Sophie Sanchez, Group leader, Senior lecturer/Associate professor

I defended my PhD thesis in 2008 at the Natural History Museum in Paris (France), using traditional sectioning bone histology as a tool to investigate the palaeobiology of 300 million-year-old temnospondyls and seymouriamorphs. In 2009-2012, I did two postdocs at Uppsala University and at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (France) where I developed three-dimensional bone histology in collaboration with P. Tafforeau and P. Ahlberg. I was then employed as a researcher at Uppsala University until I obtained a tenure track position from SciLife Lab in 2014. I was awarded funding from the Swedish Research Council and the Wenner-Gren Foundations to start developing my research group. I was granted a permanent position as a senior lecturer at Uppsala University in 2018. I am keen on developing and learning new methods to investigate the emergence of tetrapod skeletal features. I have set up a 3D histology lab with four 3D workstations (with large RAM capacity) to segment synchrotron data, perform biomechanical analyses and cellular 3D measurements. I was nominated as a board member for the Center for Photon Science at Uppsala University

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Sifra Bijl, PhD student (Swedish Research Council, Sweden)

I started my education at the VU University Amsterdam, doing a bachelor in Earth Sciences (2011-2015), where I was able to do my final thesis on the bone histology of an Allosaurus. After this I started my master in Palaeobiology at Uppsala University (2016-2019). Here I worked in the Sanchez lab on several projects using synchrotron scans, first as a Master student on the vascularisation of mammalian humeral epiphyses, and later as a project assistant (2018-2019) I branched out into another project studying the microanatomy of secondary ossification centres in birds and mammals. At the end of my Master, these experiences led me to complete my thesis on the virtual bone histology of a T. rex. I started my PhD in the Sanchez lab in April 2021, during which I am focussing on the water-to-land transition in early tetrapods. My aim is to shed some light on the internal structures of these tetrapod’s fossilized limb bones to reconstruct how these animals lived and died. I am investigating, among other things, how adapted to life on land they were. Using technologies such as synchrotron microtomography and 3D modelling, I currently do non-destructive research on bone evolution.

Jake Leyhr, co-supervised PhD student (Uppsala University, Sweden)

I received my Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences (2016) from the University of Exeter in the UK, before coming to Sweden for a Master in Biology (Evolutionary Biology, 2018). Much of my focus was in molecular biology and genomics, but for my Master’s thesis I began research in evolutionary developmental biology, using zebrafish as a model for skeletal development in jawed vertebrates. The main subject of my PhD research is a continuation of the skeletal evo-devo work I began in my Master’s thesis: how do particular key transcription factors influence the development of cartilage, especially craniofacial, fin, and joint cartilage, and how is the expression of transcription factors regulated? I also use synchrotron microtomography to study the effects of gene mutations on zebrafish cartilage and other soft tissues, and survey the 3D histology of cartilage from a range of vertebrate species, both extant and extinct, in order to quantitatively describe cartilage development and evolution.

Antoine Logghe, co-supervised PhD student (Sorbonne University, France)

Roberta Vakruchev, Master student (Erasmus, Program PANGEA)
Investigating the diversity of humeral epiphyses in mammals

Fredrik Söderblom, Master student (Uppsala University, Sweden)
Life-history and bone histology of the Carboniferous tetrapod Pederpes

Former lab members

Postdoctoral researchers:

François Clarac
Researcher (2020, Swedish Research Council, Sweden)
Early-tetrapod breathing
Postdoctoral researcher (2018-2020, Swedish Research Council, Sweden)
First steps onto land: effect of gravity on 3D bone microanatomy
Currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum in Paris, France

Dennis Voeten
Postdoctoral researcher (2019-2020, Wenner Gren Foundations, Sweden)
Giant dinosaurs into light birds: three-dimensional bone investigations
Postdoctoral researcher (2018-2019, Wenner Gren Foundations, Sweden)
Dinosaurian origins of bird flight – 3D insights into the bone of the stem-bird Archaeopteryx
Currently emplyoed as an associate curator at the Natural History Museum of Fryslân, Netherlands

Maitena Dumont
Postdoctoral researcher (2015-2016, Wenner Gren Foundations, Sweden)
Walking with giants: what are the bone adaptations to a heavily-loaded terrestrial locomotion
Currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Donald Davesne
Close postdoc collaborator from Benson’s group (2016-2019, Leverhulme Trust, UK)
Timing the origin of genome doubling in fossil teleosts
Currently employed as a von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the Museum of Natural History of Berlin, Germany

PhD students:

Jordi Estefa (2015-2020, Uppsala University, Sweden)
Thesis: Long bone growth and evolution revealed by three-dimensional imaging

Dennis Voeten (2014-2018, Palacký University, Czech Republic)
Thesis: Innovative adaptations of Mesozoic diapsids revealed through synchrotron microtomography
Completed a postdoc at Uppsala University, Sweden

Master students:

Mary Branigan (2023, Erasmus, Program PANGEA)
Thesis: Ossification patterns in the pectoral mesomeres of the stem lungfish Glyptolepis groenlandica and implications for the evolution of the lungfish appendicular skeleton
Currently employed as a PhD student at Uppsala University, Sweden

Elsa Leflaëc (2023, Erasmus, Program PANGEA)
Thesis: Diversity of the cartilage of vertebrates. A study of the Meckel’s cartilage of chondrichthyans and osteichthyans.

Ramon Fritzen (2022, Erasmus, Program PANGEA)
Thesis: An embolomerid humerus inside out: life history traits of a stem amniote revealed by synchrotron microtomography
Will start PhD studies at Flinders University, Australia in January 2024

Belle van Rijssen (2022, Lille University, France)
Thesis: A histological study of the humerus of a diadectid

Alexis Cornille (2020, Joint Master Uppsala University, Sweden and Lille University, France)
Thesis: The tetrapodomorph pectoral fin’s biomechanical adaptations to near shore environments: Finite Element Analysis on the humerus of Eusthenopteron foordi
Currently employed as a PhD student at the Museum of Natural History of Berlin, Germany

Jasper Ponstein (2017, Uppsala University)
Thesis: Evolution of the vascular pattern in mammals: using synchrotron imaging to visualise hidden 3D structures
Currently employed as a PhD student at the Museum of Natural History of Berlin, Germany

Viktoriia Kamska (2016, Erasmus, Program MEME)
Humerus 3D bone histology of the lobe-finned fish Hyneria sheds light on the long-bone evolution and growth
Did PhD studies at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Munich, Germany
Currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher at City University of Hong Kong

Jordi Estefa (2014, Uppsala University)
Thesis: What can 3D limb-bone reconstructions tell us about the posture of the first terrestrial vertebrates?
Completed PhD studies at Uppsala University, Sweden

Last modified: 2023-09-14