Miss Virginia Harvey


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Virginia Harvey is a marine biologist and a zooarchaeologist, currently studying a PhD at the University of Manchester after being awarded the prestigious Dean’s Award scholarship in 2017. The theme of her research addresses the use of biomolecular methods in the study of human impacts on biodiversity through time. Virginia analyses preserved proteins in ancient bones to acquire faunal identification to help build species presence and composition data. She uses this information to understand how the world has changed under increasing anthropogenic pressures and to assist in the reconstruction of natural baselines. Virginia’s research aims to support the education of future generations of environmental scientists to help crucially sustain the responsible stewardship of our Planet.

EMAIL: virginia.harvey@manchester.ac.uk

Social responsibility

During her PhD, Virginia secured funding and developed 'Carbon Literacy for Labs', a climate change learning initiative, now rolling out nationally across sereral universities in the UK. The lab group that she belongs to is certified as one of the first Carbon Literate labs in the world. Virginia strives to embed social responsibility in her research and beyond, in keeping with her research interests.


PhD: Dean’s Award Scholarship, University of Manchester (Jan 2017–present)

  • Thesis title: Collagen Type I: Sequence evolution, species identification and unlocking past trends in biodiversity
  • This research harnesses the potential of preserved proteins in archaeological marine vertebrate remains from tropical and temperate climes to understand past exploitation patterns of marine species and uncover environmental and biological shifts, utilising:

(a)     Collagen fingerprinting (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry, or ZooMS), in the molecular faunal identification of fragmented bone assemblages

(b)     Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in the identification of taxon-specific collagen biomarkers and amino acid sequencing of whole collagen molecules

(c)     Phylogenetics, using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian inference to create phylogenetic trees from collagen amino acid sequences

  • Advanced and specialist knowledge of bone protein chemistry, laboratory-based extractions and computational modes of analysis, including the use of MASCOT, mMass, FlexAnalysis, BioEdit, R, MrBayes, FigTree, PAUP, Tracer, Mesquite, MEGA-X, Scaffold, Xcalibur and Geneious
  • Training, teaching and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students (national and international) and post-doctoral researchers, including developing research topics for undergraduates and MSc/MPhil students; hosting and organising journal club sessions and lab meetings
  • Working formally as a Teaching Assistant supporting lectures and practical classes, teaching overseas on field trips, and designing and executing field experiments including tropical biodiversity assessments on managed and unmanaged sites
  • Highly developed oral and written communication skills


MPhil: University of Manchester (Part-time, Sept 2014–Sept 2016)

  • Thesis title: Proteomic Analyses of Sub-Fossil Vertebrate Remains from the Cayman Islands (Caribbean)
  • Investigating palaeobiodiversity, targeting the Cayman Islands as a case example due to its significant vertebrate extinction rates as a consequence of modern and historical human activities
  • Constructing a molecular ‘toolset’ for analysis of subfossil bone deposits from cave systems, including collagen fingerprinting (ZooMS) for species identification and 14C radiocarbon dating, in the acquisition of collagen survival timeframes and last occurrence dates; interrogating the suitability of this ‘toolset’ for understanding and documenting biological and ecological changes through time in this locality


BSc Hons: The University of Wales, Bangor (2004–2007)

  • Zoology with Marine Zoology (First Class Honours)
  • Dissertation: The fate of the Y-organ following the puberty moult of the spider crab Maja squinado and an investigation into neurohormonal aspects of growth and moult regulation (Crustacea: Decapoda). Awarded 81%, and 1st Prize for best presentation at end-of-year conference

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Associated Member   (2015–Present)

Society for American Archaeology (SAA)

Further information

  • Full clean driving licence
  • ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0796-8287
  • Other languages: Kiswahili (Intermediate)
  • SCUBA diver (Advanced Diver under BSAC, Divemaster under PADI, Instructor of Discover Scuba Dives [DSDs] and Refresher courses)
  • First Aid trained
  • Certified as Carbon Literate (www.carbonliteracy.com)
  • Musician

External positions

Project Co-ordinator and Fundraising Officer, The Carbon Literacy Project

1 Jan 2014 → …

Areas of expertise

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2017 - Master of Philosophy, Proteomic Analyses of Sub-Fossil Vertebrate Remains from the Cayman Islands, The University of Manchester (2015 - 2017)
  • 2007 - Bachelor of Science, First Class, BSc Hons, Zoology with Marine Zoology (School of Biological Sciences), Bangor University (2004 - 2007)

Related information


Activity: Participating in or organising event(s)Participating in a conference, workshop, exhibition, performance, inquiry, course etc

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

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Student Theses

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