Frido Welker, PI, Associate Professor

My interest is to understand human evolution via the development and application of ancient biomolecular methods. My research utilises mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics to extract and analyse protein sequences from ancient hominin and fauna samples spanning several continents. I have a particular interest in studying the evolutionary relationships between extinct hominins via ancient protein analysis and exploring hominin behaviour through studying associated fauna remains and zooarchaeological datasets.

Before moving to Copenhagen I completed a BA in archaeology at Leiden University (the Netherlands) and a MSc in archaeological science at the University of York (UK). Subsequently, I conducted my PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany).


Zandra Fagernäs, MSCA Postdoctoral fellow

I am an MSCA Postdoctoral Fellow, and my project, PROMISE, focuses on improving extraction protocols for Pleistocene skeletal proteomes, enhancing our understanding of protein preservation, and studying Pleistocene hominins in the Levant. I am generally interested in improving our methods for studying ancient biomolecules, so that we can achieve robust and reliable results for our exciting research topics, while minimising destructive analyses of irreplaceable archaeological materials.
Prior to starting in the Welker Group, I completed my BSc (biology and geosciences) and MSc (ecology) degrees at Umeå University in Sweden, and my PhD at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History/Friedrich Schiller University (Jena, Germany). My doctoral research focused on method development for ancient biomolecule research in archaeological dental calculus. I also love doing different forms of sci-comm, such as illustrations and talks.


Louise Le Meillour, MSCA Postdoctoral fellow

I am a Fyssen Foundation postdoctoral fellow. My interests lie in understanding past human adaptations to harsh environments, with a focus on subsistence strategies in arid environments (Africa and the Levant). In particular, I use a combination of protein mass spectrometry and zooarchaeology to study dietary shifts in response to climatic events, particularly regarding the use of domesticated bovids. Subsequent to the Fyssen fellowship, I will continue this research with a Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellowship.

Prior to my arrival in Denmark, I did my BSc (Biology and History of Art-Archaeology) at Sorbonne Université and a MSc in Prehistory and Quaternary at the French National Natural History Museum in Paris. My doctoral research, conducted between several different labs of the Museum in Paris, focused on the application of palaeoproteomics to remains of domesticated caprines (sheep and goat) in Eastern and Southern African contexts from the Late Stone Age to the Iron Age, in order to better understand how these domesticates spread across the continent.


Ragnheiður Diljá Ásmundsdóttir, PhD Fellow

I am a PhD Fellow in the Welker group and am part of the PROSPER project where my main focus is on proteomic compositional variation within the human skeletal proteome. I have an interest in studying hominin evolution using different methods. Previously I have worked with modern DNA to study ancient human migration and admixture events. Now, working in palaeoproteomics I am gaining insights into hominin skeletal biology and through that insight into hominin evolution deeper in time.

Before starting my PhD I completed my masters degree in evolutionary biology from Uppsala University, Sweden, with a focus on population genomics, and a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Iceland. Before starting my masters degree I received training and worked in histopathology at the pathology department of The National University Hospital of Iceland.


Jakob Hansen, PhD Fellow

I am a PhD student within the Welker Group and a part of the ChemArch project, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie innovative training network (ITN). My PhD position is a double degree between the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) and the University of Copenhagen. My work mainly revolves around the proteomic taxonomic identification of bone artefacts and ecofacts from the Late Upper Palaeolithic to the Early Neolithic geographically located within the north-eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula. This is to gain deeper insight into the raw material selection strategies for bone tool manufacture. I am generally interested in how past societies utilised hard tissues and therefore which behavioural mechanisms, dynamics, and meaning may lay behind the processes of the manufacture and usage of bone objects.

I have a BA in Prehistoric Archaeology and Museological Studies and MA in Prehistoric Archaeology from Aarhus University (Denmark) where I worked with the palaeoproteomic method Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) on Scandinavian Early Medieval material. Before my PhD position I worked as a field archaeologist at Vejlemuseerne.


Dorothea Mylopotamitaki, external PhD student

I am an external PhD candidate at the Collège de France (Paris, France). As part of PUSHH-ETN MSCA my project is focused on palaeoproteomics studies of human history. I am interested in method development and optimization for highly degraded proteins recovered from archaeological bones analysed with LC-MS/MS techniques, particularly during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic period in western Eurasia.

I have received both my BSc and MSc degrees in Chemistry at the University of Crete (Heraklion, Greece), focused on ancient DNA studies. Prior to my doctoral position, I worked as a research assistant on the “The Fall of 1200 BC” ERC project at the University of Copenhagen.


Virginie Sinet-Mathiot, external PhD student

I am an external PhD student in the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany). I use palaeoproteomics to analyze archaeological bone assemblages within the context of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transitional period in western Eurasia. My research focuses on the integration of Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) with the analyses of bone surface modifications to show the potential of the inclusion of palaeoproteomics within the current framework of zooarchaeological analysis at Palaeolithic sites. I’m interested in the entire morphologically-unidentifiable component of Pleistocene bone assemblages in order to (re)assess past human behaviour in relation to faunal carcass processing, prey selection and site use.

I received training as a biologist and paleoanthropologist during my undergraduate and master studies at the University of Bordeaux (France). I have extensive experience in fieldwork, particularly laboratory operation and site collection management. These experiences have developed my interest in human diet and subsistence patterns.


Huan Xia, visiting PhD student

I am a PhD student at the College of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Lanzhou University. My interest is to reconstruct the history of Palaeolithic hominin activities on the Tibetan Plateau and reveal their subsistence strategies for adaptation to the high-altitude environment. My PhD project, under the supervision of Fahu Chen, Donju Zhang and Frido Welker, focuses on Denisovans behaviour and ecology at Baishiya Karst Cave in the northeast Tibetan Plateau from the late Middle Pleistocene to Late Pleistocene using ancient protein analysis. 

Since November 2021, I have been studying at the University of Copenhagen as a visiting Phd student. Before this, I received the BSc degree at the same college of Lanzhou University in 2016, and studied at the Max Planck Institute (Leipzig) from the end of 2020 for one year.


Jorsua Herrera, Research Assistant

I am a Research Assistant within the Welker’s Group. As a Molecular Biologist in the VILLUM Fonden Experiment project, I am involved in investigating the molecular consequences of starvation and hibernation in humans, archaic hominins, and fauna during the Pleistocene. I am generally interested in ancient biomolecules and learning how we can use them to study the evolutionary history of living organisms on Earth.

I completed my BSc (Biology) at the Universidad de La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain) and my MSc degree in Science with a program in Geobiology, Geology and Geochemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA). I am in the process of completing a second MSc degree in Bioinformatics and Biostatistics at the Universidad Católica de Murcia (Spain).


Gaudry Troché, Research Assistant

State of the art analysis tools for our palaeoproteomics studies are at the heart for protein research. As an analytical chemist in the PROSPER project, my role is to collaborate between both fields for optimal protein measurement of ancient samples. I am also involved in sample preparation and reporting. My personal interest is oriented toward analytical method development including fractionation & multidimensional separation. I graduated as a MSc in analytical chemistry at the University of Copenhagen and was previously employed as research assistant at University of Copenhagen and analytical chemist at Octarine-bio.

Pauline Poujois, MSc intern

I am a master student at the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse, France, where I am studying Biological Engineering. As part of my master’s degree, I am doing an internship in the Welker Group, in the context of Louise Le Meillour’s Fyssen project. The goal of this internship is to analyse the protein content of bovid remains from arid environments to determine their species identity. I am focusing on Jordanian, Sudanese and Namibian sites, dating from the Natufian in Jordan (12400 BCE) to 1300 BCE in Namibia. Eventually, the identification of bovids can help understanding the subsistence strategies of the populations living in these areas better, particularly around the time of the establishment of husbandry.

Tjorven, Postdog