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Samantha Dixon

Position/Title: M.Sc. (Thesis) Student
Office: ANNU 043

After graduating with a B.Sc., honours in Animal Biology, I spent a few years working in various animal care settings. I gained experience working as the calf care manager on a dairy farm, as well as working at an equestrian facility. Additionally, for the past ten years, I have worked as a veterinary technician at a small animal clinic. 

In 2017 I returned to Guelph to continue my education, as I strongly enjoy learning. After receiving an OMAFRA- HQP scholarship, I started my M.Sc. under the supervision of Dr. Angela Cánovas and Dr. Niel Karrow, within the Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock (CGIL).  

Haemonchus contortus is a gastrointestinal nematode that has been identified as a common cause of morbidity and mortality in grazing sheep. This parasite causes rapid and severe anemia, resulting in death for many sheep within 8-12 weeks of exposure on pasture. Chemical controls alone are inadequate, as H. contortus rapidly develops resistance to anthelmintics. My project is looking at an alternative approach to controlling these infections, by selecting sheep that develop an enhanced immune response to this parasite. We will be examining the abomasum transcriptome to identify key regulator genes and functional Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in animals with resistance to H. contortus. The resulting information could be integrated into breeding programs to select for genetically resistant sheep, thus contributing to improved animal health and welfare.

After completion of this project, I hope to continue working with genetics and immunology in dairy cattle. Outside of my work and research, I am a member of the ABSc Graduate Student Council. I also enjoy going to the gym and riding my horse.