William has now defended this PhD thesis right at the end of 2023, and spent his last few weeks in the Gemmell lab fine tuning some protocols and finishing a couple of projects, before heading back up North and starting his new life as a paid worker as a PostDoctoral Fellow with Anna Santure, at the University of Auckland.
We wish you all the best in your new ventures, William!
Every year the Otago University Student Association, or OUSA for short, holds the Supervisor of the Year Awards for each Division. Students that wish to recognise their supervisors’ efforts in supporting their research can put forward their nomination earlier in the year.
Gert-Jan was overseas at the time of the announcement and for the prize giving award, but Neil was happy to step in and receive the award on his behalf.
A very well deserved recognition indeed! Congratulations, Gert-Jan!
Allison recently presented a poster at the Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, entitles “FFPE archival tissues can inform us about novel pathogens and can likely inform us of genomic responses to environmental change”.
The poster showcases Allison’s latest research results deriving from the use of archival FFPE preserved tissues in the differential expression and gene ontology analysis, comparing modern samples with older ones to get a sense of what different pathogens and genomic responses are there.
Several Gemmell Lab members were over in Melbourne in July to showcase their research to the XXIII International Congress of Genetics, where the overarching theme was Genetics & Genomics: Linking Life & Society. The Congress was aiming at covering the breadth of fundamental discoveries in genetics and genomics, the latest advances in technologies, and important and topical applications in areas such as health, agriculture and the conversation of species and the environment. Our team delegation was a group of 7 hailing from little Dunedin, New Zealand: Neil Gemmell himself, Alana Alexander, Gert-Jan Jeunen, Kristen Fernandes, Chloé Van Der Burg, Benjamín Durán-Vinet, and Monica Vallender.
Lastly, a shot of one of the conference photographers took a snap of a lovely moment shared between Ben and his family which were right there beside him for this special occasion! Such an inspiring family, you guys are awesome!
Two of the Gemmell lab’s most charming PhD students set out to vine, vidi, vici in Ferrara Italy in July with their presentations! Anna ran a symposium at SMBE entitled “Leveraging evolution: controlling wild populations using gene drives and pathogens” and also did a poster presentation.
Monica did a poster presentation at SMBE entitled “Genotyping-by-Sequencing Reveals Male-Female Relatedness Influences Cryptic Female Choice in Chinook Salmon”. Monica’s presence in Italy was facilitated by the 2020 SMBE undergraduate travel and mentoring award (conferred to her this year due to Covid disruptions).
A thesis is of exceptional quality when the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the relevant Division agrees with the unanimous recommendation of all three examiners that the thesis is exceptional in 4 standards: research content, originality, quality of expression, and accuracy of presentation.
Every year 10% of all thesis are recognised to be exceptional, and this year Allison’s thesis was one of them!
On Friday 17th 2023, the University of Otago team (from Gemmell’s lab) alongside the Marine Biosecurity Toolbox had a booth at the ‘All the small things´ event hosted by the Otago Museum and led by Genomics Aotearoa. The event goal was to showcase the environmental DNA research happening at the University of Otago to incoming students, their families and the community.
The DETECT team representatives ( Jo Stanton, Jackson Treece and Benjamín Durán-Vinet) set up a portable isothermal amplification technique demonstration known as LAMP (Loop-mediated isothermal amplification) to portray a rapid, portable, simple and highly specific environmental DNA detection tool that could be used by non-scientific users. They also spoke about other potential eDNA detection tools, such a Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA) and Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Short Repeats (CRISPR).
The booth had several enthusiastic non-scientific volunteers that listened about the importance of eDNA and LAMP potential. They then went through a quick walkthrough of micropipetting to perform a LAMP reaction by themselves by adding 2 uL of sample into the mastermix. Moreover, only 30 minutes later, they were able to directly witness the output of their great work, which worked perfectly. Therein, showcasing its ease-to-use, portability, and accessibility for in-field applications. They were thrilled and happy to see their results and how the Marine Biosecurity Tool is developing new and better tools to keep our marine ecosystem safe.
This was the first time the Biomedical School of Sciences (BMS) held this competition, and we would like to think that we set a good standard for the following years!
A vanilla sponge smothered in dark chocolate ganache was the base for a mountain landscape and a blueberry jelly lake where lampreys, other fish, kelp and Sponge Bob shared their environment with Nessie and Lego Neil!
The cake was of course inspired by the lab’s work around eDNA, and the media hype Neil and Gert-Jan received during their Loch Ness adventure (see what was found during this adventure on our Supernatural History research page).
PhD student Allison Miller recently released an article on the Otago Daily Times (ODT) together with Prof. Hamish Spencer about her favourite fish species, the one and only kanakana (piharau of northern iwi) Geotria australis, or pouched lamprey.