Nicole Fahner, HBSc. (MSc. Student)
Before coming to the University of Guelph for graduate studies, I attended the University of Toronto where I received an Honours B.Sc. in Forensic Science and Biology. Through some work experience in the Royal Ontario Museum’s Natural History collection and an internship at the Natural Resources DNA Profiling & Forensic Centre at Trent University, I developed an interest in DNA-based species identification tools.
Here, at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, I am combining DNA barcoding with high throughput sequencing to assess biodiversity from bulk environmental samples as part of the Biomonitoring 2.0 project. Specifically, I am taking a multi-locus approach with environmental DNA from soil to examine temporal patterns in belowground vascular plant diversity in the dynamic Peace-Athabasca Delta wetlands. My work focuses on developing the molecular methodology and bioinformatics analysis, as well as testing for interactions between DNA markers and observed temporal biodiversity trends.
In other words, I am refining the molecular lab protocols for plant mixtures from environmental samples and then fine tuning the computer analysis that makes sense of the millions of sequences output per sample. Once this is done, I will test if belowground plant diversity changes over time as observed aboveground, and whether all of the DNA markers reveal the same or different annual changes in plant diversity.