I am originally from the county of Dorset on the south coast of England but moved to Wales to study for my honours degree in Equine Science at Aberystwyth University. For my dissertation project, I collaborated with a veterinary surgery specialising in equine AI and embryo transfer. Here, I compiled an extensive meta-dataset from breeding records to determine the factors associated with multiple ovulation and potential twin fetus in Thoroughbred mares.
My post graduate research used various molecular methods to characterise Ciliate protozoa from the hindgut of the horse. My MSc project involved using laser dissection to isolate single cells and sequencing of 18S rRNA gene amplicons to produce a molecular phlyogeny.
I completed my PhD studentship in 2011, which was funded by the new Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Science (IBERS). The project built on my previous work by characterising the total eukaryotic microbiome of the equine hindgut using high thoughput amplicon sequencing. This was carried out using 18S rRNA gene amplicons for taxonomy and the metatranscriptome for functional activity. Screening the eukaryotic cDNA from the metatranscriptome revealed some novel glycoside hydrolases. This demonstrated both the ability of ciliates to degrade structural carbohydrates and the possibility of lateral gene transfer from Bacteria.
In 2012, I moved to Aberdeen to work at the Rowett Institute on a post doctoral fellowship as part of the European Commission FP7 project 'RuminOmics'. I was also involved with a BBSRC funded project investigating the etiology of sub-acute ruminal acidosis in cattle (SARA).
Using molecular methods to link the composition and functional activity of the rumen microbiota with aspects of livestock production
I am currently working as a research fellow as part of a RESAS funded project using molecular methods to expolore the composition and function of the ruminal microbiome. This is a collaborative project with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) and the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh and aims to find connections between the rumen microbiota and aspects of ruminant livestock production such as efficiency, welfare and environmental impact.