Dr James Kijas
Dr Kijas is a molecular geneticist who has developed an international reputation in the field of animal genomics. Following completion of his PhD in plant genetics (1996), James embarked on a research career focused on the genetics and genomics of domesticated animals. As a postdoctoral scientist guided by Prof. Leif Andersson (SLU, Sweden), he identified a collection of gene mutations responsible for pigmentation traits in pigs and a disease condition in dogs. He moved to Cornell University in 2000 under the guidance of Prof. Gus Aquirre and successfully identified the genetic basis of a number of inherited eye diseases in dogs, and was awarded his first research grants as a principal investigator. He joined the CSIRO Division of Livestock Industries in 2003 and began building a research team in sheep genomics. He was appointed Secretary of the International Sheep Genomics Consortium in 2004 and has been instrumental in the development and delivery of a range of genomic tools. These have included pilot scale SNP arrays, the ovine SNP50 BeadChip and the reference genome assembly. Since release of the SNP50 BeadChip in 2009, he has completed studies into the population history and genetic diversity of sheep breeds as well as a sequence based analysis of wild sheep bighorn populations. Over the last year he has redirected his research into aquacultural species through a focus on genomic variation present within Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon. He has served as Associate Editor for the journal Animal Genetics since 2007, and is an Executive Committee member of the International Society of Animal Genetics.