Nicholas Werry

Headshot of Nicholas Werry against a blue backdrop
Primary Faculty Advisor: 
Jonathan LaMarre
Department of Biological Sciences

Coming from a family of dairy farmers, I specialized in genetics for my HBSc at Western University. I was able to connect these two aspects of my background by enrolling in an MSc program at the University of Guelph, supervised by Dr. Jon LaMarre. I chose to study with Dr. LaMarre as his research program allows me to apply my education in molecular genetics to interesting and relevant problems in the dairy industry, as my work is focused on identifying molecular biomarkers in bovine semen to predict fertility. This project is in partnership with Semex, an artificial insemination company with a vested interest in producing high semen for their customers. Identifying these biomarkers will improve the efficiency of the artificial insemination industry and may reveal mechanistic issues which reduce bovine fertility, findings that would likely be transferrable to humans. I have identified molecular sequences (specifically microRNAs) whose abundance correlates with bull fertility. To facilitate use of these microRNAs as biomarkers, I will verify these preliminary findings by more precise molecular techniques. Concurrently, I will investigate the other genetic elements these sequences interact with to discern their influence on fertility. The HQP program has allowed me to expand the scope of my research into a PhD project, and provides an opportunity to strengthen my connections within the artificial insemination industry. I intend to apply my knowledge of genetics to the livestock production industry in the future, so the connections developed through the HQP program will be invaluable.