Holly Gray wins PhD scholarship funded by MIA and the Centre

26 April 2023

MIA & NZFSSRC Scholarship

Congratulations to Massey student Holly Gray, on winning one of five Meat Industry Association (MIA) scholarships for the 2023 academic year. Her PhD scholarship is co-funded by MIA and the NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre (the Centre). Her research is directly relevant to both the meat industry and the Centre’s food safety mission. She will investigate the evolution and survival mechanisms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) – a particular type of foodborne pathogen that can cause serious illness in humans. It can be found in the environment, on farm, and in livestock animals. However, it is mainly transmitted through the faecal-oral route, with cattle being an important reservoir.

We are vigilant about keeping STEC out of the red meat food chain. Holly will use whole genome sequencing, applying Oxford Nanopore Technology, to compare genome sequences of STEC isolates collected from the farm to those from the cattle meat production chain. Holly knows all about the farm environment having grown up on a lifestyle block in the Wairarapa.

Holly's supervisory team from Massey University consists of, Dr Sara Burgess, Professor Patrick Biggs, Dr Adrian Cookson (with AgResearch), Dr Anne Midwinter, and Distinguished Professor Nigel French, with additional advisor Jackie Wright (Institute of Environmental Science and Research).

Courtesy of MIA, Holly and the other four lucky scholars went to Parliament recently to meet with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. They had a special tour of Parliament, including attending a legislative debate. MIA Chief Executive Sirma Karapeeva says, “This day was an opportunity for our scholars to not only get a feel for the workings of government and policy development, but also hear first-hand about some of the areas the industry is focused on, such as trade, marketing and regulatory settings.”