Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science 2016: Victoria Arbour

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Toronto and Royal Ontario Museum


Video Name

L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science 2016: Victoria Arbour


NSERC Communications



Release Date

August 1, 2017


Victoria is an evolutionary biologist and an expert on the armoured dinosaurs known as ankylosaurs. These dinosaurs possessed unusual tails that were modified into axe-like weapons, and Victoria’s work has covered the evolutionary origin of ankylosaur tail clubs, the biomechanics of tail club impacts, and what features constrain the evolution of tail weapons. She is the 2016 recipient of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship Supplement.

Victoria Arbour

I’ve always been interested in paleontology since I was very young. A lot of kids go through a dinosaur phase, and I’ve just never really grown out of it. I knew I wanted to do scientific research, and I feel really lucky that I get to do paleontology as my job every day.

One of the things that I think is great about ankylosaurs is they have this really cool spiky appearance. They’re covered in these special bones called osteoderms, which isn’t something that we have in our bodies, so it’s very interesting because they’re very unique and they evolved these very unique structures that we don’t see in other animals in the fossil record.

I think one thing I’d really like people to take away from my research is that we still have a lot of unanswered questions, and paleontology gives us an opportunity to answer some of those questions in a sort of deep time perspective, so taking a look at the evolution of life through all of its eons.

At the time of the dinosaurs in Alberta and North America, it was a time of changing climate and sea levels, rising sea levels, falling sea levels. So understanding how dinosaurs evolved in relation to those changing climates and sea levels might help us understand what might be in store for us as climate changes around us today.

I try to communicate my research as broadly as possible, so I use social media, and I blog. I also serve as a consultant on film, television, and video games as a way to bring scientific research into new audiences.

Science can be really challenging for everybody, and so some of the ways that I approach succeeding in science is to be very collaborative, to work together and support my friends and colleagues, and I’m also just very stubborn, which I think is a very good trait in a scientist.

I hope that my research success will show that it takes all kinds of different people and approaches to succeeding in science, and I hope that it will inspire other people to keep pursuing their own dreams and ambitions.