Originally from Spain, I completed my BSc in Biochemistry at Imperial College London with a 1st Class Hons., and spent my third year at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Heidelberg, Germany), where I carried out a year-long project in Drosophila developmental biology. Back at Imperial, my Final Year Project was directed by Prof. Kurt Drickamer, on the molecular structure of the human macrophage protein mincle, and its role during infection by M. tuberculosis.
I started at Cambridge in 2013 as a doctoral training programme (DTP) student funded by the Biotechnology and BioSciences Research Council (BBSRC). During my MRes year I completed several short projects, working with Andrea Manica (Department of Zoology) on a project where I modelled the spread of Lactase Persistence in Europe; and with Andrea Brand (Gurdon Institute), where I studied the role of a long non-coding RNA during the neuroblast exit from quiescence in Drosophila larval development. I then re-joined the Evolutionary Ecology Group in 2014 to start my PhD supervised by Andrea Manica and Anders Eriksson.
I have a strong interest in understanding the spacial history of Anatomically Modern Humans across the globe: the demographic changes that humans have undergone throughout history, their colonisation of Eurasia, and how, in the present day, some of the most intricate population distributions follow patterns closely related to historical processes, known large population movements, ethic origins, and language family.
While a consensus has been reached, suggesting an expansion out of Africa 60-70k years ago that contributed the most to the current gene pool of AMHs and led to a quick colonisation of most of the globe, almost every other aspect of the past of our species is under current debate. Most of the questions studied by investigations in the origins of humans mirror broader debates in evolution and ecology, like the dynamics of range expansions and the evolutionary response to changes in climate.
Using numerous modern genomes covering the entire world from different available genomic panels, and using selected ancient genomes that have been sequenced from archeological remains from key parts of the world, I intend to reconstruct various key episodes of the history of our species. In some of the most modern episodes, such as the expansions of Bantu-speaking peoples in Africa, I use linguistics and biological anthropology as a guide to drive our genetic analysis. I addition, I will use current spatially explicit models developed by Eriksson et al. (2012) to accurately model these demographic processes in a geographical and climatic context.
Gallego-Llorente, M., Jones, E.R., Eriksson, A., Siska, V., Arthur, K.W., Arthur, J.W., Curtis, M.C., Stock, J.T., Coltorti, M., Pieruccini, P., Stretton, S., Brock, F., Higham, T., Park, Y., Hofreiter, M., Bradley, D.G., Bhak, J., Pinhasi, R., Manica, A. (2015) Ancient Ethiopian genome reveals extensive Eurasian admixture throughout the African continent. Science 350, 820–822.
Gallego-Llorente, M., Connell, S., Jones, E.R., Merrett, D.C., Jeon, Y., Eriksson, A., Siska, V., Gamba, C., Meiklejohn, C., Beyer, R., Jeon, S., Cho, Y.S., Hofreiter, M., Bhak, J., Manica, A., Pinhasi, R. (2016) The genetics of an early Neolithic pastoralist from the Zagros, Iran. Scientific Reports 6.
Jones, E.R., Gonzalez-Fortes, G., Connell, S., Siska, V., Eriksson, A., Martiniano, R., McLaughlin, R.L., Gallego-Llorente, M., Cassidy, L.M., Gamba, C., Meshveliani, T., Bar-Yosef, O., Müller, W., Belfer-Cohen, A., Matskevich, Z., Jakeli, N., Higham, T.F.G., Currat, M., Lordkipanidze, D., Hofreiter, M., Manica, A., Pinhasi, R., Bradley, D.G. (2015) Upper Palaeolithic genomes reveal deep roots of modern Eurasians. Nature Communications 6, 8912.