Torbjørn Ekrem is interested in evolution, systematics and biogeography, in particular of non-biting midges of the family Chironomidae (Diptera). His research focuses on taxonomy, biology, phylogeny, zoogeography and molecular systematics of this intriguing group of insects, but he is also involved in work with other groups of animals and plants. Among these, tardigrades through the project Tardigrades in Norwegian forests.
Torbjørn is involved in various projects testing and using DNA barcoding in biosystematics and ecology. He is chairing the Norwegian Barcode of Life network and project (NorBOL), which is a national research infrastructure on DNA Barcoding. NorBOL aims to develop a barcode reference database for Norwegian species to support barcoding in applied projects (such as EBAI and Plant.ID). He is also involved in the COST action DNAqua-Net as member of the Management Committee and co-lead of the working group on reference libraries.
Torbjørn is curator of Diptera, Hymenoptera, Arachnida and a few minor insect orders at the NTNU University Museum. The last couple of years he has lectured courses in biosystematics, biogeography and molecular techniques (BI1002, BI2001 and BI8002) at the NTNU Department of Biology.