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

$75,000 grant for technology to assist people with disabilities

A Gates Cambridge Scholar and his colleague have been awarded a prestigious grant from Facebook Reality Labs to Dr Pradipta Biswas and Professor Yogesh Simmhan have been awarded a $75,000 grant from Facebook Reality Labs for their proposal on ‘privacy-respecting augmented reality[AR]/virtual reality[VR] to enable differently abled people in multi-cultural societies. The grant was the […]

Gut bacteria links to immune responses in the brain

Bugs in the gut may hold the key to protective immune measures in the brain which could have implications for diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, according to a new study led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Zachary Fitzpatrick. A paper based on his PhD research has recently been published in Nature and it highlights […]

Exploring the social barriers to take-up of green technology

How can rural communities be encouraged to take up green energy solutions? A new study co-authored by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath investigates the social barriers to uptake of household appliances fuelled by green energy. Based on research on more than 14.5K households in rural communities in Rwanda, the study, published in Renewable Energy, found […]

A new technique to decode the way the nervous system works

How do the billions of neurons in the human brain work together to give rise to thought or certain types of behaviour? A new study led by Gates Cambridge Alumnus Eviatar Yemini [2007] outlines a colouring technique, known as NeuroPAL (a Neuronal Polychromatic Atlas of Landmarks), which makes it possible – at least in experiments […]