Prof. Adriana Vella

Prof. Adriana Vella

Prof. Adriana Vella



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. Also pioneering Maltese Cetacean Conservation Research. 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.

Prof Vella is fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Society; Member of the Marine Biological Association of UK and other scientific societies; She is the Malta National Contact for the European Cetacean Society; She is the Chair of the University of Malta Maritime Platform.
  • Dolphin, Whale and Turtle Research
  • Conservation genetics, Molecular genetics and Phylogenetics
  • Biodiversity: Terrestrial and Marine - Genetic and Species diversity in diverse ecosystems
  • Conservation areas and their management
  • Fisheries and conservation of marine resources
  • Impacts of a changing marine environment: spreading of alien species, jellyfish blooming, sound pollution
  • Vulnerable species and habitat assessments for conservation
Research Funded Projects:

The Interreg Italia-Malta SEA MARVEL project focusing on Dolphin, Whale, Turtle distribution in Natura 2000 sites of the Maltese Islands also considering the impacts of plastics and aliens species. Stakeholders in the educational, environmental, fisheries, conservation and seafaring sectors are involved in this project.

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