Using ancient DNA to document past sea ice change

  • December 3, 2018
Using ancient DNA to document past sea ice change

Stijn De Schepper wins 2.6m Euro grant to document past climate change.

It is great to see that our novel approach that has the potential to significantly advance the field of paleo-sea ice research is being recognised as ground-breaking.

Stijn De Schipper

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been awarded a 2.6m Euro grant to develop ancient DNA as a new tool for documenting past sea ice change.

Stijn De Schepper will use the European Research Council Consolidator Grant to establish a cross-disciplinary research group of paleoceanographers and molecular ecologists. 

His project AGENSI – A Genetic View into Past Sea Ice Variability in the Arctic will develop, test and apply ancient DNA as a new tool for documenting past sea ice change to better understand what is driving past Arctic sea ice and climate change.

Stijn, who is researcher at NORCE Climate and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen, Norway, said: "I am truly excited that I will be able to pursue my research idea to use ancient DNA for sea ice reconstructions. It is great to see that this novel approach that has the potential to significantly advance the field of paleo-sea ice research is being recognised as ground-breaking. Receiving this grant gives me the freedom to pursue fundamental paleoclimate research."

Stijn [2002] did his PhD in Geography at the University of Cambridge with the support of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. It focused mainly on Pliocene microfossils from a drill core in the North Atlantic which was collected by the International Ocean Discovery Programme, a large international marine research collaboration. Over the course of his PhD he discovered several species new to science. He also did a pilot study to understand the Pliocene history of the North Atlantic Current and its influence on climate.

While in Bergen he has led a nine million Norwegian kroner [£880,000] international project investigating the history of Arctic sea ice during the warm Pliocene. 

*Picture credit: The ice highway by Ian Mackenzie from Ottawa, Canada c/o Wikimedia Commons.

Stijn De Schepper

Stijn De Schepper

  • Alumni
  • Belgium
  • 2002 PhD Geography
  • Wolfson College

Latest News

Affecting change for the Māori community

Self-determination lies at the centre of Māori culture. “It’s a way of life,” says Chris Tooley. That idea is also at the heart of his PhD studies at Cambridge and his subsequent work in Parliament and in the community. Chris grew up with a strong sense of being part of the Māori community. He has ancestral […]

On the COVID frontline

Three Gates Cambridge scholars who have been on the medical frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic will be speaking about their experiences at a virtual event next weekend. The event, organised by the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association, will be moderated by Elizabeth Dzeng, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the […]

New game tackles Covid conspiracies

A new online game that puts players in the shoes of a purveyor of fake pandemic news is the latest tactic in the UK Government’s efforts to tackle the deluge of coronavirus misinformation that is misleading many and costing lives across the world. Launched to the public today, the Go Viral! game has been developed by the […]

“Democracy does not work on a ‘trust me’ basis”

When Jennifer Gibson started her MPhil at Cambridge in 2001 as part of the inaugural class of Gates Scholars, no-one knew what it meant to be a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Twenty years later, Jennifer is now a human rights lawyer focused on national security issues, something she never could have anticipated, but which she credits in no small part […]