Ceri Thomas

Writing my thesis and drinking lots of coffee!

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing to do in science is talk to other people about ideas- good ideas, bad ideas, crazy ideas- communication is one of the best ways for scientists to discover new things and challenge their own perceptions about problems. I love learning something new every day and I love pondering the BIG questions in animal evolution: What did our earliest ancestors on earth look like? How and when did animals evolve? Did they like to drink as much tea as I do?



I went to Tre-Gib Comprehensive School (1994-2001) in Llandeilo, Wales- the home of many fossils from the Silurian Period!


I did my BSc in Geology at the University of Cardiff then I went to the University of Bristol to do my MSc in Palaeobiology

Work History:

I’ve been in education for a long time, but I have taught some undergarduate students a thing or two about geology, does that count as work?


I am currently doing a PhD at the University of Bristol

Current Job:

I study the fossilised embryos of ancient marine organisms and

Me and my work

I’m a palaeontologist, looking at the oldest animal embryos on the planet and wondering how on earth they became fossilised!

My Typical Day

I’m writing my thesis at present so my typical day is filled with typing, chewing my pencil and drinking lots of coffee! When I was doing labwork my days were never typical.

So as a final year PhD student I’m spending lots of time writing my thesis.  This will be the culmination of four years worth of research all neatly typed into an (hopefully) interesting and scintillating piece of work.  So, in a typical day I wrench myself out of bed, read some papers related to my work to get my brain in gear then I type until my fingers are about to drop off then I go and make some tea.   When I was gathering my data for this thesis a ‘typical day’ would involve looking at tiny, sub-millimetre fossil embryos down a microscope or in a scanning electron microscope (those machines that take the really close-up pictures of dust mites and other small things including embryos),  reading papers, drinking tea and eating biscuits (lots), teaching students and occasionally when I was lucky, travelling to Zurich to use the Swiss Light Source, a third generation synchrotron, to look at my fossils in REALLY close detail.  Great fun!  

What I'd do with the money

Ummm, I’d love to put it towards an outreach project where people can come and learn more about early animal life.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Inquisitive, friendly, chocoholic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Everything from Daft Punk to Glen Miller and a whole lot in between!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Fossil hunting in the depths of China was great fun!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To write a novel and have it published; to be able to do fun science all the time, to be able to travel lots, lots more

What did you want to be after you left school?

Funnily enough I wanted to be a palaeontologist ;)

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Nope. I was a complete goody-twoshoes. So boring!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I suppose publishing your work is the best thing you can do as a scientist. From a more selfish point of view it has to be “working” on the Great Barrier Reef for a month, looking at beautiful coral, sponge and mollusc embryos and swimming with the turtles.

Tell us a joke.

OK this is bad……How do you tell the sex of a chromosome? Pull down its genes! (Sorry)