I am in my 2nd year of my PhD in Animal Science
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in a small town outside of Ottawa. Growing up we always lived in the country and always had lots of animals around. I now live in Guelph where I go to school and study animal diseases. When I'm not at school I like to spend time outdoors. In the summer I like to go camping, hiking and canoeing, and I like to go skiing and skating in the winter.
What is your research about?
My research looks at the interaction between two diseases that affect sheep and goats. One of the diseases is caused by a bacterial infection, and the other is a viral infection. The bacteria and the virus that I investigate affect cells of the immune system. I want to understand what happens to the immune system when animals are infected with the virus and the bacteria. Another cool aspect of my work is that the virus I investigate is related to the HIV-1 virus, which causes AIDS in humans, so I often look at AIDS research to better understand my work.
What have you enjoyed the most about your research?
What I love most about my work is that I'm always learning something new, and I get to explore an area that we don't know very much about.
... I'm always learning something new, and I get to explore an area that we don't know very much about.
What have you found most challenging about your research?
My research can be challenging because so little research has investigated the diseases in sheep. This makes my research a challenge because I'm always trying to discover something new and it often doesn't work as planned.
How has your research experience influenced your career path?
My current experience with my research has definitely helped me shape my ideas and future career goals. Throughout my time in school my career goals have changed quite a bit to reflect the reality of a career in academia. As a result I have decided that I will pursue work in the private sector or government rather than a career at a university.
How has your research impacted the world?
With my work I hope to help improve farmer's understanding of these diseases and the ways in which they can prevent them. If farmers become more educated in these areas then they will have healthier flocks with improved meat, milk, and wool production.
What do you predict will be the next big breakthrough in your field of research?
I think the next big breakthrough in my area would be the development of a vaccine against this virus in sheep.
I love doing research because I love learning and discovering new things, and I also love animals.
What motivates you to do research?
I love doing research because I love learning and discovering new things, and I also love animals. I wanted to be a vet but I wanted to direct my learning differently so I could continue to expand my knowledge outside the confines of the classroom. I began by taking some lab courses and that’s how I got my Master’s position, then my PhD position.
Tell us about your 'Eureka' moment
I knew I wanted to do research when I was 14 years old when I got to meet a wildlife biologist on a 5-day hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies. While on the trip we met the biologist on the trail who was conducting research on grizzly bears. After talking to her, and learning more about her work I was hooked! My ideas changed over the years and I combined research with my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian, this led me to pursue animal research instead, which is where I am today.