Grant recipient

Elena Zavala

Characterizing individuals and evolutionary history with sediment DNA
Grant amount: DKK 9,999,999

DNA analyses have transformed the study of our evolutionary past as well as forensic investigations. These application areas, while seemingly disparate, have many similarities. Both use low-quality, degraded DNA to reconstruct past events and are often limited to where skeletal remains were recovered. I wish to develop new methods to use sediment DNA to comprehensively explore human presence at recent and distant timescales. Using sediment DNA from Bronze Age England, I will examine the genetic ancestry and phenotypic traits of people as well as their animal husbandry and domestication practices. I will also investigate how sediment DNA can aid forensic casework by assessing its reliability for the identification of missing individuals. The goals are to study the demographic history of Bronze Age England, aid in forensics investigations, and establish new benchmarks to advance research in both fields.

Elena Zavala
Assistant Professor, University of Copenhagen
The Section of Forensic Genetics, Department of Forensic Medicine