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Furness College Lecturer to speak at international conference

A lecturer from Furness College has been invited to present her research at a specialist international conference this month.

Jenny Holden-Wilde, who lectures on the access to higher education course at Channelside, will attend the World Congress for Coloured Sheep conference in Italy.

Her research looks at the colours, patterns and genetics of Shetland Sheep and she partners with other experts in Germany and the USA. This year she has put her research on a more formal footing by becoming a postgraduate research student at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Mrs Holden-Wilde, who also leads the BTEC Applied Science programme at the Rating Lane campus, said the conference attracts people from around the world to share knowledge and research on coloured sheep and their wool.

“This conference is only once every five years and is very influential within its field - I’m honoured to have been invited as a guest speaker,” she said. “My work looks at the way the genetics of sheep affects their appearance meaning we can understand how to conserve diversity and breed for a particular colour of wool.”

As part of her research she is collecting 500 DNA swabs from Shetland Sheep here and abroad to see how the natural colours are produced. She is a qualified Shetland Sheep judge and inspector, which involves assessing sheep to see if they meet breed standards.

“I’m an ecologist by trade but I learned about breeding and pedigrees from a young age and I’ve been shepherding for 28 years. I’ve owned my Shetland flock for the past 13 years,” she said.

“Ultimately I hope my work will protect the ancient breeds of sheep for future generations.”

The conference includes participants from sheep and wool research fields, education, conservation, wool handcrafts, wool processing and marketing and takes place in Biella on 20-21st May.

Her work is supervised by the School of Forensic and Applied Sciences at UCLan.

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