I am a M.Sc. Thesis student studying under the supervision of Dr. Jim Squires and Dr. Renee Bergeron. I graduated in spring 2018 with a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Queen's University. My passion for animals began growing up on a small hobby farm in Eastern Ontario with sheep and chickens. I am grateful for the opportunity to now combine my love for animals and passion for science through research in animal science.
My research combines swine physiology and behaviour. Castration of male piglets has become a large welfare concern based on the pain and stress the procedure causes. Castration occurs for two main reasons: to reduce aggression in male pigs, and to reduce the incidence of a meat quality issue called boar taint. Boar taint causes an unpleasant odour/taste when cooking meat from some uncastrated pigs. Genetic selection for the reduction of boar taint has become a possibility, but the behavioural effects of this selection are unknown. My research will investigate the behavioural changes, specifically aggression, of genetic selection for low and high boar taint pigs, between castrated and non-castrated males. Behavioural tests will include the open field test, novel object test, reactivity to humans test, and resident-intruder test. Meat and carcass quality will also be assessed for both groups of pigs. We will be working with industry partners Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement and Alliance Genetics Canada throughout the project. With this research we hope to provide a feasible alternative to castration of piglets through genetic selection of low boar taint.
During my free time, I love spending time with friends and family, hiking with my dog, officiating hockey, or volunteering with animals.