Zoë M. Simmons

Role summary

  • Head of Life Collections, encompassing all zoological materials held by the Museum. Specific responsibility for the Arachnid collection covering enquiries, loan, cataloguing, digitisation, hosting visitors for tours, teaching and academic research visits.
  • Runs various training sessions in museum specialisms including the collection, mounting and conservation of insect and arachnid specimens; documentation and collections management. She regularly takes on interns and work placement students interested in natural history and museum studies. 
  • Provides exhibition expertise for both permanent and temporary displays. She has constructed a number of permanent displays for the Museum, including the Alphabet Zoo and the Thematic Insect display.
  • Other activities include: answering conservation queries; integrated pest management advice and pest identification services; science writing and editing

Currently working on a number of research projects focusing on the Octavius Pickard-Cambridge Exotic Araneae collection. She seeks to develop collaborative projects with researchers from around the world.

Featured Projects

Collections Project lead for HOPE for the Future (Heritage, Outreach and Preservation of Entomology) Collections. Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (Delivery Phase).



Zoë studied Environmental Biology at Oxford Brookes University, qualifying with a first-class honours degree in 2004. In 2017 she graduated from Leicester University, where she was awarded a Masters with Distinction in Museum Studies. For her dissertation she was presented the Professor Susan Pearce Prize, which is given to the student who achieves the highest mark in the year for projects relating to museum and gallery objects and collections.

Her work in the Hope Entomological Collections has led to a specialism in historic collections research, particularly with regard to identification of type material. She has an interest in the material culture of natural history collections, especially relating to insects and/or Victorian era collections with which sale and exchange of specimens is linked to patterns of global trade and exploration.

She is co-author of Rare and Wonderful: Treasures of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and a science advisor on a number of popular children’s books.