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DNA researcher Eske Willerslev, who changed understanding
of human origins, to speak at SMU

Presented by the SMU 'Darwin's Evolving Legacy' series

April 27, 2012

Eske WillerslevEske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, a groundbreaking researcher in the study of ancient DNA, will speak at SMU on May 2, as part of the SMU "Darwin's Evolving Legacy" series.

The lecture — titled "Hunting Our Molecular Past With Ancient DNA" — will be at 5 p.m. in Room 153 of Heroy Hall. It is free and open to the public.

Willerslev is director of Centre of Excellence in GeoGenetics at the National History Museum at the University of Copenhagen and an internationally-recognized researcher in the field of ancient DNA. He and his team have recovered DNA from bones and other remains of Ice Age people and animals, and used the DNA to open a new window into our understanding human evolution, migration and population history; the extinction of woolly mammoth and other now-extinct Ice Age species; and in reconstructing ancient environments and ecosystems.

SMU launched the "Darwin's Evolving Legacy" series in 2009, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species and the 200th birthday of the extraordinary man who wrote this famous book by offering a series of lectures, exhibits and presentations. Videos of most of the lectures are available online.

He has 18 publications in Science and Nature, and 128 publications in other high profile peer review journals such as The Lancet; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS); Current Biology; American Journal of Human Genetics; Systematic Biology; Molecular Biology and Evolution; TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution; TRENDS in Microbiology; PloS Biology; Genetics; Genome Research; Geology; Nucleic Acid Research; and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.

Willerslev is an invited member of the International Mars Cyroscout drilling team (NASA), and scientific organizer for the 3rd and 4th Mars Polar Conferences (NASA). He has been a keynote or invited speaker at 73 international conferences and meetings, has successfully applied for and been awarded 50 large research grants and academic prizes in Denmark, UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and the EU.

Video Sample:

Willerslev was a senior author of a paper published in Science in September 2011 that re-interprets the history of the human species. Following is from an announcement on the paper.