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

Provost wins top Royal Society award

Gates Cambridge Provost Professor Barry Everitt has been selected for the Royal Society’s premier award in the biological sciences. Professor Barry Everitt FMedSci FRS has been awarded the Croonian Medal and Lecture 2021 for his research on the application of his findings on brain mechanisms of motivation to important societal issues, such as drug addiction. […]

Addressing energy injustice in the Global South

A new framework which uses artificial intelligence to analyse textual data on energy use and behaviour could help policymakers develop a deeper understanding of energy injustices in the Global South. The study, Grounded reality meets machine learning: A deep-narrative analysis framework for energy policy research, was led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath [2018] and is published in the journal Energy Research […]

Scholar wins top German prize for PhD thesis

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has won a prestigious international award for her PhD dissertation on the relationship between offshore finance and state power. Dr Andrea Binder was named winner of the Körber Foundation’s German Dissertation Award 2020 for social sciences. The prize, one of the most highly endowed for young researchers from Germany, honours excellent PhD research which […]

Developing a farm for impact model

Shadrack Frimpong has not yet started his PhD, but already his and his team’s work has earned him awards from the Queen, the Clinton Foundation and the Muhammad Ali Foundation. The awards are for their outstanding work in creating a potential new development model for rural crop-growing communities starting from Shadrack’s own village in Ghana. […]