Ursula Smith

Assistant Collection Manager, Palaeontology

Dr Ursula Smith
Dr Ursula Smith
Source: Museum Victoria

Dr. Ursula Smith is a palaeontologist interested in how species form and change through time. She firmly believes that every item in the museum's collections has an interesting story and that collections have an important role to play not only in research, but also in education and outreach.


Ursula obtained her PhD in 2011 from Cornell University in New York where her research focused on integrating fossil and modern datasets to investigate evolutionary patterns in a group of New Zealand gastropods.  She started her academic career as a geologist, obtaining a BA and MSci in Geological Sciences from Cambridge University then transitioned firmly towards palaeontology via an MSc in Biological Systematics from Imperial College, London.

Since starting to work with collections during her undergraduate research project and realising how much she loved being in a museum environment, Ursula has spent much of her time working in museums in various roles.  She worked as an exhibits intern at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge and as a research assistant at the Natural History Museum in London before starting her PhD.  During her time at Cornell, she spent much of her time as a research and collections assistant at the Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY. 

Since she was an undergraduate, Ursula has also been involved in education and outreach events aimed at making science accessible and relevant to the public, integrating  museum collection objects as often as possible.

Ursula joined Museum Victoria in January 2011 as a volunteer, reorganising portions of the invertebrate palaeontology collections. She has since been employed at the Museum in the Ichthyology section working on the Australian Faunal Directory project compiling taxonomic and distribution information for several orders of Australian fish, and is currently the Assistant Collection Manager in Palaeontology.

Current activities

Ursula is currently the Assistant Collection Manager in Palaeontology. In addition to dealing with every day collection management tasks such as dealing with loans of material to other institutions and researchers around the world, she is responsible for organising the Victoria’s important microfossil and palynology collection. 

Ursula also contributes to the Museum Victoria blog.

Last updated 31 October 2012

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