Future is: Jessica Gearing


In our new series “Future is…” everything revolves around the future.

“Future is” is the stage for our young talents who are completing their vocational training at Qualitas AG, expanding their practical know-how during or after their studies with an internship, writing their bachelor’s or master’s thesis with us or starting their professional careers.

The first in our “Future is…” series is:

Jessica Gearing

Internship Breeding Value Estimation

Tell us a little bit more about your study in ETHZ. What fascinate you the most?

When starting my MSc in Agriculture at ETH I already had a BSc in Animal Science where I largely focused on cattle nutrition. When I started my MSc at ETH I was very happy to learn areas of animal science that I had not been introduced to yet during my Bachelors.

Due to studying my BSc in England, most of my knowledge of livestock production was of UK production systems and I really enjoyed learning more about the Swiss production systems, especially for alpine farming.

Before starting at ETH, I had not had any introduction to genetics in an animal science context and while initially challenging, I found the lectures I had in animal genetics really interesting and made me want to pursue this interest further.

How did you get the idea to do an internship by Qualitas AG?

In my third semester of my MSc at ETH, I took the “Livestock Breeding and Genomics” course led by Peter von Rohr. This was my second course in genetics but from a different angle, looking at breeding value estimation. I really enjoyed this course and Peter mentioned that there was the possibility for students to complete an internship at Qualitas in a similar area of research.

I learn best in a practical environment so I have always wanted to get as much internship experience as possible during my studies in all my areas of interest. Therefore, as I did not have much experience in animal genetics but I really wanted to improve my knowledge and see everything I had learnt in my lectures be put into practical context, I thought that carrying out an internship at Qualitas would be a really great opportunity for me.

On what are you working now in Qualitas AG?

I am currently working on a project in Qualitas to calculate the economic values for carcass conformation, carcass fat covering and carcass weight traits in Natura-Beef and conventional beef fattening systems.

Initially the project started with a literature review and figuring out what information we had available and which model would be most appropriate for us to use for these calculations. Following this, I have been using a program called ECOWEIGHT for the calculation of economic values.

Currently we have values for different beef production models and the goal is to next look into using this program for beef-on-dairy systems.

What are you learning through your internship by Qualitas AG?

When I started my internship at Qualitas, I was not confident in using R. I now have a lot more knowledge and understanding in R and notice everyday how much easier it is getting for me to use. In addition, I am learning a lot about genetics and how it is put into practice in reality.

Through my project, I am gaining a lot of knowledge of the different Swiss production systems, the revenue streams and the costs that go into them. I am really enjoying also getting an insight into the more economical side of livestock production.

In addition to this, I have done a few presentations for my project at Qualitas and these have really helped me with my presentation skills. I will also present my project at EAAP conference in the summer and this will be a really great opportunity for me to further improve.

What are your hobbies?

As I originally come London, in my free time I try to make the most out of all the amazing nature that Switzerland has to offer and really enjoy exploring the mountains and lakes. I really enjoy hiking, cycling, kayaking and camping. I have recently also started to enjoy indoor climbing when the weather is not so nice.