Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize 2010 – Kay Boulton

Winning the Sir Kenneth Mather Memorial Prize in 2009/10 was an out-of-the-blue, complete surprise for me, as I had, until a mysterious envelope with a Birmingham University postmark landed on my desk, no idea that it either existed or that my MSc dissertation had been entered.  My work was forwarded for consideration by Professors Ross Houston, DJ De Koning and Chris Haley, all supervisors of the project based at Roslin Institute, whom I must thank for their support.  The manuscript, “locating SNPs for growth and stress in golden seabream (Sparus aurata)” was subsequently published in the journal “Aquaculture”.  When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Manchester, back in the days when people wore bell-bottom trousers and Afghan coats, I studied botany, and opted for the genetics modules in my final year.  I bought “Introduction to Biometrical Genetics”, by K. Mather and J.L. Jinks, and have to admit that it remains in almost mint condition, with no evidence of having been opened, other than to write my name and the date (15th October, 1980) on the first page – quite unlike my more recently purchased copy of Falconer and MacKay!

As a mature woman returning to academia following an almost thirty year break spent, among other things, farming and improving livestock by selective breeding, winning this prize has given my confidence as a scientist a tremendous boost.

Having recently completed my no corrections PhD at Edinburgh University in behavioural ecology and coping with stress with a large quantitative genetic slant, I have returned to the Roslin Institute as a post-doc and am working on locating phenotypic and genomic biomarkers for natural resistance to Eimeria spp. in chickens .  I am also immensely proud to have recently completed three years as the post-graduate representative and another couple representing Section D, Applied and Quantitative Genetics, on the Genetics Society Committee.  I am currently the editor of the Genetics Society Website.

The photograph was taken sitting on a big painted stone in Faro, Portugal, where , courtesy of a Heredity Fieldwork Grant I was fortunate to spend time in the lab of Adelino Canario, learning the technique of extracting  cortisol from fish-tank water.