2013 Jeff Fairbrother Scholarship recipient

Congratulations go to new Poultry CRC Honours student Mr Ben Vezina, who has been awarded the 2013 Jeff Fairbrother Scholarship. This award gives Ben an extra $2000 on top of his existing CRC scholarship. Well done Ben!

Ben’s project, ‘Development of plasmid cloning vectors for use in Lactobacillus’ aims to develop new plasmid cloning vectors suitable for use in the live delivery vector strain aspect of Dr Rob Moore’s Project (Project 3.1.4). Ben’s project will build upon previous PhD projects that identified a number of Lactobacillus strains that can reliably persist in birds, and that can be genetically manipulated, thus being excellent candidates for development as live strains for antigen delivery.

Dr Moore explains, “This Honours project will assist with the development of the underlying technology and will develop new plasmid shuttle-vectors, specifically tailored to our needs, which can replicate in both Escherichia coli and L. agilis. Shuttle-vectors have been developed for use in other lactobacillus species, and we are currently utilizing these plasmids, however, they have a number of limitations in terms of structure, size, restriction enzyme sites, and stability. The plasmid cloning vectors developed in this Honours project will be a significant advance on the current tools and this project will significantly aid our efforts to develop a Campylobacter vaccine”.

Ben explained how this all came about. “My bachelor degree at Deakin University required a unit of work experience, so I decided to step out of my suburban comfort zone and apply for CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory” said Ben. “I landed with Dr Rob Moore and his chicken team and moved down to Geelong for two weeks. Within that time I had learned not so much about the glossy term “science”, but about science in the real world. They were a team of intelligent people who got together and tried to solve problems; I felt like they were a team of molecular detectives. After I left I knew that I wanted to be a part of a team like that, and if I wanted to learn about good science in the field I was interested in, then I should apply for Honours with these people. So I picked a project Rob was supervising and got accepted. I guess when it comes down to it, I chose to do research because I am interested in learning, and I honestly couldn’t think of a more interesting career than having someone pay you to learn things. My project involves looking at trying to develop a vaccine for Campylobacter using a probiotic organism”.

Ben’s plans to complete his Honours and is fairly certain his future will involve molecular/microbiological research, and possibly a PhD. “So far I have learned a lot while enjoying my time being part of the team” he said. “It is nice feeling like my time is being spent in a meaningful way and I am contributing to something bigger than myself. The work is challenging and I am enjoying the responsibility I have been given”.

Poultry CRC Chair, The Hon John Kerin, CEO Professor MIngan Choct and former Chair Jeff Fairbrother in 2009
Poultry CRC Chair, The Hon John Kerin, CEO Professor MIngan Choct and former Chair Jeff Fairbrother in 2009

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