Genomics Work on the Experimental Farm

Spring 2015

Regan Cross

Schulich Leader at University of Ottawa

Finally summer is here and with it, I complete my second CO-OP work term at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. I had the fortunate experience of working on the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa for the past four months. I was part of a team researching plant genomics, specifically transferring disease resistant genes from wild species of wheat into various strains of wheat crops. It was interesting work and I learned a great deal about plants, genetics, and the workplace environment. I have included a couple of photos of my work on the Farm.

The best part about my work term was being able to see an entire project through from initiation to completion. We planted and grew a set of wheat crops that we then tested DNA from and inoculated with the disease of interest to see the correlation between the genes of each plant and their susceptibility to the disease. This was a great experience because all of the lab work performed in school courses takes place in the span of three hours, so most of the preparation work is completed by laboratory technicians or teaching assistants beforehand. I learned so much about the biology research field and have discovered that I find it fascinating and interesting work.

Whilst working for AAFC, I was also hard at work as a Co-President of the uOttawa Dance Club. We put on our third annual recital in March, featuring eighteen numbers danced by over 60 club members, presented to a sold out crowd of 300 spectators. This was one of the most difficult and most gratifying experiences I have ever had, working hard in the months preceding the show, and especially hard in the last week of preparation. I am so proud of how far this club has progressed in three years and am excited to return as President of our new expanded executive team for our next season.

I am now on the verge of beginning my third work term for this summer, assisting a Professor at uOttawa with her research. We will be focusing on bees and their behaviour in relation to climate change. I am excited to be travelling to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado for two months to complete the field research on a species of solitary bee that resides there. I am so looking forward to learning as much as possible with this next experience.

I am so thankful to the Schulich Foundation as always for making these experiences possible.