Behind the scenes with Nuffield Canada Scholar, Dr. Stephanie Lam

Research Roundup Spring 2023

Tell us about your background and what brought you to the University of Guelph! 

Growing up with immigrant parents from Vietnam, I was always told that "Canada is full of opportunities". I always followed my interests in science and biology, and along my journey, I found limitless opportunities in Canadian agriculture. I did my MSc in beef cattle nutrition and rumen physiology and PhD in functional genomics and beef cattle feed efficiency under the supervision of Dr. Angela Cánovas at the Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph. There is always more to learn and study to improve the way we produce beef, and I'm lucky to be a part of that at the University of Guelph and contribute to Beef @ Guelph! 

Congratulations on being a Nuffield scholar, can you tell us about this program and how it has helped you in your academic career? 

The Nuffield Canada Scholarship is an agricultural leadership program given to select Canadians that have an impact in any field of agriculture (primary production, processing, policy, KTT, non-profit, research etc.), with the aim to allow the scholars to conduct a travel study on their topic of interest and bring back stories, insights, and experiences to enhance Canada's agricultural system. My study topic is 'Genetic and genomic approaches to improve Canadian beef production' and I'm fortunate to be sponsored by Semex Alliance. This program will benefit my academic career, and professional career in general, by allowing me to experience production and research systems from other countries and access a global network of leaders in agriculture. My study will start in the Fall of 2023 and I'm excited to share what I learn. The Nuffield Canada scholarship 2024 application is open from April 1 to June 30 2023 and I highly encourage anyone passionate about improving Canadian agriculture to apply. 

What is your research focusing on, can you give us a summary? 

Currently, major challenges for the beef sector include the need for mitigating Greenhouse Gas emissions while remaining profitable and resource efficient. My research at the University of Guelph is focused on using '-OMICs' technologies to study environmentally and economically desirable traits in beef cattle to improve beef production systems in Canada. This work involves studying the cattle genome (genetic mutations, gene expression, and biological processes), the rumen microbiome (bacteria and archaea profiles), and the interactions between them that may impact how feed efficient an animal is, or their level of methane production. 

Is there anything else about your research that you would like to share? 

We often get asked, what is '-OMICs'? '-OMICs' is the study of multiple biological levels at its 'whole' or 'complete' range. For example, this may include the study of all metabolites, which is defined as 'metabolomics', or the study of all proteins, which is defined as 'proteomics'. As we continue to study highly complex traits (like feed efficiency and methane production), the study of '-OMICs' will become increasingly important to better understand the whole biological system and underlying molecular interactions that drive the variability of these traits. 

Who are your funding sources for this project? 

This research is currently being funded by Beef Farmers of Ontario. 

Is there anyone else working with you on this project? 

The Canovas lab is a highly collaborative research group working with academic, government, industry and research centre partners globally. In Canada, one of our major collaborators is Dr. Leluo Guan at the University of Alberta who focuses on the study of bovine -OMICs and Microbes. 

Recent News

  • Farmtario: Monitoring enteric methane emissions on pasture

    Read More
  • OMAFRA beef cattle specialist James Byrne discussing the rising plate meter

    Pasture Mixes, Pasture Management, and Methane Reduction

    Read More
  • Kayleigh in pasture with cattle

    Behind the scenes with M.Sc. candidate Kayleigh DeCoste

    Read More