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Patrícia Pečnerová

As a Branco Weiss Fellow, Dr. Patrícia Pečnerová will track the elephant ivory trade in Europe and its history throughout the ages. Using ancient DNA and modern genomic tools, Dr. Pečnerová will analyze DNA from ivory that has been imported into Europe during the last five thousand years. The project crosses the boundaries between natural and social sciences, and aims to reveal more about the humans and the elephants of the ivory trade.



Academic Career

  • Post-doc, Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark, 2023
  • Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Fellow, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2021-2023
  • Post-doc, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2019-2021
  • Post-doc, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, 2018-2019
  • PhD in Systematic Zoology and Evolution, Stockholm University, Sweden, 2013-2018
  • MSc in Ecological and Evolutionary Biology, Masaryk University, Czech Republic, 2011-2013
  • BSc in Systematic Biology and Ecology, Masaryk University, Czech Republic, 2008-2011

Major Awards

  • National Geographic Society Explorer 2022
  • L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Denmark Award 2021
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship, 2020


Branco Weiss Fellow Since

Research Category
Evolutionary Biology, Conservation Genetics, Palaeogenetics

Research Location
Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


While illegal killing of elephants for ivory is still a major threat to the survival of elephants today, the ivory trade has a long history spanning millennia. For thousands of years, ivory has been flowing into Europe through the Mediterranean trade routes, as it was, and still is, considered a valuable commodity. Yet, very little is known about the elephants and humans involved in the trade and the chapter of history that so closely binds our species.

Details of Research

Dr. Pečnerová will use the long history of ivory imports into Europe, and she will apply state-of-the-art genomic tools to modern confiscated ivory and historical ivory collections to reconstruct a map of elephant ivory trade routes in Europe and its changes through time. The DNA extracted from tusks and ivory objects can reveal where was the ivory sourced from, if the exchange networks changed with changing cultures, and how did the ivory trade affect the genetic diversity of African elephants. Using her expertise in ancient DNA research and elephant genomics, Dr. Pečnerová will collaborate with an interdisciplinary team of international researchers to study the human and elephant history in parallel, and from a myriad of angles.