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Rebecca completed a PhD on genes regulating early oocyte development at Monash Institute of Medical Research (Monash University) in 2008. During her post-graduate years, Rebecca also worked as a research assistant on several projects investigating genetic markers for bovine embryo development, epididymal markers of sperm maturation and DNA mutations related to male infertility in mice.
In 2008, she travelled to Washington DC to join the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and apply her skills to develop optimised assisted reproductive techniques in endangered felids. Rebecca worked primarily on assessing the impact of exogenous hormones (used during ovulation induction) on the quality of ovulated oocytes in the clouded leopard. She also had the opportunity to develop skills in reproductive endocrinology; artificial insemination; semen collection and cryopreservation; and oocyte aspiration, IVF and embryo culture in a variety of wild felid and ungulate species.
Rebecca joined Taronga as a research biologist at the Wildlife Reproduction Centre in 2013. Rebecca’s primary research interest is in cryobiology of non-mammalian sperm, such as coral and squamate lizards.
Rebecca plans to expand Taronga’s existing genebank reserves – the Taronga CryoReserve – as a vital resource for conservation managers and scientific researchers to increase basic knowledge of reproductive biology, cell physiology and genetics, and to develop breeding management tools to aid in the long-term preservation of ecological communities.