Dr. Luke Mander

Lecturer in Earth Sciences
The Open University


I received a PhD in 2010 from University College Dublin for a thesis that investigated 200 million-year-old fossil plant remains in East Greenland. I then spent two years as a postdoc in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I returned to the UK with a two-year EU Marie Curie fellowship in the Earth System Science group at the University of Exeter. I have been a lecturer at The Open University since 2015.


Research Interests

My current research activities are focused on plant palaeobiology and morphology. I am interested in quantifying the morphology of plants, classifying plants on the basis of their morphological characteristics, and investigating the biogeographical evolution of plant diversity. I work with both living plants and material from the plant fossil record, which represents a vast archive of morphological novelties and natural design solutions that have been produced over the course of evolutionary time. In this context, I am particularly interested in the evolution of tropical rainforests, which are among the most complex ecosytems on Earth. I have worked mostly with pollen grains, which are morphologically fascinating objects with an outstanding fossil record, but also work with the leaves of vascular plants. 


Current Projects and Collaborations

Palaeobiology, evolution and ecology of tropical vegetation, particularly rainforests

Dr Carlos Jaramillo (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama)

Prof. Francisca E. Oboh–Ikuenobe (Geology and Geophysics, Missouri University of Science and Technology, USA)

Plant morphology and morphometric methods

Prof. Washington Mio (Mathematics, Florida State University, USA)

Dr Surangi W. Punyasena (Plant Biology, University of Illinois, USA)

Comparative palaeobiology and mass extinctions

Prof. Richard J. Twitchett (Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, UK)


Key Papers

Please visit here for further information on Luke's research.