Advisory Board

Professor Paul M. A. Willis

Paul M. A. Willis, Ph.D. is an Australian Palaeontologist, Science Communicator, and former Director of the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus). He is a freelance science communicator through his company Media Engagement Services as well as conducts paleontological studies as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Flinders University. He also runs a video production company, Palaeo Pictures and the Australian Palaeontological Research Institute (APRI).

In 2000 Paul was a joint recipient of the Eureka Prize for Science Communication and was voted Australian Skeptic of the Year in 2002 for working to counter pseudoscience.

Paul earned his Bachelor’s Degree of Science in zoology and geology at the University of Sydney and earned his Ph.D. in palaeontology at the University of New South Wales. His doctoral thesis was on The Phylogenetic Systematics of Australasian Crocodilians. Paul’s doctoral studies resulted in the erection of several new taxa including the subfamily Mekosuchinae, and the genera Baru, Kambara, Australosuchus, Trilophosuchus, and Harpacoshampsa.

Paul conducted extensive field work, mostly in North Queensland, as well as completed a period as a paleontological preparator at the Australian Museum. During this time Paul prepared an opalised skeleton dubbed by him as Eric the Plesiosaur and later named Umoonasaurus.

He has been a resident palaeontologist on ten Antarctic expeditions and has written or co-authored many books on dinosaurs, rocks, and fossils, including the Dinosaurs (1996, 1999, 2002), Dinosaurs (Time-Life Guides) (2000), The Little Guides: Dinosaurs (2003), A Guide To Dinosaurs (2003), Rocks, Fossils and Dinosaurs (2002), Digging Up Deep Time: Fossils, Dinosaurs and Megabeasts from Australia’s Distant Past (2005), Rocks and Minerals (My First Pocket Guide) (1997), Rocks & Fossils (1999), and Rocks (2002).

While Paul found his first fossil when he was six, the earliest part of his collection was a small echinoid collected by his parents on their honeymoon.

Paul has had many interesting jobs over the past 10 years including as the Curator of Vertebrates at the Macleay Museum in the University of Sydney and a couple of years touring Australia with a life-size inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex as part of a primary school education program. In 1992–93, he spent nearly 9 months in Bonn, Germany, as part of an exchange program where he drank too much beer and measured lots of dead crocodiles.

In early 1997, Paul commenced a traineeship with ABC as the Science Broadcaster. During his career in public broadcasting, he went on to report and present stories for Quantum and Catalyst on ABC and the series Monster Bug Wars on SBS.

Paul produced over 350 stories for Catalyst during a ten-year stint with the program. He left his employment at ABC to take up directorship of the Royal Institution of Australia in 2011 which ended in July 2017.

He also worked for ABC radio, creating The Correx Files for Triple J, presenting numerous regular science talkback segments on various radio stations across the country and contributing to The Science Show, Earthbeat, and The Health Report.

Visit his Google Scholar profile, Wikipedia profile, and ABC page.