PhD students

PhD students within the research area Population Genetics.

Camilla ChristensenCamilla Christensen

Title of PhD project

Population genomics of archived shark samples


Einar Eg Nielsen, Michael B. Bennett and Jennifer Ovenden

Background of project

Archived specimens held in museums and other natural history collections can provide a population genetic baseline, against which to assess potential negative consequences of recent changes in the environment. Thereby, offering an opportunity to track demographic and evolutionary consequences of climate change and other human-induced pressures. The recent advances in molecular genomics has made it possible to investigate genetic changes in many individuals sampled more than a century ago. However, few retrospective genomic analyses has comprised sharks. 

About the project

This PhD project is part of an international collaborative project, GenoJaws, involving the University of Queensland, Technical University of Denmark and Flinders University. The ambition of the project is to gain knowledge about population genetic parameters of the vulnerable sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) on a spatial and temporal scale. Performing genomic analysis on contemporary and historical samples will allow us to test for changes in abundance, effective population size, distribution and connectivity and ultimately make us capable of evaluating adaptive responses to environmental change and exploitation. 


By tracking changes in genetic composition on a temporal scale, it is possible to find evidence of both distributional shifts and responses to selection. Ultimately, analysis of such records, taken over several years, can help us understand micro evolutionary processes. In addition, retrospective analysis can help making informed decisions for the protection and management of the current populations of sand tiger sharks.


Paulina UrbanPaulina Urban 

Title of PhD project

Analysis of environmental DNA, “eDNA” from marine organisms


Einar Eg Nielsen and Dorte Bekkevold


Environmental DNA (eDNA) describes all DNA molecules found in an environmental sample, e.g. water, soil or air, that originated from organisms present in that environment. Consequently, analysis of eDNA can be used for monitoring of species or species assemblages. This would likely save time, costs, and workload for such procedures. So far, eDNA implementations for large scale monitoring projects conducted by management institutions, such as fisheries institutes, are limited. This includes both single species monitoring, of e.g. invasive species, and monitoring of species assemblages, e.g. for bycatch estimations. One of the reasons for this might be the need for quantitative estimates for such applications. In order to use eDNA for quantitative estimates, eDNA behavior needs to be better understood, and the molecular methods applied need to be calibrated and validated.


My PhD project aims at facilitating practical implementations of eDNA based methods for monitoring of single species and species assemblages in management and industry. To archive this, on the one hand I will develop methods for eDNA-based quantitative assessment of species assemblages that could be used for by-catch estimations in fisheries. On the other, I will assess and advance methods for monitoring single species, e.g. invasive species that would enable fast monitoring of their spread in ecosystems.


Results gained from this PhD project will improve the understanding of eDNA ecology and behavior, and improve the molecular methods applied on eDNA for different monitoring goals. If successful, the methods developed throughout the PhD will come at hand to applied areas such as management, and industry, which need frequent species monitoring.

Previous PhD students (since 2020)

Homère J. Alves Monteiro

Applied population genomics in the native European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis)
Go to DTU Orbit to download thesis

Alice Manuzzi

Genomic analysis of DNA from archived shark jaws
Go to DTU Orbit to download thesis