Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 20th

About Our Speakers

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Dr. Barbara Durrant

Dr. Barbara Durrant serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as the Henshaw Endowed Director of Reproductive Sciences. Her division studies reproductive biology, endocrinology, and behavior, and develops innovative methods to encourage species reproduction. In addition to gamete physiology and assisted reproduction studies in mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, her team conducts research in stem cell culture and transfer, endocrine disruption, and the development and validation of hormone assays for a wide variety of species. She currently mentors master’s and doctoral students studying reproduction in rhinos in South Africa, bison in Canada and kiwi in New Zealand. Germplasm cryopreservation is a major focus of Barbara’s research, with emphasis on the assessment of potential fertility of thawed sperm, ova, and embryos. In vitro oocyte maturation, fertilization, and embryo development are major areas of research. Applied research projects include artificial insemination and the hormonal induction of estrus, follicle growth and ovulation. Ultrasound and infrared thermography are used to assess cyclic ovarian dynamics and detect early pregnancy. Barbara earned her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, her master’s degree in Physiology and Genetics, and her doctorate in Reproductive Physiology from North Carolina State University. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Biology Department at San Diego State University and has written or contributed to more than 200 published articles, books, and presentations. She is an active member of the International Embryo Technology Society, having served as a board member, treasurer and chair of the Foundation board and Partners Committee. She reviews papers for a number of scientific journals and serves on the editorial boards of Zoo Biology and the newly launched Theriogenology Wild.

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Upcoming Meeting Dates!!


          Tuesday, Dec 6th


         Tuesday , Mar 14th

         Tuesday, June 6th

         Tuesday, Sept 12th

TIME: 5:30 cocktails

            6:00 start time

LOCATION: *Safari Park

                      15600 San Pasqual Valley Rd

                       Escondido, CA 92027

TOPIC: The ART of Saving Species

Generously sponsored by:


Carly Young serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Research Coordinator in Reproductive Sciences. In this role, her efforts are focused on the development of assisted reproductive technologies for threatened and endangered wildlife species. Her work includes in vitro oocyte maturation, in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in vitro embryo production, somatic cell nuclear transfer, and analysis and cryopreservation of sperm, oocytes, embryos, and gonadal tissues in birds, reptiles, and mammals. Carly’s current projects involve developing advanced embryo manipulation techniques to help save the northern white rhinoceros from going extinct. Her projects also include developing sperm cryopreservation protocols for the Argentine black and white tegu, Burmese python and the veiled chameleon as models for endangered lizards and snakes. In addition, she is optimizing techniques to improve feline immature oocyte vitrification. Carly earned her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, with an emphasis in Reproductive Physiology. Carly’s research career started at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, using her skills as an embryologist to develop disease models for drug discovery. Carly now uses her expertise as an embryologist to perform oocyte and embryo manipulation techniques to help save endangered species.

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        Elena Ruggeri

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Dr. Elena Ruggeri serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Scientist in Reproductive Sciences for the Northern White Rhino Initiative. Her role is to develop assisted reproductive technologies to help prevent the extinction of the northern white rhino. Her research interests are embryo development and epigenetic analysis for conservation of endangered species. Elena is also interested in comparative reproductive physiology and advanced embryo manipulation technologies that can be applied to the northern white rhino using biomaterials available at SDZWA. Elena received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Milano studying cat ovarian tissue cryopreservation and in vitro fertilization in the cow. She moved to the United States to pursue her doctorate degree in Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. Her dissertation was on equine reproductive physiology with her project focused on the effects of maternal aging on equine embryo development after intracytoplasmic sperm injection. After her doctorate, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF Medical Center, where she studied epigenetic changes in in vivo and in vitro produced blastocysts and sexual dimorphism in the mouse model. After a year as a human embryologist, she finally achieved her life dream of working in conservation with endangered species at SDZWA


Directions upon arrival:

*BECKMAN CENTER FOR CONSERVATION RESEARCH. They're expecting us! Parking is free. Go past the main entrance and pull up to Gate 8 of the Beckman Center.

Please make sure you go the SAFARI PARK and NOT the downtown Zoo. (Because, otherwise, you'll be sad and lonely because we won't be there.) :(