SciSoc Spotlight Issue 30 – Dr Daniel Field

3 Dec 2021. Dr Daniel Field is with the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge. A PDF version of this Issue is available here.

Which organisation and faculty are you currently attached to?

I am a University Lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences, a fellow of Christ’s College, and the incoming Strickland Curator of Ornithology at the University Museum of Zoology

What is your sepcialisation?

My expertise focuses on the evolutionary origins of birds from non-avian dinosaurs, and their subsequent diversification that gave rise to living bird diversity

A short summary of your current research topic

I am interested in the earliest evidence of ‘modern’ birds in the fossil record, and how these fossils can help us understand how, where, and when modern birds originated, as well as what these fossils can tell us about how the biosphere persisted through the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

What made you decide to pursue research?

I have been fascinated with wildlife since I was a young child, and gradually became curious about the evolutionary origins of present-day biodiversity. Birds and dinosaurs have always been a passion of mine, and the opportunity to link those interests by studying evolutionary biology and palaeontology made a career in research inevitable.

One piece of advice…

I think that learning to think creatively in order to identify and pursue key outstanding scientific questions is the most important thing an aspiring researcher can do. What are the fundamental but untested assumptions underpinning your area of research? Are there different ways that those assumptions can be tested? And if those assumptions fail to be substantiated, what are the implications for the field?

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