I am a PhD student based at the Earlham Institute (EI) and University of East Anglia, supervised by Dr Matt Clark (EI) and Prof Cock van Oosterhout in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA. My background is in conservation, ecology and molecular ecology and I have experience working in the field and laboratory. I am currently further developing my bioinformatics skills. In the past I have studied African plants, Samango monkeys, Ryeland sheep, Grevy’s zebra and ancient DNA. My primary interest is in how cutting edge sequencing technology can be coupled with practical conservation to develop long term strategies to help save endangered species.
My PhD project ‘Genome wide analysis of drift and selection of drift and selection using historic and contemporary samples of the endangered Mauritius pink pigeon’, which is co-supervised by Dr Diana Bell (UEA), Prof Carl Jones MBE (Durrell Wildlife Trust), Prof Ian Barnes (Natural History Museum) and Dr Lawrence Percival-Alwyn (EI), aims to bring together zoos & zoo keepers, museums and researchers to genetically rescue and continue to conserve the endangered pink pigeon.
By sequencing DNA extracted from pink pigeon museum samples from the 1800s and comparing it with contemporary genetic data I hope to be able to identify regions of the pink pigeon genome that have lost genetic diversity or is under balancing selection. In particular I want to examine the highly variable immune genes and use this information to help develop a genetic supplementation program that increases both genetic diversity and the number of resistant alleles within the pink pigeon population. This approach should help reverse some of the negative impacts of inbreeding and increase the pink pigeons’ resistance to the pathogen Trichomonas gallinae which currently kills over 60% of fledglings.