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Victoria Asselstine

Position/Title: Ph.D. Candidate
Office: ANNU 103

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I am currently a Ph.D Candidate with Dr. Angela Cánovas in the Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock research group, affiliated with the Department of Animal Biosciences. I completed my bachelors of science in honours Animal Biology with a minor in Nutrition at the University of Guelph in 2016. I have always aspired to work with animals, but my passion for large animals, specifically dairy cattle was sparked when I was a research assistant for Dr. Trevor DeVries in my third year of undergrad. I worked on a variety of different projects with Dr. DeVries and his students, including projects linked to nutrition, rumination and general cow health. After completing this research position, I decided to pursue graduate school.  

In May 2018, I completed a M.Sc. by thesis with Dr. Angela Cánovas. My project looked at the genetic mechanisms associated with immune response to infection in the cow mammary gland in Holstein dairy cows. This project used a new OMICs technology, known as transcriptomics, which looks at the transcriptome of the animal and allows phenotypic variations between animals to be observed. We were interested in looking differently expressed genes between two conditions, a healthy condition and a mastitic condition. This identified ten potential functional candidate genes associated with the host’s immune response that could impact which cows are more genetically resistant to mastitis. I have now started my Ph.D and this is continuing off of my M.Sc project. The first step for my Ph.D is to identify structural variations, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms, that might impact the functionality of the gene products in the list of 10 functional candidate genes. Once it is determined if there are structural variations in the differentially expressed genes, breeding programs can be developed to breed better animals. This will ensure that producers are able to maintain their herd's health and decrease their costs of treatment for mastitis, while working alongside geneticists. 

In my free time, I love hiking with husband and dogs.