Eske Willerslev is Lundbeck Foundation Professor at University of Copenhagen and director for Centre of Excellence in GeoGenetics and the Danish National CryoBank and Sequencing Facility. He also holds the Prince Philip Chair in Evolution and Ecology at University of Cambridge. Willerslev is an evolutionary geneticist recognized for his studies on human evolution and dispersal, microbial long-term survival and evolution, megafaunal extinctions, DNA degradation, and environmental DNA. He is particularly known for sequencing the first ancient human genome, conducting the first large-scale multi-species ancient population genetic study, and establishing the field of environmental DNA, where modern and ancient DNA from organisms such as higher plants and animals are obtained directly from environmental samples such as sediments, ice and water.
Willerslev was born in Denmark in 1971. After spending his youth as explorer and fur trapper in Siberia, he established the first ancient DNA laboratory in Denmark and obtained his DSc at University of Copenhagen in 2004. At the age of 33, Willerslev became Full Professor at University of Copenhagen - the youngest in Denmark at the time. Willerslev has been visiting researcher at the MD Anderson Cancer Research Centre in Austin, Texas and independent Welcome Trust Fellow at Oxford. He is foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences, member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, horary doctor at University of Oslo, member of the Crow Native American tribe and have been Visiting Professor at Oxford University and a Miller Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley.