Professor Charles H Wellman

Dr Charles Wellman

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 3689


Room C202, Alfred Denny Building

Palynology Newsletters website:


BSc (1987) University of Southampton, UK
PhD (1991) Cardiff University, Wales, UK
Postdoctoral Research Assistant, The Natural History Museum, London (1991-1992)
Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Cardiff University, Wales, UK (1994-1997)
Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor, Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield (1997-present)

Key Research Interests

image of Ordovician spore

My research addresses the highly topical and controversial problem of the origin and early evolution of land plants. My research integrates evidence from both fossil and living plants. Fossil evidence is in the form of early land plant megafossils and dispersed microfossils—spores and fragments. I am currently working on material from China, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Kazakhstan and Spitsbergen. I study living plants in order to interpret the earliest land plant fossils through, specifically:

  • cladistic analyses of evolutionary relationships
  • molecular clock analyses of evolutionary divergence times
  • analysis of physiological adaptations required for plants to invade the land (particularly Evo-Devo studies on the molecular genetics of spore/pollen wall development).

I am also exploring the impact of the invasion of the land by plants on global change. This has led to research into developing a novel (and currently only) proxy for past UV-B radiation. In recent years I have also extended my research back in time to examine a previously neglected research area considering the ‘algal scum’ that inhabited the land before it was invaded by plants.

Professional Activities

Editorial boards

Palaeontology (2000-2006 & 2012-present)

Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology (2006-present)

Palaontologische Zeitscrift (2005-present)

Palynos (2004-2008)

Societal roles

International Federation of Palynological Sciences (President 2012-present, Secretary-Treasurer 2008-2012, Newsletter Editor 2004-2008, Councillor 2000-2004)

Commission Internationale de Microflora du Paleozoic (Secretary-Treasurer of the CIMP/Saudi Aramco joint project)

Palaeontological Association (Council Member 2000-2008, Vice President 2007-2008, Editor trustee 2014-present)

Research council acitivities

NERC Peer Review College (2007-2011)

Selected Invited Lectures

International Palynological Congress (Tokyo, Japan 2012)

International Botanical Congress (Melbourne, Australia 2011)

25th New Phytologist Symposium (Bristol, UK 2010)

International Palaeontological Congress (London, UK 2010)

Kyoto University Global COE Program (Kyoto, Japan 2009)

Current Research Students

Alex Askew

Alexander Askew (2014-)
Terrestrial and marine palynology of the Middle Devonian of Northern Spain in an attempt to locate and characterise the Kacak Event. Funded by ACCE.

Martha Gibson

Past Students

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David Carpenter (2016)
Charcoal, forests and Earth's Palaezoic geochemical oxygen-cycle. Based at the University of Southampton where he is supervised by John Marshall (in addition to David Beerling and Charles Wellman at the University of Sheffield). Funded by NERC.

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Stephanie Wood (2015)
Jurassic-Cretaceous palynology of the Gulf of Mexico. Jointly supervised by Charles Wellman and Iain Prince and Katrin Ruckwied of Shell. Funded by a NERC Open CASE award with Shell.

Image of Sam Slater

Sam Slater (2014)
Jurassic spores form the UK and Argentina. Funded by a NERC CASE Award with Shell Oil.

Wallace Simon

Dr Simon Wallace (PhD 2013)
Evo-Devo studies of spore wall development in the extant moss Physcomitrella. Funded by a NERC award.
Currently a PostDoc at the University of Tennessee, USA.

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Dr Faisal Abuhmida (PhD 2013)
Ordovician-Silurian palynology of Libya. Funded by the Libyan Petroleum Institute.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for the Lybian Petroleum Institute.

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Dr Janine Pendleton (PhD 2012)
Carboniferous plants and spores from the Bristol Coalfield. Funded by a NERC CASE Award with National Museum Wales, Cardiff.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for PetroStrat, UK.


Dr Brian Pedder (PhD 2012)
Cambrian acritarchs from North America. Funded by a NERC Open CASE Award with the Natural History Museum, London.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for Robertson, UK.

Mkuu Doreen

Doreen Mkuu (MPhil 2012)
Tertiary palynology of Tanzania. Funded by the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation.

image of Mutusam

Dr Mutusam Al-Ghammari (PhD 2010)
Ordovician-Silurian acritarchs, chitinozoans and spore assemblages from Oman. Funded by Petroleum Development Oman.


Dr Khaled Gaddah (PhD 2009)
Cretaceous palynology of the Nubian Sandstone of Libya. Funded by the Libyan Education Ministry.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for Waha Oil, Lybia.

image of Issam

Dr Issam Al-Barram (PhD 2009)
Carboniferous-Permian spore assemlages from Oman. Funded by Petroleum Development Oman.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for PDO in Oman.

Dr Wesley Fraser (PhD 2008)
Development of a novel proxy for measuring past UV-B radiation.
Currently working as a Lecturer in Physical Geography at Oxford Brookes University.

Mr Abdullah Al-Ghazi (MPhil 2005)
Devonian spore assemblages of Saudi Arabia. Funded by Saudi Aramco.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia.

Dr Waleed Abusham (PhD 2001)
Carboniferous spore assemblages from Scotland. Self Funded.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist in Sudan.

Dr Craig Harvey (PhD 2001)
Devonian spore assemblages from Venezuela. Funded by a Hussain Farmy University of Sheffield Scholarship.
Currently working as a Principal Exploration Geologist for Qatar Shell Upstream International.


I teach across all levels within APS. He is APS Level 3 tutor. In 2008 he received the Departmental Teacher of Year award.

At Level 1 I am module coordinator for APS121 (Evolution) and APS122 (Biodiversity).

At Level 2 I am module coordinator for APS269 (Palaeobiology). This module aims to instil within biology undergraduates a basic understanding of palaeontological principles—why understanding past life enhances our understanding of the living world.

At Level 3 I am module coordinator for APS341 (Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems). This module explores my personal research specialism and provides an up to date and in depth exploration of how terrestrial ecosystems have evolved through time and the nature of the scientific enquiry that enables us to understand this.

My Level 3 Projects (APS330) generally involve a palaeobiological investigation of fossils (usually plant fossils) that are collected and prepared by the students. These studies may concern analysis of evolutionary trends, palaeoecological investigation or palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. My Level 3 Dissertations (APS331) cover any topical area of palaeobiology (human evolution, dinosaur palaeobiology, mass extinctions etc.).

Level 4 Projects (APS406) cover aspects of palaeobiology that are currently interesting me. They have included investigation of sexual dimorphism in stegosaur dinosaurs, reconstruction of Cretaceous palaeogeography, analysis of Silurian lake palaeoecology, assessing the impact of the end Devonian mass extinction on various organisms etc.

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