‘What I enjoy most is saving endangered animal species’
November 2015 – Mirte completed her Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2006 followed in 2009 by her Master’s in Ecology at VU Amsterdam. She then took on a doctoral position at the University of Wageningen, conducting research into pig genetics. She discovered that the genome of Western agricultural pigs contains elements of both European wild boar and Asian pigs. She was awarded her PhD cum laude in 2015. Since then, Mirthe has worked at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO).
Mirthe is currently conducting genetic research on great tits. “We have DNA samples from 2,500 of these birds and know from 650,000 locations on the great tit genome that there is a lot of variety. I’m analysing the 650,000 DNA markers for differences in order to identify inbreeding and natural selection within this great tit population. I start by working out what questions I would like to answer. For example: are great tits from different parts of Europe genetically different or is there a single large population? I then program a script and when I let it loose on the data, the excitement mounts while we wait for the results.”
She has fond memories of her time as a student at VU Amsterdam: “For me, it was actually two worlds in one. On the one hand, there was the fieldwork in Millingen, where we observed fascinating wasp beetles as they emerged to begin life as adults. It was also the time when our lives as biologists really started. My friends and I still reminisce about our fantastic fieldwork adventures. The rugged conditions in the pouring rain, Henk Schat jumping into puddles with his best shoes on and not caring about it and playing cards in the evenings by candlelight. The other world involved being an active member of the Gyrninus student association. I spent many a happy evening in de Stelling, the bar in the Maths & Science building.”
Read the interview with Mirte Bosse (in Dutch)