Prof. Adriana Vella

Prof. Adriana Vella

Prof. Adriana Vella


Associate Professor

Room 209
Biomedical Sciences Building
University of Malta
  +356 2340 2790
Adriana Vella graduated B.Ed. (Hons), Biology Specialisation with first class honours (University of Malta) and furthered her studies in Genetics, Ecology, Evolution and Conservation for her MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK, through scholarships. She gained additional expertise on advances in conservation genetics at the Conservation Studies Centre in Virginia (USA).

Prof. Vella joined the University of Malta in 1995 as full-time academic in Genetics, Biochemistry, Developmental Biology and Conservation Biology and in the setting-up of innovative research tools applied to the assessment, monitoring and management of local terrestrial and marine species. Recently also winning the special UM Research Fund for the life science research, BioCon_Innovate. Her pioneering large-scale long-term studies related to vulnerable species and fisheries research consisting of field surveys was accompanied by the setting-up of the Conservation Biology Research Group wildlife molecular genetic research laboratory.

She authored several scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and books;
Participated in various EU projects on biodiversity and has also taken part in international marine research expeditions; Chaired the scientific committee of the international conference on marine mammals held in Malta in 2015; Invited to contribute in numerous international scientific workshops, conferences; Act as reviewer and; Invited to join scientific journals' editorial boards.

She participated in the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategies (EPBRS) where she has been repeatedly nominated steering committee member and chair of scientific committees for conferences. Adriana's scientific dedication has been rewarded in various ways by international entities, including the Maritime Policy Commission that invited her to act as an Ambassador for the EU Maritime Policy for Malta.

Prof. Vella has supervised numerous undergraduate, post-graduate and post-doc research of local and foreign students. She has been invited to co-supervise and examine doctoral research abroad.

She is fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Society; Member of the Marine Biological Association of UK and other scientific societies; Malta national contact for the European Cetacean Society; Appointed member of the Committee of Guarantee on Cultural Heritage by the Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate change.
  • Biodiversity: Terrestrial and Marine - Genetic and Species diversity in diverse ecosystems
  • Conservation areas and their management
  • Conservation genetics, Molecular genetics and Phylogenetics
  • Fisheries and conservation of marine resources
  • Vulnerable species and habitat assessments for conservation
  • Recreational fishing and coastal marine conservation
  • Impacts of a changing marine environment: spreading of alien species, jellyfish blooming, sound pollution

MANNOCCI, L., ....... VELLA, A. and VELLA, J., 2018. Assessing cetacean surveys throughout the Mediterranean Sea: A gap analysis in environmental space. SCiENtifiCRepoRTS, 8(3126), pp. 1-14.

VELLA, A. and VELLA, N., 2017. Jellyfish Blooming in Maltese waters and its Socio-economic Interactions. In: G.L. MARIOTTINI, ed, Jellyfish: Ecology, Distribution Patterns and Human Interactions. USA: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., pp. 163-188.

VELLA, A., VELLA, N. and SCHEMBRI, S., 2017. A molecular approach towards taxonomic identification of elasmobranch species from Maltese fisheries landings. Marine Genomics, 36(Navigating the Future: Cross-sector Marine Genomics), pp. 17-23.

SORENSEN, M. and VELLA, A., 2016. Population Structure, Genetic Diversity, Effective Population Size, Demographic History and Regional Connectivity Patterns of the Endangered Dusky Grouper, Epinephelus marginatus (Teleostei: Serranidae), within Malta’s Fisheries Management Zone. . PLoS ONE, 11(7), pp. 1-33.

VELLA, A., AGIUS DARMANIN, S. and VELLA, N., 2016. The first records of Indo-Pacific sergeant Abudefduf vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825) and further notes on the occurrence of sergeant major A. saxatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) in Malta: expanding populations of an invasive genus in the Mediterranean Sea. . Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment, 22(1), pp. 1-15.

VELLA, A. and VELLA, N., 2016. Genetic barcoding and preliminary phylogenetic analysis of Serranidae species from Maltese coastal waters, with a perspective on their Mediterranean phylogeography. . International Journal of Natural and Engineering Sciences, 1(3), pp. 66-77.

VELLA, A., VELLA, N. and AGIUS DARMANIN, S., 2016. The first record of the African Sergeant, Abudefduf hoefleri (Perciformes: Pomacentridae), in the Mediterranean Sea.  . Marine Biodiversity Records, 9(15), pp. 1-5.

VELLA, A., VELLA, N., KARAKULAK, S., ORAY, I., GARCIA-TISCAR, S. and DE STEPHANIS, R., 2016. Population genetics of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus (Linnaeus, 1758), in the Mediterranean: implications for its conservation management . Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 32, pp. 523-531.

VELLA, A., VELLA, N., MASLIN, M. and BICHLMAIER, L., 2016. First molecular barcoding and record of the Indo-Pacific punctuated flatworm Maritigrella fuscopunctata (Newman & Cannon 2000), (Polycladida: Euryleptidae) from the Mediterranean Sea. Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment, 22(2), pp. 119-127.

MIFSUD, C.M. and VELLA, A., 2015. Seasonal habitat use by foraging pipistrelle bats (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in the Maltese Islands . Acta Chiropterologica, 17(2), pp. 337-346.

VELLA, A., AGIUS DARMANIN, S. and VELLA, N., 2015. Morphological and genetic barcoding study confirming the first Stegastes variabilis (Castelnau, 1855) report in the Mediterranean Sea. . Mediterranean Marine Science, 16(3), pp. 609-612.

VELLA, A. and VELLA, J., 2012. Central-southern Mediterranean submarine canyons and steep slopes: role played in the distribution of cetaceans, bluefin tunas and elasmobranchs. In: M. WURTZ, ed, Mediterranean Submarine Canyons: Ecology and Governance. Spain: IUCN, pp. 73-88.

VELLA, A., MAZZOLA, S., NOTARBARTOLO DI SCIARA, G., RAIS, C. and WURTZ, M., 2011. Scientific rationale for the proposed CIESM Pelagian Sea Marine Peace Park. In: F. BRIAND, ed, Marine Peace Parks in the Mediterranean – a CIESM proposal. Monaco: CIESM, pp. 51-53.

  • BIO1090 - Introduction to Conservation Biology
  • BIO1100 - An Introduction to Marine Biology
  • BIO2070 - Biochemical Strategies of Life
  • BIO3070 - Studies in Conservation Biology
  • BIO3080 - Introduction to agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and other biological Resources
  • BIO3130 - Genetics and Developmental Biology
  • BIO3510 - Conservation Genetics
  • BIO3560 - Management of Biological Resources
  • BIO5003 - The Marine Environment: Biological Patterns, Processes and Resources
Research Funded Projects:

University of Malta Awarded Research Fund - LifeScience - BioCon_Innovate
2019-2020 for Wildlife Molecular Genetics studies on Maltese biodiversity

QUIETMED2 - EU funded Project on MSFD Indicator 11 - Noise and its impacts
on marine life. 2019-2020. This follows after participation in QUIETMED 2017-

COST actions allowing networking in different research fields.

ENPI MEDJELLYRISK - Jellyfish blooms - ended

EPBRS - European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategies - ended

Current ongoing research on:

DNA barcoding of marine and terrestrial species
Field studies of dolphins, whales and turtles
Fisheries sustainability in the Mediterranean and artisanal fishing in Malta
Population studies of vulnerable species
Alien species
Marine sound pollution and impacts on marine species
Recreational fishing and coastal biodiversity
Bat species of the Maltese islands: habitat use, diet, conservation
Conservation Areas: monitoring and research