Professor Paul Wignall


Professor Paul Wignall lectures in palaeontology and sedimentology. He obtained his first degree at the University of Oxford and his PhD at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Professor Tony Hallam and has been a lecturer at Leeds since 1989. He has collaborated with numerous colleagues both nationally and internationally, especially at the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), during his wide ranging field expeditions. Wignall has published over 200 research articles and 3 books, most recently: The Worst of Times" How Life on Earth Survived 80 Million Years of Extinctions, published by Princeton University Press and enjoys investigating a very broad spectrum of topics that range from flood basalt eruptions to palaeoecology. He has supervised nearly 30 PhD students and received several awards including the Jean-Baptiste Lamarck Model of the EGU and the Wolfson Merit Award from the Royal Society. He has served on the REF panel, been editor of several geological journals, been president of several geological societies and appeared in over a dozen science documentaries.

Research interests

Wignall has a broad range of research interests spanning sedimentology and palaeontology. He has been investigating the Permo-Triassic mass extinction since the late 1980s and has broadened his research topics to include study of all crises including the late Devonian (Frasnian/Famennian), end-Cretaceous, end-Triassic and Early Jurassic (Toarcian) mass extinction events. His multidisciplinary approach to the origins of these crises in Earth's history includes the study of their fossil, sequence stratigraphic, geochemical sugnature and their stable isotope records. Evidence for marine anoxia is often associated with all of these extinction events and this nicely overlaps with Professor Wignall's other main research interest: the characterisation of black shale depositional environments for which he sues a combination of geochemical, petrographic and palaeoecologcoal approaches. He also investigates Carboniferous basin history of NW Europe.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA, Geology (1st Class Honours), University of Oxford
  • PhD, Palaeoecology, University of Birmingham

Professional memberships

  • The Geological Society
  • The Yorkshire Geological Society
  • The Geological Society of America

Student education

Wignall has taught a diverse range of undergraduate courses at Leeds and currently teaches palaeontology, earth-system science, sedimentology, natural hazards and leads sedimentology field trips.

Research groups and institutes

  • Earth Surface Science Institute
  • Palaeo@Leeds

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>