Marcela Sandoval Velasco

Marcela Sandoval Velasco


Position: Marie Curie Fellow

ESR7: Tracing the origins of African captives in the slave trade using aDNA
Supervision:  Prof. Tom Gilbert and Dr. Hannes Schroeder
Host Institution:  Centre for GeoGenetics, University of Copenhagen

About me:

I am scientist with a background in genomic sciences. Before joining EUROTAST I worked in the field of neurosciences, trying to understand the molecular and genomic mechanisms underlying brain plasticity during blindness. I have always been fascinated by knowing, understanding, and using the information encoded in one of life’s most essential components – DNA. What I find most intriguing is the ability to access whole genome sequences from various organisms including humans, that the development of new technologies has given us. This offers an unprecedented insight into the complex biological network responsible for evolutionary processes, health, diseases, nutrition patterns, and even for unveiling ancestry ties – and therefore our histories.

EUROTAST is a wonderful opportunity to participate in a project investigating human population history using genome sequencing. In my PhD project for the network I will be investigating the geographic origins of enslaved African people by conducting aDNA sequencing and analysis of individuals excavated from archaeological sites linked to the history of the slave trade. I hope this analysis will allow us, as scientists, to provide insights into the history of enslaved people and to help develop a deep understanding of how the transatlantic slave trade influenced the biological heritage of the “New World”.