Dr Carolina Peñaloza will join Benchmark from Edinburgh University's Roslin Institute.

Benchmark hires Roslin scientist to lead molecular genetics program

Scientist will focus on genotyping of salmon, shrimp, and tilapia


Aquaculture breeding company Benchmark Genetics has recruited Dr Carolina Peñaloza as senior scientist in the company’s new molecular genetics program in Edinburgh.

Peñaloza joins Benchmark from Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute, where she has more than a decade of experience developing and applying genomic tools for aquaculture species.

The scientist will lead the development of the molecular genetics program which aims to optimise genotyping and other genomics solutions for Benchmark’s salmon, shrimp, and tilapia breeding operations. This will support more efficient genomic selection and increase genetic gain for target production traits.

In addition, Peñaloza will lead the expansion of the genotyping and genomics offering to external clients as part of Benchmark Genetics Services. She will also develop R&D activities targeting future solutions in this field.

The ideal person

Benchmark Genetics innovation director Dr Ross Houston, who led several aquaculture genetics at Roslin before joining Benchmark, said: “Carolina’s impressive track record of molecular genetics and bioinformatics in aquaculture species makes her the ideal person to take this role.

Ross Houston: Peñaloza appointment significantly strengthens capacity to design and apply cost-effective genomic tools for aquaculture species.

“Her appointment significantly strengthens our capacity to design and apply cost-effective genomic tools to support the genetic improvement of aquaculture species.”

Peñaloza, who is from Chile, holds an MPhil and PhD in Genetics and Genomics, both from Edinburgh University, and has held several research positions, including postdoctoral roles at Roslin.

Before joining Benchmark, she was involved in multiple national and international aquaculture research projects. She has designed and tested two successful and widely-used SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) arrays – a combined-species sea bass and bream array and a Nile tilapia array. SNPs are genetic variations, and SNP arrays can used to track genetic traits.

Academia and industry

Peñaloza has also worked on expanding key genomic resources for the main aquaculture species. She has built strong links with academia and industry partners through her leading role in designing and implementing molecular solutions in large-scale genetics projects, said Benchmark.

Peñaloza said: “I am excited to join Benchmark Genetics and keen to start building up the new Molecular Genetics programme to apply the latest genomic technologies into commercial practice.

“I have a strong background in designing and developing technologies for high-throughput genotyping, and I look forward to contributing and being part of Benchmark’s global team of experts working on applied aquaculture genetics programmes.”