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Upcoming events hosted by or involving Genetics Otago will be listed here. Please check back regularly for updates. A calendar of events that may be of interest to our members can be found at the bottom of this page and in the sidebar of other pages on this site, please note that this includes events hosted outside of Genetics Otago.

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VISG Seminar Series

The Virtual Institute of Statistical Genetics (VISG) Hub is a key part of Genetics Otago, providing a platform for researchers to collaborate and exchange knowledge and expertise in statistical genetics. The VISG Hub hosts seminars, workshops, and other events to promote statistical genetics research and foster collaboration between researchers.

We’re excited to announce our monthly genetics research seminars, aimed at connecting researchers in the field. The seminars will commence in May 2023 and will be hosted by GO’s Virtual Institute of Statistical Genetics (VISG) Hub along with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Otago. These seminars will be available in person or via Zoom, and all are welcome.

Date: 3rd Thursday of the month
Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm


  • May: Associate Professor Phil Wilcox, University of Otago
  • June: Professor Mik Black, University of Otago
  • July: Dr Ludovic Dutoit, University of Otago – please note that this seminar will be held on the 27th of July rather than the 20th due to ICG.
  • August: Dr Setegn Alemu, AgResearch
  • September: Ee Cheng Oi, Abacus Bio
  • October: Franziska Weik, Beef + Lamb NZ Genetics – Cancelled
  • November: Dr Jane Symonds and Dr Megan Scholtens, Cawthron – please note that this seminar will be held on the 17th of November rather than the 16th due to the Genetics Otago Annual Symposium.

Zoom Details
If you would like the Zoom details for this event, please contact us.

Next Seminar

The next seminar will be held on Friday the 17th of November, 11 am in Biochemistry Seminar Room G13 and will be given by Dr Jane Symonds and Dr Megan Scholtens, Cawthron Institute.

Title: Environmental resilience in aquatic species

Abstract: The New Zealand aquaculture sector faces growing vulnerability due to climate change, with marine heatwaves already causing elevated summer mortality rates in Greenshell mussels and king (Chinook) salmon. To tackle these challenges, selective breeding and genomic selection offer long-term solutions. Temperature challenge models, implemented in controlled tank environments, have been developed for both species. So far, this approach has been applied successfully to test more than 230 pedigree king salmon families and 21 Greenshell mussel families. Heritabilities for time to death at elevated temperature were high (0.34 to 0.48) suggesting that selection for improved thermotolerance is possible.

Megan Scholtens

Megan is a geneticist within the Aquaculture Group at Cawthron and is involved in a number of research projects across the ‘Shellfish Aquaculture’ and ‘Finfish Climate Change Adaptation’ platforms. Megan specialises in the application of genetic and genomic methodologies to enhance the understanding of how genes affect traits such as growth, development, behaviour, reproduction and immunity to improve the efficiency, resilience and survivability of aquatic species. In addition, Megan contributes to research activities of the Aquaculture team by integrating the experimental biology with commercial production to help provide solutions for clients and deliver tangible outcomes for the aquaculture industry.

Jane Symonds

Jane is a Senior Scientist and Team Leader in the Aquaculture Group at Cawthron. Jane’s focus is the application of research to enhance sustainable commercial production with a specific interest in king salmon farming and selective breeding. She has over 30 years of experience in this field. As a science programme leader she oversees a wide range of multi-disciplinary collaborative projects with internal and external partners, including salmon feed efficiency, genomics, behaviour, health, physiology, microbiomics, climate change adaptation, data science and developing trials to selectively breed resilient and efficient king salmon. Implementation of research for sustainable and profitable aquaculture development is a key driver for Jane. Dr Symonds is also a Senior Adjunct Researcher at the University of Tasmania and helps supervise multiple post-graduate students.

If you have any questions about this seminar series please contact us.

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Calendar of Events

The below is a calendar of events hosted by GO as well as events hosted by others that may be of interest to our members. If you have an event you would like us to include please contact us here.

Species-wide genomics of kākāpō provides transformational tools to accelerate recovery @ Online
Aug 4 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Species-wide genomics of kākāpō provides transformational tools to accelerate recovery

A reminder about our Genomics Aotearoa seminar, online this Friday, August 4 at 3pm.

We welcome Dr Joseph Guhlin (University of Otago) to talk about Species-wide genomics of kākāpō provides transformational tools to accelerate recovery.

Please invite colleagues to join our genomics community and take part in this seminar. Look forward to seeing you there. Questions and discussions are welcome.

Join from PC, Mac, iOS, or Android:

About Joseph
Dr Joseph Guhlin graduated with a PhD in Plant & Microbial Sciences from the University of Minnesota.

Based at the University of Otago, he is working in the Genomics Aotearoa High Quality Genomes and Population Genomics programme. A programmer by trade, he is interested in small pop genomics, high-performance computing, gene family expansion and contractions, and applying machine learning to small populations and genetics.

Outlier Analysis Workshop @ TBC
Aug 9 @ 10:00 am – Aug 10 @ 4:00 pm

This in-person workshop is delivered by Genomics Aotearoa and NeSI, and will be taught over two consecutive days on 9-10 August 2023 from 10am-4pm NZT. It is for New Zealand researchers interested in signals of selection in genomes.

Sign up to this workshop at Eventbrite.

The focus of this workshop is on identifying signals of selection in an example genome using the outlier analysis method. Outlier analysis assumes that the majority of the genome is under neutral selection and some loci will appear as outliers relative to this background.

This lesson assumes learner has no prior experience with the tools covered in the workshop. However, learners are expected to have some familiarity with biological concepts, including the concept of selection. You are expected to have some familiarity with both the R programming language and with basic command line (bash). If you need to refresh, please revise the material in our previous workshops on R and bash.

We encourage you to bring your own data! For participants who do not have their own data, a group dataset is available and will be used by the instructors during the examples.

During this workshop you will:
Download example genomic data (or prepare your own).
Use the PCAdapt tool to identify outlier loci within a genome.
Use VCFtools to identify outlier SNPS in population comparisons.
Use Bayescan to identify outlier SNPS based on allele frequencies.
Relate identified SNPS to phenotypic variation.
Compare the results of the different methods and discuss the results.
This is an in-person, hands-on workshop. This workshop material will be run on the NeSI High Performance Computing (HPC) platforms – there is no need to install any software for this workshop. Instructions on how to access the NeSI HPC service will be sent out with the confirmation letter to registrants.

Participants must have their own laptops and plan to participate actively. You will require a working web browser.

If you have any questions about these workshops, including whether they are suitable for you, please contact

Tyler McInnes
Training Coordinator, Genomics Aotearoa

Webinar: 3D Genomics Experimental Considerations @ Online
Aug 10 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Webinar: 3D Genomics Experimental Considerations

Aug 10, 2023 3:00 PM (Auckland)

Join us for an insightful talk on 3D Genomics, where we will walk you through what is involved in designing and running a 3D Genomics experiment in the lab, sharing tips and best practices. We will also highlight how to QC the library, and what resources are available to navigate data processing. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions to our expert scientist.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to design a 3D Genomics experiment.
  • What is involved in running a 3D Genomics experiment in the lab.
  • How to navigate data processing and QC analysis.

Speaker: Myriam El Khawand, Ph.D. 

Senior Customer Success Scientist

Dovetail Genomics, part of Cantata Bio

DTG Webinar_10 Aug

Indigidata Aotearoa Network Launch
Aug 21 @ 9:00 am – Aug 24 @ 5:00 pm

There are 20 fully funded positions available on the program.

The program is open to Māori (tauira, kaitiaki, kaipakihi) who want to better understand the opportunities and challenges associated with māori data science, māori data sovereignty, as well as key technical, cultural and ethical issues.

Applications will be considered from university students in any discipline as well as people with strong iwi, community or business background.

Applications will close Sunday 16 July 2023.

Unravelling Gene Regulation with the Dovetail Pan Promoter Panel @ Online
Aug 30 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Unravelling Gene Regulation with the Dovetail Pan Promoter Panel

Advancements in genomics have revolutionized our understanding of gene regulation, paving the way for ground-breaking discoveries in various fields, from developmental biology to disease research. At the forefront of this transformative landscape is the Dovetail Pan Promoter Panel, a genomics tool designed to unravel the intricacies of gene regulation.
In this seminar, we invite you to embark on a journey into the world of regulatory genomics and explore the power of the Dovetail Pan Promoter Panel. Led by renowned experts in the field, this seminar will delve into the unparalleled capabilities of the panel and its potential to unlock the hidden secrets of gene expression.

Date: 30th August, 2023
Time:3:00 PM – 5:00 PM (Auckland, NZ)

Speaker 1: Professor Yasuhiro Murakawa
Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study (KUIAS)
Dissecting human disease pathways using high-resolution chromatin contact maps
Large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have yielded an increasing number of disease-associated genomic loci. However, the functional interpretation still largely remains unclear. Recently, it has become apparent that disease-associated genetic variants are often found within enhancers. Enhances act to strongly enhance the expression of their target genes in a cell-type specific fashion, by physically associating with their promoters. We have developed a 5’-end single-cell RNA sequencing approach to comprehensively map active enhancers from heterogeneous helper T cells. By integrating with GWAS datasets, we identified hundreds of human enhancers associated with autoimmune diseases. To gain important clues to human disease pathways, here we used Micro-C as well as promoter-capture Micro-C, methods that can analyze chromatin interactions with super-high resolution. We systematically identified target genes of these enhancers, revealing novel human disease molecular mechanisms. In sum, we provide a general framework to investigate molecular mechanisms underlying human diseases.

Speaker 2: Myriam Elkhawand, Customer Success Manager, Dovetail Genomics
Setting up the Dovetail® Pan Promoter Assay in the lab
In this second talk, Myriam will delve into the details of Dovetail Pan Promoter protocol and library quality control measures that play a pivotal role in assessing the success of the assay. She will discuss best practices in carry out the assay, library QC, emphasizing the importance of stringent quality standards for reliable data analysis. She will also share the analysis pipeline for Dovetail Pan Promoter panels.

Pan Promoter Webinar_30 Aug

Nanopore Day, Queenstown 2023 @ Queenstown
Aug 31 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Nanopore Day, Queenstown 2023

Date: Thursday 31st August 2023
Venue: Queenstown, New Zealand
Time: 9:00 – 17:00

Hear about the latest technical updates for Oxford Nanopore Technologies as well as talks from local scientists about their latest work using nanopore technology.

There will also be an opportunity to submit questions throughout the talks, which will be answered in the Q&A sessions following each presentation.

Please note that this is an in-person event.

There is no delegate fee for this event, but registration is required at

Your place at this event will be confirmed via email from

Nanopore Day, Queenstown 2023 @ Crowne II room, Crowne Plaza Queenstown Hotel
Aug 31 @ 11:00 am – 5:30 pm
The annual Metagenomics Summer School @ University of Auckland City Campus
Sep 5 – Sep 8 all-day

The Environmental Microbiomes team at Genomics Aotearoa is hosting the annual Metagenomics Summer School once more.

This practical, hands-on workshop focuses on prokaryotic metagenomics. It aims to guide learners through the process of analysing metagenomic sequence data, from metagenomic read sequences to curated metagenome-assembled genomes paired with downstream data analyses and visualisation in R. It also includes the following lessons:

Introduction to Bash shell and scripting (pre-workshop session)
Pragmatic considerations during experiment/sampling planning and decision-making (e.g., how much sequence data do I need? What are the approaches to analysing the data I have?)
Best practices in handling and processing metagenomic data
Viral genome prediction from metagenomic assemblies

This in-person workshop will be held at the University of Auckland, City Campus, from 5th to 8th September 2023. See our Metagenomics Summer School poster.

We invite learners of all bioinformatics skill levels to register their interest here.

Jian Sheng Boey
Genomics Aotearoa Bioinformatics Training Coordinator

Open symposium – molecular tools applied to molluscs @ Online
Sep 7 @ 12:00 pm – 1:40 pm

Join the Malacological Society of Australasia on September 7th, from 12 to 1:40pm (New Zealand time) for an enlightening open online symposium on molecular tools applied to molluscs! We will hear from AP Claudio González Wevar, AP Felipe Aguilera, and DP Hamish Spencer on the application of these tools to very different aspects of malacology. The symposium is free of change, just RSVP to receive a Zoom link. More information can be found on our website.


Intermediate R: Advance your skills with the R programming language @ Online
Sep 21 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

This online workshop is hosted by Genomics Aotearoa and NeSI and is for New Zealand researchers interested in progressing their skills with the R programming language.

This is an intermediate workshop, please check you meet the prerequisites: Attendees must have introductory knowledge of R and be well versed in tidyverse (Intro to R + supplementary materials in that workshop). We expect that you will either have completed our Introduction to R workshop or have sufficient experience of your own.

Some of the topics covered in the workshop are:

  • Introduction to relational data and the join function.
  • Working with regular expressions and functions from the stringr package.
  • Writing custom functions, working with conditional statements.
  • ‘Defensive programming’.
  • Iterations – for loops, and map_*() functions.
  • The importance of data structure in R.

Setup: This is a fully online, hands-on workshop. This workshop material will be run on the NeSI High Performance Computing (HPC) platforms – there is no need to install any software for this workshop. Instructions on how to access the NeSI HPC service will be sent out with the confirmation letter to registrants.

Participants must have their own laptops and plan to participate actively. You will require a working web browser.