Michelle Hay

R 322
Gregory Building 
Lilybank Gardens
University of Glasgow
G12 8QQ

R 514
Level 5
MVLS School of Life Science
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
G12 8QQ

Research title: Development of a novel ancient pathogen DNA protocol to aid in identifying and understanding the impact of vector-borne diseases in relation to Viking movements and migrations circa 800 – 1000 AD

Research Summary

Doctoral Research:

Disease in the three Viking Kingdoms

My doctoral research is centred upon identifying vector-borne disease in the three Viking kingdoms of York, Dublin and Novgorod. Through combining my expertise in biological sciences (genomics, disease, epidemiology and medical entomology) and archaeology (Viking period, trade routes, and material culture) I identify appropriate samples to extract and identify pathogens contained within reservior ectoparasite hosts. I am particularly interested in Yersinia pestis variant strains , methods of transmission, and how these affected day-to-day life in Viking settlements. I have designed mathematical models to descibe transmission within each of the Kingdoms and hope that the research will provide useful insights into disease during this period. I give thanks to York Archaeological Trust, The National Museum of Ireland, and The Russian Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests and Expertise:

  • aDNA Protocol Development
  • Yersinia – extraction and identification of Yersinia variant strains from vector sub fossils
  • Historical Plagues & Evolutionary Biology
  • Disease Ecology & the Mechanisms for Transmission and Spread of Plague and other Vector-borne Pathogens including Borrelia and Rickettsia
  • Vector-borne Disease in the Viking World, Viking Migrations, Viking Trade Routes, Viking Society & Livestock Management, Migration Theory, Slave Trade & Silver Economy
  • Molecular Genetics, Molecular Immunology, Molecular Parasitology, Parasite Immunobiology, Developmental Biology, Advanced Neurobiology, Medicinal Microbiology, Biotechnology, Tropical Diseases & Drug Targets, Molecular Pharmacology, Mathematics, Computer Programming


Principal Organizer:

Poster Presentation & talk:

  • Michelle Hay. aDNA analysis for the extraction and identification of vector-borne disease in the Viking age period 800 – 1000AD. Early Medieval Archaeology Student Symposium (EMASS) 2019. The University of Durham & the University of Newcastle

Public Engagement

  • Global Women in STEM: 1MWS Campaign 2020
  • Michelle Hay. Disease in the Viking World Pint of Science 2019. Presentation of Research as part of Sickness in the Environment programme, Planet Earth. Wood Bar.
  • Michelle Hay. ARTBox 9th Exhibition. Selection of Archaeological and Zoological Illustrations. Graham Kerr Building. (MVLS). November 2019


  • Michelle Hay: Identifying Disease in the Viking World. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Auditorium, National Museum of Scotland. Nov 2019.


Graduate Teaching Assistant

  • Archaeology in the Modern World 2019-21 (Archaeology) Level 1
  • Environmental Biology 2019 (MVLS) Level 2
  • Tropical Rainforest Ecology 2019 (MVLS) Level 4 Honours
  • Co-Leader of PGR GTA Forum for College of Arts Students
  • 2A Animal Biology, Evolution and Ecology (MVLS) Level 2
  • Twenty Things that Changed the World 2019-21 (Archaeology) Level 2
  • Animal Diversity 2021 (MVLS) Level 2
  • Academic Writing Skills Programme 2021 (AWSP), Learning Enhancement & Academic Development Service (LEADS)
  • Multidisciplinary, Level 1-4 Honours (UG) & Masters (PG)

GTA Field Trips

  • Archaeology in the Modern World 2019 (Archaeology) Level 1
  • 2A Animal Biology, Evolution and Ecology (MVLS) Level 2


  • Bute Field Trip Level 2 Theory and Practice 2019 (Archaeology non-GTA capacity)

MVLS Fieldwork Supervisor

  • Ecuador.  Tropical Rainforest Ecology 2019 (MVLS) Level 4 Honours

Course Design

  • Sutton Trust Archaeology Summer School 2020/21
  • University Experience Week: Archaeology 2021 
  • Access Archaeology 2020/21 - Contemporary Techniques and Technologies
  • Short Courses:
    • Bioarchaeology: Archaeology & Science 2020
    • The Vikings in Europe and Beyond 2020
  • LEADS Good Lab Practice 2021 (CoSE & MVLS)
  • LEADS Summer Course: Great Scientists 2021 (CoSE & MVLS)
  • LEADS T2G: Scientific Illustration 2021 (CoSE & MVLS) 

Additional Information


  • MLITT Celtic & Viking Archaeology, The University of Glasgow
  • MRES Marine & Freshwater Biology, The University of Glasgow
  • BSc (Hons) Zoology, The University of Dundee


  • Stöð, Stöðrarfjörður, Iceland 2018 Fornleifafræðistofan, The Archaeological Office, Iceland.  
  • Excavation of 2 Viking Longhouses including the largest (45 meter) discovered Longhouse in Iceland.

Additional Qualifications

  • CMI accreditation Level 3 Award: Presenting for Success- Principles in Management & Leadership. University of Glasgow 2019.
  • Associate Fellowship of RET (RET AF), DAT HE. The University of Glasgow 2020
  • Fellow of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (FSAscot) 2020

First Aid

  • Wilderness First Aid
  • High Peak First Aid Training (Urban, Wilderness & Hostile Environments)
  • First Aid at Work
  • High Peak First Aid Training (in Accordance with H&S (First Aid) Regulations 1981

Professional Learned Society

  • Scottish Higher Education Learning Developers (ScotHELD)
  • British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO)
  • Association of Environmental Archaeologists (AEA)
  • The Royal Society of Biology
  • The Genetics Society
  • The British Ecological Society
  • The British Society for Parasitology
  • The Association of Veterinary Teaching Research Work (AVTRW)