Grant helps student’s project

A former Tauranga Boys’ College student is getting a $5000 scholarship to go towards a Bachelor of Science research project.

Zach McLean, who is currently studying at the University of Waikato, will take on a project that involves investigating genes associated with the genetic network regulating pluripotency in bovine embryos.

Former Tauranga Boys’ College student Zach McLean gets to work in the Reproductive Technologies laboratory at AgResearch, as part of his research project funded by a $5000 LIC scholarship.

Pluripotent cells are able to produce all cell types in the body, and emerge during early pre-implantation development.

Zach will be working alongside Dr Bjorn Oback and the Reproductive Technologies group at AgResearch.

“My project will contribute to the aim of capturing this population of cells within the early embryo. Once captured, we wish to derive so-called embryonic stem cells from this cell population.

“With these cells, valuable genetics of elite cows could be stored in a petri dish and used to speed up the breeding process,” says Zach.

“In the future, this accelerated breeding will lead to animals with desirable traits, such as a higher milk yield or reduced methane production.”

Zach completed his Bachelor of Science (Technology) (BSc(Tech)) with a double major in chemistry and biological sciences last year at Waikato University and will continue this year with a BSc(Hons) focusing solely on biological sciences.

“In my first placement, I was in a water testing laboratory at SGS in Waihi, during which I used analytical techniques to analyse a number of samples from the Waihi gold mine. In my second placement, I undertook a project at AgResearch in the Reproductive Technologies group.

“This involved research using a number of molecular biology and embryology skills and ultimately led me to my post-graduate research topic.”

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