Evolutionary change, adaptive evolution and genome erosion in the woolly mammoth
Micro-evolution in declining populations can be defined as the result of the interaction between natural selection and genetic drift, where the latter increases in importance the smaller a population becomes. During my PhD, I will examine this interaction by using the woolly mammoth as a model species for genetic processes in declining populations. I will generate complete genome sequences from up to 100 woolly mammoth specimens spanning the last 25,000 years of the species’ existence. In addition, I will analyze sedimentary DNA from a series of permafrost sediments collected from Wrangel Island, where the last woolly mammoth population survived, to reconstruct the environmental context to which the mammoth population was exposed. Altogether, this project will enhance our understanding of (i) adaptive changes in response to climate change and island isolation and (ii) the genome erosion leading up to the extinction of the woolly mammoth.
May 2017 – present: PhD in Systematics and Evolutionary Biology, Swedish Museum of Natural History
2017 – 2018: R&D scientist Data Management, Agilent Technologies, Belgium
2014 – 2016: Master’s Degree in Behavior and Evolutionary Biology, University of Antwerp, Belgium
2011 – 2014: Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, University of Antwerp, Belgium