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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 an Honours Bachelors of Arts and Sciences degree specializing in Molecular Biology and Genetics and Ethics in Life Sciences at the University of Guelph in June 2016. I am originally from a town called Blenheim in Southwestern, Ontario, where my family has a hobby farm with assorted animals including llamas, laying hens, ducks, barn cats, and a horse. We also 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 at the family farm, and 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. The objective of this project was to improve lamb production efficiency and producer profit by developing genetic evaluations and selection indexes for novel carcass traits.

In May 2018, I began a Ph.D. 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 more than double the size of the genomic reference population, animals with both genotypes and phenotypes for traits of interest, and to develop the first genomic evaluations for production and health traits. Various methodologies will be tested for integrating genomic information to maximize the benefit of genomic selection. Overall, this research will assist Canadian goat producers in making informed selection decisions. 

I am very thankful for all of the opportunities I have been given during my time at CGIL, such as assisting with data collection and attending producer field days and meetings. I have had the opportunity to present posters 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 both the 11th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (2018, Auckland, New Zealand) and the American Society of Animal Sciences Annual Meeting (2018, Vancouver, British Columbia).