Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Marine Fau

SNSF Postdoc Mobility Fellow

My current research interests lie in the macroevolutionary patterns that drive organismal evolution, focusing on morphological evolution, phylogenetic relationships, and biogeographical distribution of echinoderms. The class Asteroidea (sea stars or starfishes) is an emblematic group of marine invertebrates, comprising over 1900 extant species, and approximately 600 extinct species. Sea stars occur worldwide in cold to tropical waters, from the tidal zone to the abyss, and exhibit a large variety of shapes, sizes and ecologies. They are important members of benthic communities. Almost all modern groups of sea stars appear in the fossil record during the Jurassic, meaning that they evolved independently from each other over ~200 million years. Therefore, fossils are essential to understand the evolutionary history of this group. Developing characters from the skeleton allows the conjoint analysis of living and fossil sea stars in phylogenetic studies. My goals are to estimate the timing and pace of diversification of post-Palaeozoic sea stars, to better understand their evolutionary history the processes that have shaped modern marine ecosystems more broadly. 


Department / Division
  • 2020    PhD in Earth Sciences, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. 
  • 2016    MSc in Environmental and Ecological Sciences, Universit√© Pierre et Marie Curie, France. 
  • 2014    BSc (Licence) in Earth Sciences, Universit√© Pierre et Marie Curie, France. 

Research Interests

Evolution, paleobiology and systematics of Asteroidea, especially post-metamorphosis ontogeny and comparative anatomy of the skeleton using phylogenetic and comparative methods.