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Erin Massender


Position/Title: Ph.D. Student
email: emassend@uoguelph.ca
Phone: (519) 365-1013
Office: ANNU 103

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I completed my undergraduate degree here at the University of Guelph with an Honours Bachelors of Arts and Sciences degree specializing in Molecular Biology and Genetics and Ethics in Life Sciences in June 2016. I am originally from a rural area in Southwestern, Ontario (Chatham-Kent) where my family has a hobby farm with an assortment of animals including llamas, laying hens, ducks, barn cats, and a horse. In addition, my family bred English Springer Spaniels and owned Standardbred racehorses when I was younger, which drove my interest in animal breeding and genetics from an early age. I enjoy spending much of my free time volunteering, helping on my family's hobby farm, or training my dog Hunter new tricks! 

In May 2018 I finished an M.Sc. by thesis program in Animal Breeding and Genetics, co-advised by Drs. Flavio Schenkel and Angela Cánovas, within the Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock (CGIL). My M.Sc. research was part of the NSERC-CRD funded "Genetic Improvement of Canadian Lamb Carcass Yield, Quality and Growth Traits" project. This project aims to improve lamb production efficiency and producer profit by developing genetic evaluations and new selection indexes for novel carcass traits, including weight, fat depth, and conformation score.

Before starting my M.Sc. project, I did not have much experience working with small ruminants or knowledge of commercial lamb production. I am very thankful for all of the opportunities I have been given during my time at CGIL, such as assisting the "Sheep Team" with farm and abattoir data collection and attending producer field days and meetings. I have had the opportunity to attend and present at several industry conferences such as the Ontario Sheep Convention (2016, 2017), OMAFRA-KTT From Knowledge to Action Symposium (2017), and OMAFRA Small Ruminant Research Forum (2018). I have also presented academic research at the 11th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (2018, Auckland, New Zealand) and will present at the 2018 American Society of Animal Sciences Annual Meeting (2018, Vancouver, British Columbia) in June. 

In May 2018, I began a Ph.D. program in Animal Breeding and Genetics under the supervision of Dr. Flavio Schenkel as part of the OMAFRA-UofG funded project "Implementation of Genomic Selection to Improve Productivity and Health Traits in Ontario Dairy Goats". This project aims to increase the size of the Canadian dairy goat genomic reference population and to develop the first genomic evaluations to assist Canadian goat producers in improving selection decisions.