Born and raised in Victoria, BC, I went to UVic and graduated with a BSc, co-op in microbiology and a minor in biology. I have a split fascination with microbes and plants, but, feeling the draw to follow my forebears (my mother’s family has been in the French winemaking industry going back 5 generations) I decided I wanted to do a MSc in molecular viticulture with Dr. Castellarin. Though I live and breathe science, it is not my only passion in life, and when I’m not thinking up experiments you’ll find me either swing dancing at one of the local joints, rock climbing at the gym or in the mountains, baking bread and pastries, gardening with my hands deep in dirt or biking around to take in the fresh air.
If you’re interested in what I’m doing in the lab, here is a brief summary of my project:
All plants have an outer protective layer called the cuticle on their epidermal surfaces that act as the primary physical barrier against environmental stresses. Work on characterizing the structure, composition and the biosynthetic pathway of the cuticle is carried out mainly in arabidopsis and tomato, but we know little about the grapevine cuticle apart from the general composition of cuticular waxes. Water deficit (WD) stress and plant water relations are an important topic in viticulture. It is common to apply WD to modulate grape berry development in the wine and grape industry. Separated into three objectives, this project aims to understand how the grape berry cuticle responds to water deficit stress during grape berry development. First, identify candidate genes of the wax cuticle biosynthetic pathway in grapevine. Second, characterize in silico the expression of the wax cuticle biosynthetic genes by analysis of available RNA-seq datasets of grapevine under different conditions. Third, perform a greenhouse experiment examining the development of grape berry cuticle under WD to characterize the changes in cuticular wax composition, rate of water transpiration through the berry cuticle, and gene expression of the cuticular wax pathway.