Position/Title: M.Sc. Student
Office: ANNU 043
Honours Bachelor of Science, University of Guelph (2017)
I am currently a Master of Science by thesis student studying genomic inbreeding in turkeys under the supervision of Dr. Christine Baes and Dr. Ben Wood. Throughout my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, my subjects of interest included biology and statistics. I also developed an interest for improving the health and well-being of animals through my extensive experience working in the veterinary industry with animals including cattle, horses, dogs, cats, and exotic and avian species. These passions and the constant desire to learn led me to pursue research in the field of animal breeding and genetics.
As selection for better birds intensifies in Canadian turkeys, the rate of inbreeding in these populations can increase. Inbreeding can be defined as the production of offspring from the breeding of individuals that are closely related in terms of genetics. Increased inbreeding has been found to be associated with reduced fitness which can lead to poor health and well-being of the animals. My research involves using methods that have been successfully used to analyze the genomes of other livestock species to analyze the level of inbreeding in the turkey genome. This genomic analysis has hopes of providing breeders with new methods for monitoring and controlling the parts of the genome that are linked to reduced fitness in turkeys. My research is part of a large project that is aimed at improving the health, welfare, and productivity of Canadian turkeys with the application of genomic selection. The University of Guelph has collaborated with Hybrid Turkeys, a leading primary breeder and distributer of turkey genetics, to complete this project. More information regarding the project can be found at the following link: Hybrid Turkeys receives funding for $6 million genomic selection project. The project has potential to improve not only the economics of the turkey industry, but also will have environmental benefits due to improved feed efficiency and reduced manure and greenhouse gas production.
In addition to my part of this project, I have also been assisting with the projects of two Ph.D. students, Ryley Vanderhout and Emily Leishman, who are also working towards the improvement of turkey genetics.
Outside of my work and research, I enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and spending time with family and friends. I look forward to continuing to learn more about the industry of animal breeding and genetics and keep an open mind with respect to pursuing interesting opportunities.