Staff profile

Dr Laura McLennan

Lecturer in Palaeontology/ Environmental Sciences


Biology and Zoology, Geography, Geology


College of Science and Engineering


School of Built and Natural Environment

Research centre

Environmental Sustainability Research Centre


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am a Lecturer in the School of Built and Natural Environment. My main interests and teaching are in Palaeontology, but I also teach other Geology and Bioscience subjects. This means that much of what I do is very interdisciplinary.

I am also the Employability Lead for the School of Built and Natural Environment. This means that I spend a lot of time working with students, helping to develop careers-related skills and aspirations, and with employers from sector-leading companies. Over the years excellent links with Alumni have been created, most of our inspirational speakers that I invite back to the university for career days used to be students at the University of Derby themselves.

Finally, I spend a lot of my time in schools and at public events; running activities, giving talks and generally promoting the disciplines within Environmental Sciences. From 2018-2019 I spoke to 1500 people at outreach events about Environmental Science subjects.

Teaching responsibilities

I lead a number of modules across Environmental Science including:

I also contribute to class and fieldwork teaching around the following subject areas:

Finally, I am also a personal tutor to a number of students from the Geology and Biology discipline areas.

Research interests

I am interested in all aspects of Palaeontology.

My PhD developed methods of determining the diet of living and fossil sharks from the damage to the surfaces of their teeth.

More recently I have spent time considering the impact of climate change on marine communities in Malta 20 million years ago. I have recently had a number of students help with this research in the field.

I am particularly interested in aspects of Palaeontology that include ecological and environmental interpretation- in short understanding not just what animals and plants once lived on the planet, but how they lived.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

I attend the annual Palaeontological Association conference every year. 

I have recently had the pleasure of presenting some of the research I have been conducting with the help of current undergraduate students on Malta.

Title of the presented work was "Unravelling the Palaeontology of the Maltese Islands".

International experience

I was lucky enough to spend some time in North America during my PhD. I spent the time visiting a number of different museums to analyse their shark tooth collections.

More recently I have been working out on the Island of Gozo, Malta, investigating the Palaeontology on the Island.

Additional interests and activities

In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the natural landscape of the UK. I am currently on a mission to climb/ walk to the highest point in every county of the UK.

I am also a competitive target air-rifle shooter. Every weekend I spend at least one day laying in the mud aiming at bright yellow metal targets. 

Recent publications

McLennan, L.J and Purnell, M.A.P (2021) Dental microwear texture analysis as a tool for dietary discrimination in elasmobranchsScientific Reports11, 2444.