’Stanford University01-JAN-17€43,686.00
SFI Infrastructure Development Programme grant for purchase of a field emission scanning electron microscope and ultramicrotomeScience Foundation Ireland01-JAN-1731-DEC-18€135,227.00
Science Foundation Ireland ERC Support GrantScience Foundation Ireland01-AUG-1631-JUL-21€272,473.00
European Research Council Starting Grant. ‘The evolution of animal coloration through deep time: homology, taphonomy and evolutionary novelty’ (ANICOLEVO)Horizon 202001-JAN-1631-DEC-20€1,568,000.00
Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre for access to synchrotron beamlinesStanford University01-JAN-15€87,382.00
Irish Research Council New Foundations award for ‘Evolution of 3D biophotonic nanostructures’Irish Research Council01-MAR-1430-NOV-14€6,000.00
UCC Strategic Research Fund awards to support (1) fieldwork in China and Russia, value €5,000; (2) repair of in-house SEM, value €1,500; (3) access to synchrotron facilities at Stanford UniversityUCC Strategic Research Fund01-OCT-1331-DEC-14€16,500.00
Marie Curie Career Integration Grant 'The taphonomy of colour in fossil insects and feathers'European Commission01-SEP-1311-MAY-18€100,000.00
Tyndall National Institute National Access Programme GrantTyndall National Institute National Access Programme01-JAN-13€12,159.00
Palaeontological Association Grant-in-aid to support a topical session titled ‘Konservat-Lagerstatten’ at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of AmericaOther: Not Listed01-JAN-13€1,716.00
Palaeontological Association Grant-in-Aid to develop educational materialsOther: Not Listed01-JAN-13€2,861.00
Geologists’ Association Curry Fund grant to develop educational materialsOther: Not Listed01-JAN-13€3,433.00
University of Bristol Alumni Fund award for palaeontological outreachOther: Not Listed01-JAN-13€1,716.00
Award for beamtime at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource facility at Stanford University. ‘Taphonomy of melanin in fossil insects’Stanford University01-JAN-12€86,046.00
IRCSET-Marie Curie International Mobility Fellowship. ‘Controls on the preservation of colour in the fossil record’Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET)01-JAN-09€239,271.00
SYNTHESYS award for access to research facilities at the Natural History Museum, LondonEU Synthesys programme01-JAN-08€7,000.00
UCD Seed Funding Scheme for travel costs for conference attendanceOther: Not Listed01-JAN-08€1,500.00
SYNTHESYS award for access to research facilities at the Natural History Museum, LondonEU Synthesys programme01-JAN-07€1,000.00
UCD Seed Funding Scheme for purchase of laboratory equipmentOther: Not Listed01-JAN-07€13,000.00
IRCSET Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. ‘The taphonomy of keratinous tissues’Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET)01-JAN-06€98,000.00

Contract Researchers

 Researcher NameProjectRoleFunding Body
Naomi O'ReillyANICOLEVO / Science Foundation Ireland ERC Support GrantResearch AssistantEuropean Commission
Dr Thomas ClementsANICOLEVOPostdoctoral ResearcherEuropean Commission
Dr Chris RogersANICOLEVOPostdoctoral ResearcherEuropean Commission
Dr James JepsonANICOLEVOPostdoctoral ResearcherEuropean Commission
Dr Luke McDonaldANICOLEVOPostdoctoral ResearcherEuropean Commission

Publications

Peer Reviewed Journals

 YearPublication
(2018)'Experimental analysis of soft-tissue fossilization – opening the black box'
Purnell, M.A., Donoghue, P.J.C., Gabbott, S.E., McNamara, M., Murdock, D.J.E., Sansom, R.S. (2018) 'Experimental analysis of soft-tissue fossilization – opening the black box'. Palaeontology, 61 :317-323 [DOI] [Details]
(2018)'Fossil scales illuminate the early evolution of lepidopterans and structural colors'
Zhang, Q., Mey, W., Ansorge, J., Starkey, T.A., McDonald, L.T., McNamara, M.E., Jarzembowski, E.A., Wichard, W., Kelly, R., Ren, X., Chen, J., Zhang, H., Wang, B. (2018) 'Fossil scales illuminate the early evolution of lepidopterans and structural colors'. Science Advances, 4 (e1700988) [DOI] [Details]
(2018)'Non-integumentary melanosomes can bias reconstructions of the colours of fossil vertebrates'
McNamara, M.E., Kaye, J.S., Benton, M.J., Orr, P.J., Rossi, V., Ito, S., Wakamatsu, K. (2018) 'Non-integumentary melanosomes can bias reconstructions of the colours of fossil vertebrates'. Nature Communications, 9 [DOI] [Details]
(2018)'Fossilized skin reveals coevolution with feathers and metabolism in feathered dinosaurs and early birds'
McNamara, M.E., Zhang, F., Kearns, S.L., Orr, P.J., Toulouse, A., Foley, T., Hone, D.W.E., Rogers, C.S., Benton, M.J., Johnson, D., Xu, X., Zhou, Z. (2018) 'Fossilized skin reveals coevolution with feathers and metabolism in feathered dinosaurs and early birds'. Nature Communications, 9 [DOI] [Details]
(2017)'Exceptionally preserved fossil assemblages through geologic time and space'
Muscente, A.D., Schiffbauer, J.D., Broce, J., Laflamme, M., O’Donnell, K., Boag, T.H., Meyer, M., Hawkins, A.D., Huntley, J.W., McNamara, M., MacKenzie, L.A., Stanley Jr, G.D., Hinman, N.W., Hofmann, M.H., Xiao, S. (2017) 'Exceptionally preserved fossil assemblages through geologic time and space'. Gondwana Research, 48 :164-188 [DOI] [Details]
(2016)'Stick 'n' peel: Explaining unusual patterns of disarticulation and loss of completeness in fossil vertebrates'
Orr, P.J., Adler, L.B., Beardmore, S.R., Furrer, H., McNamara, M.E., Peñalver-Mollá, E., Redelstorff, R. (2016) 'Stick 'n' peel: Explaining unusual patterns of disarticulation and loss of completeness in fossil vertebrates'. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 457 :380-388 [DOI] [Details]
(2016)'Reconstructing Carotenoid-Based and Structural Coloration in Fossil Skin'
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S.L., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E. (2016) 'Reconstructing Carotenoid-Based and Structural Coloration in Fossil Skin'. Current Biology, 26 :1075-1082 [DOI] [Details]
(2016)'Fossilization of melanosomes via sulfurization'
McNamara, M.E., Van Dongen, B., Bull, I., Orr, P.J. (2016) 'Fossilization of melanosomes via sulfurization'. Palaeontology, 59 :337-350 [DOI] [Details]
(2015)'The Chinese Pompeii? Death and destruction of dinosaurs in the Early Cretaceous of Lujiatun, NE China'
Rogers, C.S., Hone, D.W., McNamara, M.E., Zhao, Q., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S.K., Benton, M.J. (2015) 'The Chinese Pompeii? Death and destruction of dinosaurs in the Early Cretaceous of Lujiatun, NE China'. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 427 :89-99 [DOI] [Details]
(2014)'A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales'
Godefroit, P., Sinitsa, S.M., Dhouailly, D., Bolotsky, Y.L., Sizov, A.V., McNamara, M.E., Benton, M.J., Spagna, P. (2014) 'A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales'. Science, 345 :451-455 [DOI] [Details]
(2014)'What big eyes you have: the ecological role of giant pterygotid eurypterids'
Anderson, R.P., McCoy, V., McNamara, M.E. (2014) 'What big eyes you have: the ecological role of giant pterygotid eurypterids'. Biology Letters, 10 [DOI] [Details]
(2014)'Cryptic iridescence in a fossil weevil generated by single diamond photonic crystals'
McNamara, M.E., Saranathan, V., Locatelli, E., Noh, H., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P., Cao, H. (2014) 'Cryptic iridescence in a fossil weevil generated by single diamond photonic crystals'. Journal Of The Royal Society Interface, 11 [DOI] [Details]
(2014)'Response to Comment on ‘A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales’'
Godefroit, P., Sinitsa, S.M., Dhouailly, D., Bolotsky, Y.L., Sizov, A.V., McNamara, M.E., Benton, M.J., Spagna, P. (2014) 'Response to Comment on ‘A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales’'. Science, 346 [DOI] [Details]
(2013)'The fossil record of insect color illuminated by maturation experiments'
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J., Gupta, N.S., Locatelli, E.R., Qiu, L., Yang, H., Wang, Z., Noh, H., Cao, H. (2013) 'The fossil record of insect color illuminated by maturation experiments'. Geology, [DOI] [Details]
(2013)'Experimental maturation of feathers: implications for reconstructions of fossil feather colour'
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J.O., Field, D., Wang, Z. (2013) 'Experimental maturation of feathers: implications for reconstructions of fossil feather colour'. Biology Letters, [DOI] [Details]
(2013)'The taphonomy of colour in fossil insects and feathers'
McNamara, M.E. (2013) 'The taphonomy of colour in fossil insects and feathers'. Palaeontology, 56 :557-575 [DOI] [Details]
(2012)'The original colours of fossil beetles'
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J., Noh, H., Cao, H. (2012) 'The original colours of fossil beetles'. Proceedings of The Royal Society B, 279 :1114-1121 [DOI] [Details]
(2012)'The controls on the preservation of structural color in fossil insects'
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J. (2012) 'The controls on the preservation of structural color in fossil insects'. Palaios, 27 :443-454 [DOI] [Details]
(2012)'What controls the taphonomy of exceptionally preserved taxa – environment or biology? A case study using exceptionally preserved frogs from the Miocene Libros Konservat-Lagerstätte, Spain'
McNamara, M. E., Orr, P. J., Kearns, S., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E. (2012) 'What controls the taphonomy of exceptionally preserved taxa – environment or biology? A case study using exceptionally preserved frogs from the Miocene Libros Konservat-Lagerstätte, Spain'. Palaios, 27 :63-77 [DOI] [Details]
(2011)'Fossilized biophotonic nanostructures reveal the original colors of 47 million-year-old moths'
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J., Wedmann, S., Noh, H., Cao, H. (2011) 'Fossilized biophotonic nanostructures reveal the original colors of 47 million-year-old moths'. PloS Biology, 9 [DOI] [Details]
(2011)'Biological controls upon the physical taphonomy of exceptionally preserved salamanders from the Miocene of Rubielos de Mora, northeast Spain'
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Manzocchi, T., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E. (2011) 'Biological controls upon the physical taphonomy of exceptionally preserved salamanders from the Miocene of Rubielos de Mora, northeast Spain'. Lethaia, 45 :210-226 [DOI] [Details]
(2010)'Organic preservation of fossil musculature with ultracellular detail'
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E. (2010) 'Organic preservation of fossil musculature with ultracellular detail'. Proceedings of The Royal Society B, 277 :423-427 [DOI] [Details]
(2009)'Soft tissue preservation in Miocene frogs from Libros (Spain): Insights into the genesis of decay microenvironments'
McNamara, M. E., Orr, P. J., Kearns, S., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E. (2009) 'Soft tissue preservation in Miocene frogs from Libros (Spain): Insights into the genesis of decay microenvironments'. Palaios, 24 :104-117 [DOI] [Details]
(2009)'Exceptionally preserved tadpoles from the Miocene of Libros, Spain: Ecomorphological reconstruction and the impact of ontogeny upon taphonomy'
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E. (2009) 'Exceptionally preserved tadpoles from the Miocene of Libros, Spain: Ecomorphological reconstruction and the impact of ontogeny upon taphonomy'. Lethaia, 43 :290-306 [DOI] [Details]
(2006)'High fidelity preservation of bone marrow in c. 10 million year old amphibians'
McNamara, M. E., Orr, P. J., Kearns, S., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E. (2006) 'High fidelity preservation of bone marrow in c. 10 million year old amphibians'. Geology, 34 :641-644 [DOI] [Details]

Book Chapters

 YearPublication
(2010)'The Libros biota'
McNamara, M.E. (2010) 'The Libros biota' In: Geologia de Teruel. Teruel, Spain: Instituto de Estudios Turolenses. [Details]

Conference Publications

 YearPublication
(2018)International Palaeontological Congress (IPC) 5, Paris, France
McNamara, M.E., Álvarez Armada, N., Webb, S., Gill, F. (2018) X-ray fluorescence as a tool for interpreting pigmentary colours in fossil insects International Palaeontological Congress (IPC) 5, Paris, France [Details]
(2018)International Palaeontological Congress (IPC) 5, Paris, France
McNamara, M.E., Zhang, F., Kearns, S., Orr, P., Toulouse, A., Foley, T., Hone, D., Rogers, C., Benton, M., Xing, X. (2018) Exceptionally preserved skin structure reveals the coevolution of skin, feathers and metabolism in feathered dinosaurs and early birds International Palaeontological Congress (IPC) 5, Paris, France [Details]
(2018)Living Light, Cambridge, UK
McNamara, M.E. (2018) Biophotonic structures in insects through deep time: insights from fossils and taphonomic experiments Living Light, Cambridge, UK [Details]
(2017)Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Meeting, Seattle, USA
McNamara, M.E., Lockyer, N., Godefroit, P., Douahilly, D., Benton, M.J., Sinitsa, S. (2017) Sulfur speciation in soft tissues from a Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Meeting, Seattle, USA [Details]
(2017)European Association of Vertebrate Paleontology, Munich, Germany
McNamara, M.E. (2017) Preservation and biological significance of melanin in fossil vertebrates European Association of Vertebrate Paleontology, Munich, Germany [Details]
(2017)Goldschmidt 2017, Paris, France
Álvarez Armada, N., McNamara, M.E., Webb, S.M., Gill, F.L. (2017) X-ray fluorescence as a tool for interpreting fossilized pigmentary colours Goldschmidt 2017, Paris, France [Details]
(2017)Goldschmidt 2017, Paris, France
Rogers, C.S., McNamara, M.E., Webb, S.M. (2017) Synchrotron X-ray fluorescence reveals melanosome trace element chemistry in vertebrates and invertebrate chordates Goldschmidt 2017, Paris, France [Details]
(2017)Goldschmidt 2017, Paris, France
Rossi, V., McNamara, M.E. (2017) Trace element chemistry of melanosomes revealed by synchrotron-X-ray fluorescence: a tool for interpreting fossil vertebrate soft tissue Goldschmidt 2017, Paris, France [Details]
(2017)2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland
Álvarez Armada, N., McNamara, M.E., Kearns, S.L., Webb, S.M., Gill, F.L., McGraw, K.J. (2017) Biases in the fossil record of patterned insects 2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland [Details]
(2017)2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland
Astrop, T.I., Rogers, C.S., McNamara, M.E. (2017) What is a melanosome? Diverse types of pigment granules in extant cephalopods: implications for interpretations of fossil melanosomes 2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland [Details]
(2017)2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland
McDonald, L.T., McNamara, M.E., Vukusic, P. (2017) Diverse 3D photonic nanostructures in fossil insect scales 2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland [Details]
(2017)2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland
Odin, G.P., McNamara, M.E. (2017) Experimental taphonomy of circularly polarizing nanostructures in scarab beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) 2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland [Details]
(2017)2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland
Rogers, C.S., McNamara, M.E. (2017) Tissue-specific trace element chemistry of melanosomes in vertebrates revealed by synchrotron X-ray fluorescence 2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland [Details]
(2017)2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland
Rossi, V., McNamara, M.E., Webb, S.M. (2017) Trace element chemistry of melanosomes revealed by synchrotron X-ray fluorescence: a tool for interpreting fossil vertebrate soft tissue 2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstatten, Cork, Ireland [Details]
(2017)60th Irish Geological Research Meeting, Dublin, Ireland
Álvarez Armada, N., McNamara, M.E., Webb, S.M., Gill, F.L. (2017) The colour of ancient insects: insights from synchrotron X-ray fluorescence 60th Irish Geological Research Meeting, Dublin, Ireland [Details]
(2017)60th Irish Geological Research Meeting, Dublin, Ireland
Rossi, V., McNamara, M.E. (2017) Significance of melanosomes in fossil vertebrate soft tissues: insights from morphology and trace element chemistry of melanosomes 60th Irish Geological Research Meeting, Dublin, Ireland [Details]
(2016)60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Lyon, France
Álvarez Armada, N., McNamara, M.E., Webb, S.M., Gill, F.L. (2016) The origins of colour patterns in fossil insects: insights from trace elements chemistry 60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Lyon, France [Details]
(2016)60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Lyon, France
McNamara, M.E., Godefroit, P., Dhouailly, D., Benton, M.J., Sinitsa, S.M., Bolotsky, Y.L., Sizov, A.V., Spagna, P. (2016) Ultrastructure and chemistry of integumentary structures in an ornithischian dinosaur 60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Lyon, France [Details]
(2016)60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Lyon, France
Rogers, C.S., McNamara, M.E. (2016) Using melanosomes to discriminate between tissues in vertebrate eyes 60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Lyon, France [Details]
(2016)60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Lyon, France
Rossi, V., McNamara, M.E. (2016) Discriminating between melanosomes from different tissues using geometry and trace element chemistry: a tool for interpreting fossil vertebrate soft tissue 60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Lyon, France [Details]
(2016)Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, Colorado, USA
Álvarez Armada, N., McNamara, M.E., Webb, S.M., Gill, F.L. (2016) Spatial variation of cuticular trace elements in patterned insects Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, Colorado, USA [Details]
(2016)European Geosciences Union, Vienna, Austria
McNamara, M.E., Field, D. (2016) Maturation experiments reveal bias in the fossil record of feathers European Geosciences Union, Vienna, Austria [Details]
(2014)4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina
McNamara, M.E., Kaye, J.S., Benton, M.J., Orr, P.J. (2014) Non-integumentary melanosomes can bias reconstructions of the colours of fossil vertebrate skin 4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina [Details]
(2014)4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina
McNamara, M.E., Locatelli, E.R., Kearns, S.L., Webb, S., Orr, P.J., Briggs, D.E.G., Qiu, L., Yang, S., Wang, Z. (2014) X-ray mapping of pigmentary colours in fossil and modern insects 4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina [Details]
(2014)4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina
Rogers, C.S., Benton M.J., McNamara, M.E. (2014) Experimental decay of avian integument: implications for the preservation of skin in the fossil record 4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina [Details]
(2014)Taphos: 7th International Meeting on Taphonomy and Fossilization, Ferrara, Italy
McNamara, M.E., Kaye, J.S., Lockyer, N., Benton, M.J., Orr, P.J. (2014) Reconstructing the original colors of fossil vertebrate skin: implications of non-integumentary melanosomes Taphos: 7th International Meeting on Taphonomy and Fossilization, Ferrara, Italy [Details]
(2014)57th Irish Geological Research Meeting, Dublin, Ireland
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E. (2014) Complex colour patterning in a fossil snake 57th Irish Geological Research Meeting, Dublin, Ireland [Details]
(2013)125th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, Colorado, USA
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S., Alcalá, L., Anadón P., Peñalver, E. (2013) Color patterns in a fossil snake 125th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, Colorado, USA [Details]
(2012)Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Dublin, Ireland
McNamara, M.E. (2012) Colour in the fossil record: insights from experiments. Invited speaker at the symposium on ‘Taphonomic processes and the fidelity of the fossil record’ Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Dublin, Ireland [Details]
(2012)Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Charlotte, USA
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J., Gupta, N.S., Locatelli, E.R., Qiu, L., Yang, H., Wang, Z., Noh, H., Cao, H. (2012) The fossil record of insect color illuminated by maturation experiments Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Charlotte, USA [Details]
(2012)Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Charlotte, USA
McNamara, M.E., Locatelli, E.R., Webb, S., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J. (2012) Chemical fingerprinting of pigmentary colors in fossil insects Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Charlotte, USA [Details]
(2012)Annual Symposium of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, Oxford, UK
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J., Field, D., Wang, Z. (2012) Experimental maturation of feathers: implications for reconstructions of fossil feather colour Annual Symposium of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, Oxford, UK [Details]
(2011)60th Annual Meeting of the Lepidopterist’s Society, New Haven, CT, USA
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J. (2011) The original colors of fossil moths 60th Annual Meeting of the Lepidopterist’s Society, New Haven, CT, USA [Details]
(2011)Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, Colorado, USA
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J. (2011) The original colors of fossil moths Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Denver, Colorado, USA [Details]
(2011)55th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Plymouth, UK
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J. (2011) The original colours of fossil moths 55th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Plymouth, UK [Details]
(2010)70th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Pittsburgh, PE, USA
Redelstorff, R., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S., McNamara, M.E. (2010) Die and rot: experimental taphonomy of tadpoles 70th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Pittsburgh, PE, USA [Details]
(2010)54th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Ghent, Belgium
McNamara, M.E., Briggs, D.E.G., Orr, P.J. (2010) Understanding fossil colour: preservation of structural colours in fossil beetles 54th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Ghent, Belgium [Details]
(2010)3rd International Palaeontological Congress, London
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J. (2010) Experimental degradation of birds and mice: implications for the fossil record 3rd International Palaeontological Congress, London [Details]
(2010)3rd International Palaeontological Congress, London
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S., Alcalà, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver-Mollá, E. (2010) A new integrated approach to taphonomic analysis of exceptionally preserved taxa 3rd International Palaeontological Congress, London [Details]
(2010)3rd International Palaeontological Congress, London
Redelstorff, R., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S., McNamara, M.E. (2010) Die and rot: experimental taphonomy of tadpoles 3rd International Palaeontological Congress, London [Details]
(2009)53rd Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Birmingham, UK
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S., Alcalà, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver-Mollá, E. (2009) Organic preservation of fossil musculature with ultracellular detail 53rd Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Birmingham, UK [Details]
(2008)1st meeting of the Northern Environmental Education Development Project, Hofn, Iceland
McNamara, M.E. (2008) Geological evolution of the Burren region, western Ireland 1st meeting of the Northern Environmental Education Development Project, Hofn, Iceland [Details]
(2008)2nd Geoparks Ireland Forum, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, Fermanagh, Ireland
McNamara, M.E. (2008) The Burren Geopark Project: a work in progress 2nd Geoparks Ireland Forum, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, Fermanagh, Ireland [Details]
(2008)52nd Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Glasgow, Scotland
McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J. (2008) Experimental taphonomy of vertebrates: tissue degradation, disarticulation, and implications for the fossil record 52nd Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Glasgow, Scotland [Details]

Professional Activities

Honours and Awards

 YearTitleAwarding Body
2017Paleonturology Award 2017 (recognizes outstanding palaeontological research) Fundacion Conjunto Paleontologico de Teruel – Dinópolis
2016Selected to take part in the ‘Women on Walls’ programme To honour leading Irish female scientists by commissioning a new portrait for permanent display at the Royal Irish Academy Royal Irish Academy
2016Invited to meet President of Ireland as Celebration of ‘Women in Science’ Dr Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin
2014Early Career Researcher of the Year University College Cork
2014Hodson Award (conferred on a palaeontologist who has had no more than 10 years of full time experience after their PhD and who has made a notable contribution to the science) The Palaeontological Association
2012Selected to host exhibit of prehistoric colours in fossil insects and feathers’ at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, London The Royal Society
2010Palaios Best Paper of 2009 (for my 2009 manuscript 'Soft tissue preservation in Miocene frogs from Libros (Spain): insights into the genesis of decay microenvironments') Palaios
2009British Science Association Charles Lyell Award for science communication British Science Association
2005Irish Geological Research Meeting Best Oral Presentation Irish Geological Association
2005The Palaeontological Association President's Prize The Palaeontological Association
2003The Palaeontological Association President's Prize The Palaeontological Association

Professional Associations

 AssociationFunctionFrom / To
The Palaeontological Association Member of Council, specific role: Education Officer01-JAN-02 /
International Palaeontological Association Professional membership01-JAN-03 /
Geological Society of America Professional membership01-JAN-03 /
Paleontological Society Professional membership01-JAN-13 /

Committees

 CommitteeFunctionFrom / To
Outreach activities in the School of BEES Co-ordinator/
School of BEES library representative Representative/
School of BEES Research Committee Core member of RQR team/

Employment

 EmployerPositionFrom / To
University College Cork Senior Lecturer in Geology01-MAY-16 /
University College Cork Lecturer in Geology01-MAY-13 / 30-APR-16
Geological Survey of Ireland / Clare County Council Geopark Geologist01-AUG-08 / 31-JUL-09
University of Bristol Postgraduate Researcher01-SEP-12 / 30-APR-13
Yale University / University College Dublin Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow01-OCT-09 / 31-AUG-12
University College Dublin IRCSET Postdoctoral Research Fellow01-DEC-06 / 31-JUL-08

Education

 YearInstitutionQualificationSubject
2007University College Dublin PhDPalaeobiology
2002National University of Ireland, Galway BScEarth Science

Outreach Activities

 Description

Mar 2018: Hosted ‘Girls into Geoscience’ at University College Cork.

Jan 2018: Hosted an exhibit at the ‘I Wish’ science exhibition, City Hall, Cork.

May 2018: Team member, Palaeontological Association exhibit, Lyme Regis Fossil Festival, UK.

Jan 2018: Hosted an exhibit at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition, RDS, Dublin.

July 2018: Developed materials for the UCC stand at the ‘Mad Scientist’ exhibition at Fota Wildlife Park.

Nov 2017: Hosted an exhibit ‘Walk like a dinosaur’ at Cork Science Festival.

Sept 2017: Team member, Palaeontological Association exhibit, Yorkshire Fossil Festival.

Sept 2017: Organiser of ‘Culture Night’ at the School of BEES.

Jul 2017: Hosted an exhibit at the ‘Mad Scientist’ exhibition at Fota Wildlife Park.

Apr 2017: Delivered two interactive lectures on fossil colour as part of the joint UNESCO / UCC / Cork Co. Co. programme ‘Learning Neighbourhoods’.

Mar 2017: Participant in the ‘Tools of the Trade’ outreach initiative exploring the links between science and art in Cork city schools.

Mar 2016: Delivered an interactive lecture on fossil colour as part of the joint UNESCO / UCC / Cork Co. Co. programme ‘Learning Neighbourhoods’.

Jan 2016: Developed materials for the UCC stand at the BT Young Scientist exhibition, Cork.

Nov 2015: Developed a new exhibit ‘Walk like a Dinosaur’ at the Cork Science Festival exhibition, City Hall, Cork.

Nov 2014: Presented the ‘Prehistoric colours’ exhibit (see below) at the Discovery Science Festival, Cork.

Oct – Dec 2014: Developed the interactive public exhibit ‘The evolution of behaviour: perspectives from the past and present’. Boole Library, UCC.

Jul – Dec 2014: Scientific advisor to the public exhibit ‘Fieldworks’. Lewis Glucksman Gallery, UCC.

Sept 2014: Interviewed by The Sunday Times for the feature 'This is my life: Maria McNamara, Palaeontologist'.

Aug 2014: Presented modules on palaeontology as part of the UCC Eureka! Science summer camps for children (7-11 yrs).

Jul 2014: Extensive media activities related to my co-authored paper on the evolution of feathers published in Science.

(i) Developed a short video explaining the research for the public

(ii) Interviewed on RTE Six-One news

(iii) Interviews for radio: Mooney Goes Wild, Newstalk, RTE, BBC


May 2014: Team member at the Palaeontological Association stand at the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival, Lyme Regis, UK.

Apr 2014: Judge for the regional heat of the international 'Stand-up Science' event.

Mar 2014: Taught modules on palaeontology to secondary school students as part of the UCC School of BEES Transition Year Programme.

Feb 2014: featured in an episode of the BBC series: ‘Fossil wonderlands: Nature’s hidden treasures’.

Nov 2013: Hosted the interactive public exhibit 'Prehistoric colours' at the Discovery Science Festival, Cork.

Nov 2013: Hosted the interactive public exhibit ‘Prehistoric colours’ at the Geologists’ Association Festival of Geology, London.

Aug 2013: Presented the exhibit 'Prehistoric Colours' at the World Science and Technology fair (Bangkok, Thailand). Selected to represent the UK by the British Science Association.

2013 – present: Hosts a public webpage mariamcnamara.ucc.ie that features regular updates on research news, publications, outreach activities, interactive videos and more.

2009 – 2012: Volunteer at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.

(i) Delivered biweekly interactive classes entitled ‘Rocks and Minerals’ to schoolchildren.

(ii) Participated in the annual 'Meet the Scientist' event at the annual Peabody Museum Open Day.

(iii) Participated as a judge in the annual 'Paleoknowledge Bowl' (palaeontology competition for kindergarten schoolchildren).


2008 – 2009: Extensive and diverse geoscience public outreach activities.

(i) Developed geoscience modules for primary and second-level school students and geotourism-related businesses

(ii) co-ordinated a 7-day geoscience festival

(iii) developed educational materials for geosites within the Burren-Cliffs of Moher Geopark, Ireland

(iv) Published the following commercially available booklets through Burren Connect, Ennistymon, Co. Clare: (1) McNamara, M.E. & Hennessy, R.W. 2010. Stone, water and ice: the Geology of the Burren region, Ireland. 32 pp. (2) Hennessy, R.W., McNamara, M.E., & Hoctor, Z. 2010. Stone, water and ice: a geology trip through the Burren. 64 pp. (3) Hennessy, R.W., McNamara, M.E., & Hoctor, Z. 2010. Stone, water and ice: geoscience modules for primary level. 51 pp. + multimedia CD.

(v) Wrote a weekly geoscience column in the 'Clare Champion' regional newspaper (vi) Was interviewed in an episode of the RTE TV series 'EcoEye'

Journal Activities

 JournalRoleTo / From
Journal Of Taphonomy Member of Editorial Board-
Plos Biology Referee-
Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Referee-
Palaios Referee-
Nature Referee-
Proceedings Of The Royal Society B-Biological Sciences Referee-
Journal Of Vertebrate Paleontology Referee-
Cretaceous Research Referee-
Acta Paleontologica Polonica Referee-
Lethaia Referee-

Other Activities

 Description

Examination


External examiner for PhD thesis by Aude Cincotta (supervisor Pascal Godefroit), University of Namur, Belgium, Nov 2017

Opponent for PhD public exam by Johan Gren (supervisor Johan Lindgren), University of Lund, Sweden, Jan 2018

Supervision


Supervisor of MSc (Palaeobiology) for Chris Hazeley at University of Bristol, UK


Editorship

2016 - 2018: Editor of the Palaeontological Association Newsletter

Organization of scientific meetings & workshops


2017: Organised the 2017 International Workshop on Konservat-Lagerstätten, held at University College Cork over two days in July 2017

2013: Hosted a symposium at the 125th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America. ‘Konservat-Lagerstatten: morphology, ecology, and taphonomy of exceptionally preserved fossils.’ 25 oral contributions (including 5 solicited invited speakers)


Invited lectures


2017: 'Preservation and biological significance of melanin in fossil vertebrates'. Keynote. Annual Meeting of the European Association for Vertebrate Palaeontology, Munich, Germany.

2017: 'Sulfur speciation in soft tissues from a Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur'. Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Calgary, Canada.

2016: 'Maturation experiments reveal bias in the fossil record of feathers'. European Geosciences Union, Vienna, Austria.

2016: 'Colouring in the fossil record: insights from fossilized pigments'. Trinity College Dublin, Dept. of Geology seminar series.

2016: 'Colouring in the fossil record: insights from fossilized pigments'. Natural History Museum London, Dept. of Earth Sciences seminar series.

2014: ‘Non-integumentary melanosomes bias reconstructions of the colours of fossil vertebrate skin’. International Palaeontological Convention, Mendoza, Argentina: Symposium on ‘Rotten fossils? Experimental and analytical approaches to decay and exceptional preservation of soft tissues.’

2014: ‘Chemical fingerprinting of fossil insects’. International Palaeontological Convention, Mendoza, Argentina: Symposium on 'Paleontology of superb fossil Lagerstätten of China.'

2014: ‘Fossil insights into the evolution of feathers’. UCC Science Society.

2014: ‘Experimental maturation of coloured tissues and implications for the fossil record’. University of Leeds seminar series.

2014: ‘The colours of fossil insects and feathers’. Cork Geological Association.

2013: ‘The fossil record in technicolour’. Geologists’ Association Festival of Geology, London.

2012: ‘The colours of fossil insects and feathers.’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing, China.

2012: ‘Colour in the fossil record: insights from experiments.’ Invited contribution to the symposium on ‘Taphonomic processes and the fidelity of the fossil record’, Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Dublin, Ireland.

2012: ‘Squashing bugs to understand fossil color: the fossil record and evolution of structural colors in insects’ British Science Festival, University of Aberdeen.

2012: ‘Squashing bugs to understand fossil color: experimental fossilization of structural coloration’. Dept. of Geology & Geophysics Postdoctoral Seminar Series, Yale University.

2012: ‘The colour of fossil insects and feathers’. School of Geological Sciences Seminar Series, University College Dublin.

2012: ‘Ancient insects in technicolor: the preservation and evolution of insect structural colors’. Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies Seminar Series, Yale University.

2012: ‘Fossil insects in technicolor’. Laboratory for Terrestrial Environments Seminar Series, Bryant University, Rhode Island.

2010: ‘Structural colours in fossil insects.’ Dept. of Geology & Geophysics Postdoctoral Seminar Series, Yale University.

2009: ‘What rots? How dead animals decompose and its importance for decoding the history of life.’ British Festival of Science Charles Lyell Award Lecture, Surrey, UK.

2009: ‘Decay, fossils, and interpreting the fossil record.’ Lunchtime seminar series, Dept. of Zoology, Trinity College Dublin.

2009: ‘The making of fossils’. Burrenbeo Trust environmental seminar series, Kinvara, Ireland.

2009: ‘Exceptional fossils: insights into the ecology, biology and behaviour of ancient animals’. Clare Biodiversity Group seminar series, Kilrush, Ireland.

2009: ‘Fantastic fossil flowers’. Burren in Bloom floral festival seminar series, Ballyvaughan, Ireland.

2008: ‘Exceptional fossil preservation: insights from Cenozoic lacustrine faunas.’ University of East Anglia, UK.

2008: ‘A new look at old bones: bugs, brains, (eye) balls and guts in fantastic fossil frogs from the Spanish Miocene’, SBES Seminar Series, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science, Dublin, Ireland.

2007: ‘Organic preservation of bacteria in exceptional faunas from the Spanish Miocene’. Annual General Meeting of the Irish Geological Association, Dublin, Ireland


Teaching Activities

Recent Postgraduates

 Graduation YearStudent NameInstitutionDegree TypeThesis Title
2017Chris Rogers University of BristolPhDTaphonomy of vertebrates in the Cretaceous Jehol Biota (China)
2014Jonathan Kaye University of BristolMScThe taphonomy of melanosomes in non-avian vertebrates

Current Postgraduate Students

 StudentDegree Type
Rossi Valentina Doctoral Degree
Slater Tiffany Doctoral Degree
Alvarez Armada Nidia Doctoral Degree

Modules Taught

 Term (ID))TitleLinkSubject
2019Easter Field Course GL2016Easter Field Course
2019Evolution & Diversity BL3002Evolution & Diversity
2019Evolution for Geologists GL3007Evolution for Geologists
2019Exceptional Glimpses of Ancient Life GL4024Exceptional Glimpses of Ancient Life

Research Information

Internal Collaborators

 NameInstituteCountry
Dr Benjamin Gearey UCC School of ArchaeologyIRELAND

External Collaborators

 NameOrganisation / InstituteCountry
Prof. Mike Benton University of BristolUNITED KINGDOM
Prof. Derek Briggs Yale UniversityU.S.A.
Dr Fiona Gill Leeds UniversityUNITED KINGDOM
Dr Pascal Godefroit Royal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBELGIUM
Dr Stuart Kearns University of BristolUNITED KINGDOM
Dr Nick Lockyer University of ManchesterUNITED KINGDOM
Dr Patrick Orr University College DublinIRELAND
Prof. Dong Ren Capital Normal UniversityCHINA
Dr Samuel Webb Stanford Synchrotron Radiation LightsourceU.S.A.
Dr Sonja Wedmann Forschungsinstitut SenckenbergGERMANY

Contact details

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School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

An Scoil Eolaíochtaí Bitheolaíocha, Domhaneolaíocha agus Comhshaoil

University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland T23 N73K

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