Dr Emma Nicholls FGS

Role summary

Emma is responsible for the day-to-day management of the vertebrate palaeontology collections, including access, care, development, and research. She works with colleagues in departments across the Museum to carry out or support a range of activities including documentation and digitisation of collections, specimen care and storage, digital content, exhibitions and public engagement, and collections-based research.


Prior to her role at OUMNH, Emma worked in a variety of curatorial roles including Senior Curator at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, Project Curator at the British Museum (working on the Zayed National Museum project) and Curatorial/Museum Assistant at the Grant Museum of Zoology and the Lapworth Museum of Geology. Her work on exhibitions, outreach and education, and collections care have contributed to several museum awards, including Limited Budget Project of the Year awards at both the Grant Museum and the Horniman Museum, and Art Fund Museum of the Year, won by the Horniman in 2022. Emma is Chair of the Geological Curators Group and a Fellow of the Geological Society of London. She also organises scientific and collections management conferences, and is passionate about engaging the public with palaeontology and museum collections, particularly through the digital realm.


Emma has worked across a variety of vertebrate groups but her primary research interest lies in selachians and reptiles from the Mesozoic. Her PhD involved devising a novel approach to categorising elasmobranchs into eco-groups, then testing for patterns in co-habitation across geological time and geographical space. In 2021, she was part of the team of specialists that excavated the Rutland Ichthyosaur, thought to be the largest near-complete reptile skeleton found in Britain to date.