I graduated from the University of Sussex with a first-class degree in BSc Genetics. During my undergrad I received funding from the British Society for Cell Biology to perform a summer research placement in Hochegger Lab at the Genome Damage & Stability Centre, investigating the forces leading to centrosome separating and mitotic entry.
Outside of my academic training, I own and breed a small herd of pedigree Jersey cows. All our females are genomically tested for trait-linked SNPs from which breeding indexes can be calculated, this is done to aid breeding decisions and identify genetically superior individuals earlier. It was this interest in genomics and breeding, which resulted in doing a BSc in Genetics, and subsequently attracted me to my PhD project.
My project is an iCASE partnership, supervised by Professor Katherine Denby (University of York), Dr John Clarkson (University of Warwick) & Dr Frances Gawthrop (Tozer Seeds).
One of the greatest challenges facing humanity is how to sustainably feed a growing population while reducing the environmental impact and land usage of food production. Currently, plant diseases are costing the global economy approximately $220 billion annually, by causing the loss of 15% of pre-harvest yields. Furthermore, pesticides/fungicides used to combat these diseases have environmental impacts and fungi can become resistant. Therefore, attention must switch to genetic resistance in order to control plant diseases.
My project will specifically look at two fungal pathogens, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Botrytis cinerea, both of these have broad-host ranges and are able to infect over 200 plant species each. Furthermore, these pathogens cause £10 million per year in pre-harvest losses in Lettuce in the UK (AHDB, 2013). In order to identify novel sources of resistance to these fungal pathogens using a data-driven approach, such as RNA-seq & QTLs.