Catching up with Teja

We catch up with researcher Teja Yarra to find out how she is getting on:

Teja

-How your research is going: what sort of things have you discovered to date?

The research is on track including all the second year hiccups that seem to be so prevalent with PhDs! So far we have accomplished much: We were able to look at healing rates from shell damage in different species. We have set up a bioinformatics pipeline to analyse differential gene expression and provided bivalve mantle transcriptomes to the fellow
CACHE teams working on population genetics and proteomics. We have also collaborated with CCMAR to look at how the bivalve mantle tissue differs in expression in different areas of the animal.

-Tell us, very simply, more about Transcriptomics and Differential Gene Expression and what does it involve?
We are looking at how genes are differentially expressed in bivalve mantle tissues so as to understand what genes are involved in shell formation. We are specifically looking at RNA data (the transcriptomics part – as opposed to DNA, fondly referred to as genomics) so that we are only measuring expressed genes and not all genes. Secondly, we are using different
statistics models to assess whether the difference in gene expression is valid (the Differential gene expression part).

What have been your highlights during your time with CACHE so far?
I loved starting off my project spending a month in Oban. Driving on the other side of the road through tiny-windy-winding Scottish roads was exhilarating. Oh…wait, you guys mean about the project. Um yeah, shellfish are cool! One of the aspects I find very interesting with the CACHE project is that it is so interdisciplinary and that every project is focusing on the same set of species and trying to answer the same fundamental questions, but from a different perspective. I especially enjoyed the CACHE workshops we had that showcased the different aspects of work going on in the projects.

-How are you enjoying living in UK?
The UK has the best chips I have eaten and during my trips to Scotland, I have discovered how great fish and chips can be if done right! Coming from Canada, I was not-so-pleasantly surprised at how bone-chilling cold it can get here and have developed a new found appreciation for tweed and scotch!

-Have you had much time for your hobbies, like your hiking?
Unfortunately, I seem to have had pretty bad luck with the weather here and a oh-the-weather-will-get-better mentality led to me getting lost on a mountain. Instead, I have found a new hobby in the form of traveling since living in Europe makes it very easy to go to other countries very quickly and cheaply. My passport is running out of pages to get stamped!

-What’s your priority with your research for the remainder of the CACHE project?
Almost entering the third year on my PhD, so its time to wrap up the show and present some results!! We spent a lot of time with experiment set-up and preliminary analysis and are moving towards the final leg of the data analysis which we hope will yield useful results!

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