Megan Calvert

Background

Megan Calvert was born and raised in South Africa. She attended the University of Pretoria where she obtained a BSc in Genetics and a BSc Hons in Genetics an will soon acquire her MSc in Genetics as well.  Her graduate degrees from the University of Pretoria were all supervised by Prof. Alexander Myburg and Dr. Eschar Mizrachi.  They focused on quantitative genetics in hybrid Eucalyptus species to better understand secondary wall formation.

Statement of Research Interest

The field of genetics holds great interest for me as a researcher, specifically in the area of plant breeding and genetics. I feel that to ensure global food security in the future we must place more emphasis on developing strains of plants, and farming techniques, that will result in an increased crop yield. The field of genetics is uniquely situated to be of aid in this development, as it enables the basic desirable traits of a crop to be identified and improved. This can be done via marker-assisted selection and other breeding techniques, or by the creation of transgenic crops which have increased tolerance to drought, disease or other adverse conditions which may be encountered in the field.

As many of these desired traits are quantitative traits, this may not be as easy as would initially be expected. The identification of selectable genetic markers, such as SNPs, as well as the generation of genetic linkage maps would be required before any quantitative trait loci could be identified. With the generation of RNA-sequence data the identification of QTLs can now be refined by the use of expression QTL’s, which provide increased resolution and may aid in the identification of the quantitative trait nucleotide responsible for the observed variation in the desired trait. This QTN could then be associated with a selectable marker, which will aid in selective breeding.

This is my field of interest. Plants are highly variable and much more complex than many people outside of the scientific community would believe. They are also the basis of many of our primary resources. As such any improved understanding in plant genetics as a whole, specifically in the field of large scale crop farming, can only be beneficial to society in the long run. 

Achievements

One-year mentorship programme under a postgraduate student at the FABI institute, University of Pretoria in second year of study 2010.

NRF Biotechnology Bursary 2012

University of Pretoria Postgraduate Achievement Bursary 2012 (Honours)

NRF Biotechnology Bursary 2013

University of Pretoria Postgraduate Achievement Bursary 2013 (Masters)

NRF Scare Skills Bursary 2014

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