Rachel Wood is a field-based geologist and palaeontologist, with research interests in the Cambrian Radiation of animals, early biomineralisation, mass extinctions, and the evolution of reefs. Her research has focused on integrating the unique biological, geological, and geochemical characteristics of ancient biotas, which had previously been studied in isolation, to understand the co-evolution of life and Earth.
Rachel established the biological affinity of major, but previously problematic, groups of extinct reef-builders, and revealed the considerable ecological complexity of ancient reef systems. She has explored the role of evolving sea-water chemistry on skeletal animals and the importance of anoxia and dynamic oceanic redox as a mechanism of profound evolutionary change.
Rachel has been Chair of Carbonate Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh since 2012. She was awarded the Johannes Walther Medal of the International Association of Sedimentologists in 2018, the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London in 2020, became a Corresponding Member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2022, and is Honorary Consul to Namibia in Scotland.