An exploration of ancient genetics and the history of neolithic tombs as featured in NATURE in June 2020 by Trinity College Dublin geneticist Lara Cassidy (IE)
Lara developed an interest in biology and evolution from a young age through popular science books left lying around the house by her father. She went on to complete an undergraduate degree in Human Genetics at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin and finished with first-class honours.
She was subsequently awarded a postgraduate scholarship by the Irish Research Council to undertake a PhD in Palaeogenomics the Bradley Lab at the same institute. The main focus of this project was the sequencing of ancient human genomes from all periods of the island’s prehistory to study past demography.
The first publication of this work (Cassidy et al. 2016) presented a new demographic scaffold for the island, proposing that at least three ancestrally distinct Irish populations have existed on the island, whose inhabitation corresponds closely to the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age eras. Large scale migrations into the island are implied during the transitionary periods carrying with them ancestry ultimately derived from Anatolia and later the Russian steppe.
Lara completed her PhD and now works on Irish human ancient genomics as a postdoctoral researcher in the Bradley lab.