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Hannah Sweett

Position/Title: M.Sc. (Thesis) Student
email: hsweett@uoguelph.ca
Phone: (905) 464-1391
Office: ANNU 043

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During my BSc. in Molecular Biology and Genetics, I completed a project with Dr. Angela Cánovas, using a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with fertility and feed efficiency in beef bulls. GWAS is a new way to identify genes involved in a trait by searching the genome for small variations or SNPs. After graduating in 2017, I worked as OMAFRA’s Dairy and Livestock Sustainability Assistant. This deepened my interest in animal genetics and fertility and led me to pursue an M.Sc. thesis with Dr. Cánovas.

My project will investigate the establishment of pregnancy by comparing cows where artificial insemination (AI) was successful with cows who failed to conceive. Fertility plays a crucial role to farmers; however, reproductive success has decreased during the past half-century worldwide with little research conducted on the reproductive tract microbiota. Therefore, I hope to identify the microbes in the uterus involved in pregnancy success. We will collect vaginal and uterine samples from 40 cows to compare the microbes present in each. From there, cows will be pre-synchronized and inseminated. On Day 15 post-AI, cows will be flushed and identified as pregnant or non-pregnant. The uterine samples will be analyzed to identify the microbial profiles in the cows. If the profiles are different the next step will be to see if the vaginal microbiome can be used as a less invasive approach to infer the bacteria present in the uterus. Analysing these samples will identify the microbes found crucial for reproductive success, which can be incorporated into breeding programs, to improve fertility.

Outside of academia, I enjoy serving as the President of the College Royal Society (a campus-wide open-house event held at the University of Guelph every March), and spending time with family, friends and my rescue dog Ellie. In the future, I hope for a challenging and rewarding career in the livestock industry.