The sporadically updated website of geneticist
and former jockey, David Howard


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Postgraduate Degree - PhD

I started my 4 year PhD under the guidance of Professor John Woolliams in September 2011. The funding for the project is being provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the pig breeding company Genus PIC. The aim of my PhD is firstly to measure how much genetic diversity there has been within a population of animals, and how well this diversity has been managed in the past. And secondly to investigate new ways to measure and control diversity in the future, using cutting-edge genetics.

Doing a PhD is a bit of an odd experience as although you are classed as a student you are completely in charge of your own progress. You do get help and support from your supervisors but ultimately you are responsible for your own learning and development. As part of my training I have undertaken the courses which make up a Masters degree in Quantitative Genetics and Genome Analysis. I have also completed courses on various computer programming languages, including python, perl and fortran as well as courses on scientific writing and presenting.

On a day to day basis I spend my time reading published research in scientific journals, coming up with my own ideas for new research and things to investigate, writing new computer programs to analyse data, drawing conclusions from my results, writing and submitting papers about those results, applying for grants and funding for travel and additional research, submitting abstracts for inclusion at scientific conferences and presenting my findings to my funders and at seminars and conferences.

I have presented the results from a couple of my projects at the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production in Vancouver, Canada and at the European Federation of Animal Science annual meeting in Nantes, France.

The title of the abstract that was accepted for presentation at the World Congress was The structural impact of implementing Optimal Contribution selection in a commercial pig breeding population and clicking on the title will open the abstract in a new window.

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