Dr Selina Brace

Dr Selina Brace.
  • Researcher/co-investigator-Wellcome
  • Earth Sciences department
  • Vertebrates and Anthropology Palaeobiology
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road



2013 – present            Researcher, Earth Sciences, The Natural History Museum. 
                                        Project: Human adaptation to changing diet and infectious 
                                        disease loads, from the origins of agriculture to the present.

2010 – 2013                Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Royal Holloway University of London. 
                                       Project: MORDOR: Methods for Optimal Recovery of DNA from 
                                       Osteological Remains.

2006 – 2007                Research/Laboratory Technician. University College London.

2005 – 2005                Honorary Researcher. University College London.

2004 – 2005                Field Research Site Manager. Kenya. Columbia University.


2007 – 2010                Ph.D. Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London. Thesis 
                                       title: Investigating evolutionary processes using ancient and historical 
                                       DNA of rodent species.

2000 – 2004                B.Sc. (Hons) Zoology (2:1). Department of Biology, University College 

Professional Roles


2014           NERC Fellowship award to cover EOS training, Keystone Skills in Bioinformatics.

2009           NERC/ARHC ORADS (Oxford Radiocarbon Dating Service). AMS dates.

2009           Helen Shackleton Award. Fieldwork.

2003           Nuffield Science Bursary. Undergraduate research.


Research Overview

I’m a biologist who works with ancient and degraded DNA to investigate species-level and evolutionary processes. I am interested in late Quaternary environmental changes and how these impact on species. Exploring genetic variation and population structure through time. Also island colonization events and the evolutionary processes involved in adaptive radiation.

Current Research

PDR for a Wellcome funded project: Human adaptation to changing diet and infectious disease loads, from the origins of agriculture to the present.

A link between urban living, and an increase in the number of deaths due to transmissible disease and poor diet has often been suggested. This project aims to establish the extent to which humans have evolved to fit the demands of these fundamental changes in living. The team will be examining genetic data from both modern and archaeological individuals, and developing mathematical models to examine how changes in gene frequencies indicate human adaptation.



Brace S, Barnes I, Kitchner AC, Serjeantson D, Turvey ST (2014). Late Holocene range collapse in a former British seabird species. Journal of Biogeography. In press.

Ludtmann MHR, Otto GP, Schilde C, Chen ZH, Allan CY, Brace S, Beesley PW, Kimmel AR, Fisher P, Killick R, Williams RSB (2014). An ancestral non-proteolytic role for presenilin proteins in multicellular development of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. Journal of Cell Science. Jcs 140939.


Martínková N, Barnett R, Cucchi T, Struchen R, Pascal M, Pascal M, Fischer MC, Higham T, Brace S, Ho SYW, Quéré JP, O'Higgins P, Excoffier L, Heckel G, Hoelzel AR, Dobney KM, Searle JB (2013). Divergent evolutionary processes associated with colonization of offshore islands. Molecular Ecoloogy. 22 (20) 5205-5220.


Hansford J, Nuñez-Miño JM, Young RP, Brace S, Brocca JL, Turvey ST (2012). Taxonomy-testing and the ‘Goldilocks Hypothesis’: morphometric analysis of species diversity in living and extinct Hispaniolan hutias. Systematics and Biodiversity. 10 (4) 491-507.

Brace S, Palkopoulou E, Dalén L, Lister A, Miller R, Otte M, Germonpré M, Blockley SPE, Stewart J, Barnes I (2012). Serial local extinctions in a small mammal indicate Late Pleistocene ecosystem instability. PNAS. 109 (50) 20532-20536.

Brace S, Barnes I, Powell A, Pearson R, Woolver LG, Thomas MG, Turvey ST (2012). Population history of the Hispaniolan hutia Plagiodontia aedium (Rodentia: Capromyidae): testing the model of ancient differentiation on a geotectonically complex island. Molecular Ecology. 21 (9) 2239-2253.

Turvey ST, Brace S, Weksler M (2012). A new species of recently extinct rice rat (Megalomys) from Barbados. Mammalian Biology -Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. 77 (6) 404-413.


Field J & Brace S (2004). Pre-social benefits of extended parental care. Nature. 428 (6983) 650­-652.