Staff at the Natural History Museum – University of Copenhagen

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Claus Nielsen

Claus Nielsen

Professor emeritus



                                                Claus Nielsen – curriculum vitae


Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, 28 March 1938.

Working address: Zoologisk Museum, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark; phone: (+45) 3532 1066; e-mail:

home page:

Private address: Nivåvænge 225, DK-2990 Nivå, Denmark;  mobile: +45 2398 7764




Mag. scient. (Ph.D., zoology and marine biology), University of Copenhagen, 1964

Dr. phil. (D.Sc.), University of Copenhagen, 1972




Marine Biological Laboratory, Helsingør: lecturer 1965-1983

Zoological Museum, Copenhagen: lecturer (associate professor) 1983-1989, “lecturer with special qualifications” 1989 -2005, professor of evolutionary invertebrate embryology 2005-2008.




Gold medal of the University of Copenhagen for a paper on Danish entoprocts 1963.

The book “Claus Nielsen (1995). Animal Evolution: Interrelationships of the Living Phyla. Oxford Univ. Press” was selected for the list “Outstanding Academic Books 1996” by the journal “Choice” (published by the Association of College and Research Libraries, USA).

The Alexander Kowalevsky Medal (St. Petersburg Society of Naturalists) 2001.

Honorary Member, St. Petersburg Society of Naturalists 2001.

Foreign [Honorary] Member, The Linnean Society of London 2006.

Honorary International Associate of the Editorial Board, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology 2007-2010.

Honorary member: International Society for Invertebrate Morphology 2014

The Linnean Medal for Zoology (The Linnean Society of London) 2015 Linnean Medal

Plenary lecturer, 22nd Internatioinal Congress of Zoology, Okinawa, Japan 2016


Research evaluation etc. 2000-


2000: National Environmental Research Council 

2001: National Science Foundation (Integrative Biology and Neuroscience) x2. The  Leverhulme Trust. C4-professorship at Freie Universität, Berlin.  Junior professorship at Humboldt University, Berlin.

2002: Promotion to full professor at Univ. Oregon. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Genes & Developmental Biology Committee). Lecturer at Institute of Zoology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

2003: National Science Foundation: Tree of Life project. Extension of assistant professorship, Harvard Univ. Candidate for membership of the Australian Academy of Science. C4-professorship at University of Osnabrück, Germany. Associate professorship, Zoological Museum, Copenhagen (chairman). Assistant professorship at the Zoological Museum, Zürich.

2004: Evaluation of Netherlands Research School Biodiversity. Tenure and promotion to associate professor at Harvard University. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Schwerpunktprogram): Deep Metazoan Phylogeny. National Science Foundation: Tree of Life project (Mollusca).

2005: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: review panel for projects under the Schwerpunktprogram  Deep Metazoan Phylogeny. National Science Foundation: Assembling the Protostome Tree of Life. Professorship at Swedish Museum of Natural History

2006: Promotion to Reader at University College London, Promotion to full professor at

Auburn University, USA.  Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Schwerpunktprogram): Evaluation of individual project. Promotion to associate professor at Harvard University. Full professorship at Harvard University

2007: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: review panel for projects under the Schwerpunktprogram Deep Metazoan Phylogeny. Promotion to tenured associate professor at Boston University. Promotion to full professor at Auburn University. Promotion to tenure, University of Alberta. Member of College of Reviewers for the Canada Research Chairs Program. Associate professor at University of Bergen.

2008: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: review of proposal (x2). Nominator for the 2009 Kyoto Prize for Basic Sciences (Inamori Foundation).

2009: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: review panel for projects under the Schwerpunktprogram Deep Metazoan Phylogeny. Applications for Bergen Research Foundation. Application to the Leverhulme Trust, London. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: review of proposal. Professor at the University College London.

2010: National Science Foundation: review of proposal for a project under the AToL program. Promotion to full professor, University of Alberta

2011: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, review of proposal.

2012: European Research Council, review of proposal

2014: Evaluation for full Curator/Professor and Director of Comparative Biology Initiative, American Museum of Natural History, New York

2015: Evaluation for promotion to Reader, Univ. St Andrews, UK


Member of evaluation committee for SYSRESOURCE (London) 2002 and 2003.


Evaluation of the research of the Department of Zoological Systematics, Univ. Lund (Sweden), and of their collections 1998 and 2000, respectively


Official opponent at doctoral/ph.d. dissertations/habilitations at University of Copenhagen,  University of Oslo

2001: University of Copenhagen

2002: University of Amsterdam

2003: University of Copenhagen

2007: Freie Universität, Berlin. University of Bergen

2014: Universität Wien

2016: Stazione Zoologica Anthon Dohrn, Napoli (Open University)


Member of the International Committee for the International Congress of Systematic and Evolutionary Biology 1999-2002


Member of the Award Committee for the Alexander Kowalevsky Medal (St Petersburg Society of Naturalists) 2002-.


Member of the Prize Selection Committee for the “International Prize for Biology” (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) 2004, 2014


Invited lectures 2000-


2000: The 8th International Symposium on Tardigrada, Copenhagen, Denmark: Plenary lecture: “Panarthropods - articulates or ecdysozoans?”

2001: Annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Chicago: Symposium on lesser-known protostome taxa: Evolution, development and ecology: Invited lecture “The phylogenetic position of entoprocts, ectoprocts, phoronids and brachiopods”.

Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden: seminar  “The Articulata-Ecdysozoa controversy”

Seminar series, Museum für Naturkunde, Humboldt University, Berlin: “The Articulata-Ecdysozoa controversy”.

2002: Workshop on Aplacophora, Kristineberg, Sweden: lecture: “Early development of the caudofoveate Chaetoderma”.

Symposium at the occasion of the retirement of Professor Wilfried Westheide, Osnabrück, Germany: Morphology and Molecules, Evolution and Phylogeny in Polychaeta and related taxa: “Polychaete trochophora larvae”

Fifth Larval Biology Meeting, Vigo, Spain: member of the organizing committee and introductory lecture: “The origin of larvae”

4th Larwood Symposium, Copenhagen: Invited lecture: “The phylogenetic position of the Bryozoa - year 2002”

2003: Annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Toronto,  Canada: Aleksander Kowalevsky Symposium. Invited lecture: “Trochophora larvae and  animal phylogeny”.

Department of Biology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA. Invited lecture:  “Trochophora larvae and animal phylogeny”.

Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge. Invited lecture: “Trochophora larvae and animal phylogeny”

Annual meeting of Society of Nematologists, Cornell Univ. Invited lecture: “Morphological synapomorphies of the ‘Ecdysozoa’ ”?

2004: Uppsala University, invited lectures: “Animal phylogeny” and “Trochophora larval, cell-lineage and animal phylogeny”.

XIXth International Congress of Zoology, Beijing: Symposium “Towards a new systematics for bilaterian metazoans”: Invited lecture “Animal evolution: cleavage patterns, cell-lineage and larval ciliary bands” (symposium cancelled).

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Banbury Symposium: “Origins and Evolution of the Nervous System”, invited participation and co-chairman of final discussion.

2006: National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan: 52nd Conference “Reproductive           Strategies”: invited lecture “Life cycles in colonial animals”.

Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft, Göttingen, workshop: “Orthologous genes – homologous structures? ”.

EMBO course “Molecular Approaches to Development and Evolution”, Napoli: lectures on animal diversity and evolution of spiralian nervous systems.

2007: Zoological Institute, University of St. Petersburg, Conference in memory of the 100th anniversary of academician A.V. Ivanov: opening lecture “Ontogeny of the spiralian brain”.

University of Bergen: Invited lecture

2008: Brazilian Society of Zoologists, annual meeting: Opening lecture (cancelled)

50. Phylogenetisches Symposium, Hamburg: Invited lecture  

International Congress of Zoology, Paris: Plenary lecture: “Animal systematics/phylogeny at the beginning of the 21st century”

Phylogenetisches Symposium, Hamburg: Invited lecture:

Symposium on “Nonbilaterian Animal Model Organisms 2008”, Jena, Germany: Introductory lecture (symposium postponed)

2009: International Symposium “From The Origin of Species to Deep Metazoan Phylogeny”,            Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany: Invited participation; lecture “Early metazoan  evolution: morphology and molecules”, member of discussion panel

University of Mainz: invited lecture: “Early metazoan evolution: morphology and molecules”

Willi Hennig Symposium, Stuttgart: Invited lecture: The “new phylogeny” – what is so new about it?

2011: Second International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology, Boston, MA: Keynote   lecture: “How to make a protostome”

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: Deep Metazoan Phylogeny 2011, München: invited participation

2012: First International Symposium on Evolutionary Biology, João Pessoa, Brasil: plenary lecture: “Origin of the Protostomia”  

2013: Unione Zoologica Italiana Spring School, Venice: invited lecture: “Life cycle evolution: continuity and adaptation”

2014: Evolution of the first nervous systems, Whitney Labs, Florida: invited lecture: “Larval nervous systems”

2015: Hebrew University, Jerusalem: invited lecture "Major steps in animal evolution". 


Administration (only major commitments, all positions by election, all at the University of Copenhagen):


Marine Biological Laboratory: director 1970-75

Zoological Museum: director 1992-96

Faculty of Science: member 1971-83; dean 1978-80

Member of the senate 1977-80; chairman of library committee 2 (science and medicine) 1993-1998


Member of the Award Committee for the “Alexander Kowalevsky Medal” (St Petersburg Society of Naturalists) 2002-.


Member of the Prize Selection Committee for the “International Prize for Biology” (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) 2004, 2014


Current editorial work:



Phuket Marine Biological Center Research Bulletin: member of editorial committee from 1984

Bulletin de la Société Zoologique de France: member of scientific committee from 1991

Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society: associate editor from 1996

Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Zoologische Reihe / Zoosystematics and Evolution: member of the editorial committee from 1998

Evolution & Development: member of editorial board from 1998

BMC Evolutionary Biology (electronic): advisor from 2001

Zoomorphology: co-editor from 2003, review editor from 2004

BMC Biology (electronic): member of editorial board from 2003

Frontiers in Zoology (electronic): member of editorial board from 2003

Contributions to Zoology: Consultant editor from 2008


Harper, D.A.T., S.L. Long & C. Nielsen (eds) 2008. Brachiopoda: Fossil and Recent.  Fossils and Strata 54: 1-331.


Zoological Nomenclature:


Member of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature 1988-2006


Museum activities


Curator: 1983-2008 of entoprocts, ectoprocts, phoronids, brachiopods, pterobranchs, enteropneusts; 1988-2008 also of urochordates; and 1996-2008 also of echinoderms.


International teaching:


General introductory lectures to morphology-based cladistics and to each systematic specialist module at the European Advanced Course in Evolutionary Developmental Biology financed by the TMR programme of the European Commission, Roscoff (France) 1999. Co-organizer and the same lectures at the courses in 2000 and 2001.

Guest teacher at the course “Evolution and development of the Metazoans” Friday Harbor Laboratories, WA, USA, 2003.

Teacher at the EMBO courses “Molecular Approaches to Evolution and Development” Napoli, Italy, 2006, Kristineberg, Sweden 2008, 2009; ”Marine Animals in Evolution and Development”, Kristineberg, Sweden, 2010; “Marine animal models in evolution and development”, Kristineberg, Sweden. 2011;  Kristineberg, Sweden 2013

Guest teacher at workshop “Bio-inspired photonic structures” San Sebastián, Spain 2009

Teacher at the ForBio (Forskerskole i Biosystematik) course: Marine Zooplankton diversity,  systematics, and biology, The Lovén Center for Marine Sciences, Tjärnö, Sweden 2013




Danish Natural History Society: member from 1954, president 1979-84

International Bryozoology Association: member from 1971, secretary-treasurer 1974-86, editor of newsletter 1980-85, president 1989-92.

Danish Academy of Natural Sciences: member from 1983, committee member 1985-90, chairman of membership committee 1994-1996, chairman of Ph.D.-prize committee 1999-2000

Systematics Association: member from 1983

Linnean Society of London: Fellow from 1984, Foreign [Honorary] Member from 2006

European Society for Evolutionary Developmental biology (EED): member of council from 2005

International Society for Invertebrate Morphology: Founding president (2008)


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