Detailed information about the course

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Ancient DNA: A Time Machine to Study Evolution


Aug 29 - Sept 1

Lang EN Workshop language is English
Responsable de l'activité

Daniel Wegmann


Prof. Laurent Excoffier, UNIBE
Prof. Daniel Wegmann, UNIFR

  • Prof. Eline Lorenzen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Denmark
  • Dr Benjamin Peter, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany
  • Prof. Joachim Burger, Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany
  • Prof. Daniel Bradley, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Prof. Verena Schünemann, UNIZH, Switzerland
  • Dr. Muriel Gros-Balthazard, IRD, France

While the sequencing of DNA extracted from fossils has been attempted since 1983, several technological revolutions such as rigorous lab practices and the availability of next-generation sequencing now make it possible to obtain high-quality ancient DNA data for many organisms. This opens up an unprecedented opportunity to include data from multiple time points when studying evolutionary processes such as past demographic events or the action of selection. In this workshop we will explore the range of evolutionary questions that will benefit from ancient DNA, and discuss important considerations in designing and executing research projects using ancient DNA, as well as best practices in analyzing ancient DNA data. While the ancient DNA field had arguably its largest impact on the study of human evolution, we want to focus on its broader implications: how can ancient DNA help to disentangle the effect of selection and demography? How should modern population genomic analyses be tailored to be applicable to ancient DNA? What are appropriate samples sizes for ancient DNA to make a real contribution? And the ultimate question for participants: would the inclusion of ancient DNA data make a difference in answering my evolutionary research questions? In order to address and discuss these questions, we will bring together renowned international experts working with ancient DNA in various organisms.

Each speaker will be giving

1) a full length talk on his/her latest research

2) a full length talk on his/her view how the ancient DNA field will contribute to our understanding of evolutionary processes

3) chair a breakout session discussing one of the main questions we hope to address during this workshop.

Prior to these discussions, we will also offer a hands-on session focusing on the analysis of ancient DNA data for 1.5 days.

The workshop is aimed at students in evolutionary biology that are using or are planning to use genetic data for their research. All participants will have the opportunity to present their work either in a short talk or a poster, and to discuss questions regarding their work with the invited experts and organizers.


Sunday, August 28th
Arrival day/ hotel check-in (dinner will be served)
Gemmi Lodge 2350
3954 Leukerbad-->Please note that cable cars run until 6pm

Monday, August 29th
Hands-on Session on bioinformatic tools particularly useful for ancient DNA:
- fastsimcoal2 (


Tuesday, August 30th
- Research Talk by invited speakers (30 min each)
- Selected Participant talks (15 min each)
- Poster session for remaining participants

Wednesday, August 31st

- Perspective Talk by invited speakers (30 min each)
- Break-out sessions

Thursday, September 1st

- Synthesis (combined with a small hike if the weather allows it)

Hotel check-out /Departure



Gemmi Pass, Leukerbad




The course is organised in collaboration with the CUSO Doctoral Programme StarOmics

If you encounter any problem with the online registration: please send an email to [email protected]

Workshop venue:

Gemmi Lodge 2350
3954 Leukerbad



  • Free for PhD students of the DPEE. Please note that a deposit of 100 CHF will be asked to PhD students of the DPEE. This deposit will be returned at the end of the workshop.
  • Other CUSO participants (postgraduates, postdocs, etc. from CUSO universities = UNIL, UNIBE, UNINE, UNIFR and UNIGE): 355 CHF
  • External participants, i.e. from non-CUSO universities: 444 CHF (if spaces are available)

The registration fees cover full board from Monday to Thursday (4 nights from Sunday 28th).

If you encounter any problem with the online registration: please send an email with your details (university affiliation and phone number) to ecology-evolution[email protected]

Cancellation policy:

Before de 1st registration deadline (15.06): free
Late cancellation (after 15.06) or 'no-show': 100 CHF



Reimbursements for CUSO EE and StarOmics students:
Train ticket, 2nd class, half-fare from the central train station of your university to the place of the activity.

NEW since 2021: reimbursement of your travel tickets can be claimed online through your MyCUSO account.
See HERE for the procedure.

For any question regarding reimbursements/registration fees please contact the CUSO EE coordinator Catherine Suarez at ecology-evolution(at)cuso(dot)ch


Deadline for registration: June 15 extended to July 3rd !

If you encounter any problem with the online registration: please send an email with your details (university affiliation and phone number) to [email protected]

 - 10 places for CUSO DPEE

Free for participants enrolled in the CUSO doctoral programmes.

Cancellation policy:

Before de 1st registration deadline (15.06): free
Late cancellation (after 15.06) or 'no-show': 100 CHF



Deadline for registration 13.07.2022
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