Maru Bernal on a boat at sea.
Maru Bernal wins the Swedish Society for Marine Sciences' award for best master's thesis in 2023. Among other things, she has investigated the genetic diversity in eelgrass meadows in the Koster archipelago in northern Bohuslän.
Photo: Stefanie Ries

Marine students awarded for master's theses on eelgrass and melting glaciers


Two master's theses from the Department of Marine Sciences receive the Swedish Society for Marine Sciences' Dyrssen Award 2023. Maru Bernal receives first prize for his work on genetic diversity in eelgrass meadows. Second prize is awarded to Wilma Ljungberg, who investigated how carbon released from melting glaciers affects the ocean.

Congrats on the first prize Maru! How does it feel?

"I feel honoured and grateful to the Swedish Society for Marine Sciences, for recognizing my work and the effort that we as Master’s students put into our projects. I also feel very lucky and thankful to have been surrounded by incredibly supportive people that helped me during the process, it wouldn’t have been possible without them."

What is your master's thesis about?

"We looked at genetic diversity in eelgrass, Zostera marina, meadows on two scales: A local assessment in ten eelgrass meadows in the Kosterhavet archipelago where we wanted to know if these meadows were genetically differentiated from each other, and a large-scale analysis where we looked at which environmental factors best explain genotypic richness along the whole distributional range of eelgrass."

"The results indicate that genotypic richness in eelgrass meadows seems to be overall high, which means that there is sexual reproduction and successful recruitment. This is good news if we think about the potential to colonize new sites and adapt to changing environments."

What do you do now?

For now I am enjoying Mexico and my family, while I wait for the next adventure with eelgrass and seagrasses in general. 

What will you do with the prize money?

"I will use the prize to pay part of the loan that made it possible for me to complete my masters studies in Sweden." 

Interview: Susanne Liljenström

A woman sitting on the shore by a lake.
In her master's thesis, Wilma Ljungberg investigated how the chemical composition of meltwater from glaciers changes on its way to the sea. Here she measures the carbon dioxide flow between water and atmosphere in the Vatnajökull glacier lake in Iceland.
Photo: Linnea Henriksson

Dyrssen Awardees 2020

María Eugenia (Maru) Bernal Gómez, Göteborgs universitet (1st prize) for the thesis "Linking sexual reproduction with genetic diversity and connectivity in the seagrass Zostera marina (L.)".
Supervisor: Marlene Jahnke

Wilma Ljungberg, Göteborgs universitet (2nd prize) for the thesis "CO2 uptake and carbonate biogeochemistry along a tidal glacier-lagoon-ocean continuum".
Supervisor: Isaac Santos

The price ceremony takes place at the Marine Research Days in Umeå 21-23 November in Umeå.

THE DYRSSEN AWARD was initiated by the Swedish Society for Marine Sciences SHF in honor of David Dyrssen (1922 - 2011), emeritus professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Gothenburg. The prize sum is SEK 10,000 for first prize and SEK 5,000 for second prize. A total of 18 nominated theses were reviewed this year.