Vanessa Smilansky

My MSc research was conducted at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, NY, USA.  It involved the characterization of population genetic structure in a surface brooding Caribbean octocoral using microsatellite genotyping, genetic distance measurement and spatial autocorrelation. The research aimed to elucidate larval dispersal patterns, which we concluded occur on a fine-scale that varies temporally.

Following the completion of my degree in 2013, I worked as a genetics technician in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Olympia, WA, USA.  My work involved genotyping salmonids with microsatellite and SNP markers for use in genetic stock identification and parentage analysis.  Similar to the structure of the SINGEK network, the complexity of our projects and their far-reaching impacts led to a collaborative effort with other professional organisations both within and outside the agency.

My current ESR project, Genomics of Novel Uncultured Parasites, falls within SINGEK’s “Ecology” work package as it relates to the symbiotic interaction between a parasitic alveolate protist and its ranid tadpole host. We will explore this interaction using a combination of single cell genomic methods while simultaneously investigating Koch’s postulates for disease causation.  We plan to use a combination of SCG and transcriptomics focusing on both the parasite and its free-living relatives to elucidate its phylogenetic diversity, infection mechanism and evolution of parasitic traits.