2021 SSR Distinguished Fellows

2021 SSR Distinguished Fellows

The SSR Distinguished Fellowship recognizes active SSR members for their outstanding contributions to the field of reproductive biology and to the Society, illustrated by sustained high impact research, leadership, service and mentorship.

The SSR Congratulates the 2021 Distinguished Fellows!

SSR Distinguished Fellows Press Release

Janice Bailey, PhD 

Janice_Bailey_.jpgJanice Bailey is currently the Scientific Director of the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature and Technologies (FRQNT), a government funding agency that supports academic research in Québec. The mandate of the FRQNT to develop and promote research activities to solve societal challenges and stimulate socio-economic development. In doing so, the FRQNT prioritises trainee support, interdisciplinary international collaboration, research partnerships, and diversity in its approaches.

Professor Bailey completed a PhD in animal reproduction at the University of Guelph and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the FRQNT, she was a professor of Animal Sciences & Research Associate Dean, Faculty of Agriculture & Food Sciences with an adjunct professorship in the Faculty of Medicine, Laval University (Québec City, Canada). Professor Bailey is a founding member of the Reproduction, Development and Intergenerational Health Research Centre, composed of researchers from the Faculties of Medicine and Food & Agricultural Sciences at Laval University. She was also Co-Director of the Quebec Reproduction Research Network, which included teams from six research-intensive universities in the province of Québec.

As an active scientist for over 25 years, her research explored the impact of the environment, such as toxicant exposure, temperature, and nutrition, on fertility, reproductive development and the ability to produce healthy offspring across multiple generations. She worked on a range of species, including bees, fish, agriculturally important animals, laboratory models and human studies.

Professor Bailey has served as Chair or member multiple grant review panels in Canada and the USA, including for NSERC, the CIHR, NIH and Agriculture & AgriFood Canada. She has also participated on the editorial boards of several journals, including the official Society for the Study of Reproduction journal, Biology of Reproduction. She has been involved in the organisation of numerous international congresses in Canada, the USA, Australia, Denmark and South Africa, and is currently Co-Chair of the World Congress of the International Society of Developmental Origins of Health & Disease. Over her career, she has been elected to executive governance roles in various national and international scholarly societies, notably as President of the Society for the Study of Reproduction. 

She has served numerous advisory roles, on the governing boards of research groups. She is currently a member of the expert panel for the Canadian Council of the Academies assessment on International Practices for Funding Natural Science and Engineering Research. She was an invited authority at the World Health Organisation Expert Meeting on Avoidable Early Environmental Exposures (2016). Other examples of her service include as a member of the assessment committee on Infrastructure for Agricultural Research for the Canadian Foundation for Infrastructure (2015), the advisory group on Mapping and Measuring Investments to Impacts in Agriculture Research for Agriculture & AgriFood Canada (2015), and to assist the Senatorial Committee on Forestry & Agriculture on the Necessity and Value of Research to Canadians: Current Challenges to Academic Researchers (2012-3). Professor Bailey has previously been honoured by the American Society of Andrology and the Canadian Society of Animal Science for her research contributions.

Fuller Warren Bazer, PhD 

Fuller_Bazer_.jpgDr. Bazer received the B.S., Biology, Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA, 1960; M.S., Animal Science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 1963; Ph.D. Animal Science (Reproductive Biology), North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, 1969.  His research in reproductive biology focuses on uterine biology, nutrition, and pregnancy with particular interests in mechanisms for pregnancy recognition signaling from conceptus to maternal system by molecules such as interferon tau and estrogen from ruminant and pig conceptuses, respectively.  His laboratory also studies transport proteins, regulatory molecules, growth factors, enzymes and nutrients secreted or transported into the uterine lumen to support conceptus development.  The endocrinology of pregnancy, especially the roles of lactogenic and growth hormones in fetal-placental development and uterine functions are being studied as are effects of endocrine disrupters on uterine biology and pregnancy.  The mechanism(s) of action and potential therapeutic value of conceptus interferons and uterine-derived hematopoietic growth factors are areas of research with both pigs and sheep as models for human disease.

John S. Davis, PhD 

John S. Davis is Professor and Director of Research and Development at the Olson Center for Women’s Health in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska.  Dr. Davis is also a Senior Research Career Scientist at the Omaha VA Medical Center.  He earned B.S. degrees (1975) in biology and chemistry from Minot State University, Minot, North Dakota; and an M.S. (1977) and a Ph.D. (1979) from the Department of Physiology at the University of North Dakota.  His postdoctoral research with Dr. John Marsh at the Endocrine Laboratory, University of Miami, propelled his fascination with the discovery and understanding of novel cell signaling mechanisms involved in follicular development and corpus luteum function.  In 1983 he joined the University of South Florida, Tampa, as Assistant Professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology where he worked closely with a group of endocrinologists.  In 1988, Dr. Davis returned to the “Great Midwest” to join the Women’s Research Institute at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and VA Hospital in Wichita, Kansas.  He has served in his current position at the University of Nebraska Medical Center since 2001.  He has maintained his affiliation and Department of Veteran Affairs for 30 years and was awarded the Senior VA Research Career Scientist designation in 2014.  He provides leadership for the training and research programs at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and VA. 

Dr. Davis’ research focuses on a number of interconnected themes ranging from fundamental reproductive biology, to animal science, and to women’s health research. His work in ovarian physiology, particularly on molecular and cellular signaling mechanisms, has provided new information on the mechanisms of action of the gonadotropins LH and FSH, prostaglandins, and growth factors involved in follicular development and the formation and regression of the corpus luteum.  His research on the bovine corpus luteum has contributed to current understanding of the role of small and large luteal cells, endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and immune cells as they impact the function and life span of the corpus luteum. His work on ovarian cancer has provided unique insight into novel mechanisms that contribute to the development of ovarian granulosa cell tumors and serous ovarian cancers.  Another line of research examines the effect of immunosuppressants on the ovary and uterus in women with solid organ transplants.  His research utilizes human, domestic animal, and rodent models. Dr. Davis is a strong supporter of collaborative research and mentoring junior investigators.  He is also is a strong advocate of graduate education and student mentoring, and is actively involved in training and mentoring programs on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus in Omaha and on the University of Nebraska campus in Lincoln.  His research has attracted support from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (USDA), as well as local and private sources. 

Dr. Davis has been an active member of the SSR since 1983.  He was elected to serve in the presidential chain (2016-2019) served as President of SSR in 2018 for the annual meeting held in New Orleans.  He has served the society as a member of the Program Committee (1997, 2004-08), Membership Committee (2002-04), Publications Committee (1994-95), Nominating Committee (1999-2001, 2019), Awards Committee (2004, 2012), Future Meeting Sites Committee (1989-90, 1992, 2006, 2008-2016), Local Arrangements Committee (2005-06), and Industrial Relations Subcommittee of the Development Committee (2006).  He has chaired the Publications (1995), Future Meeting Sites (1993, 2013-2016), and Development (co-chair, 2019) committees.  Dr. Davis was directly involved with the 2006 Local Arrangements Committee for the successful 2006 SSR meeting in Omaha.  He also served the SSR as Assistant Editor (1989-95) for our journal Biology of Reproduction, and later as Associate Editor (2004-08) and member of the Board of Reviewing Editors (2008-11). 

His appointments also include service on the Board of Directors for the Ovarian Workshops (1998-2004). He was the Scientific Director for the 2004 Ovarian Workshop held in Vancouver, BC.  Dr. Davis has served as a regular member of the NIH Reproductive Endocrinology Study Section (1994-98), the NIH Cellular, Molecular and Integrative Reproduction Study Section (2006-10), the VA Merit Review Panel for Oncology (2003-07), and he chaired of the American Cancer Society Tumor Biochemistry and Endocrinology review panel.  He has also chaired or served as an ad hoc member of many NIH, USDA, and NSF review panels.  Dr. Davis is an active member of the Endocrine Society, The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), the Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI), and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  He has served on and currently serves various editorial boards.  In addition to his academic experience, Dr. Davis served as an enlisted man and later as an officer in the Army and Army Reserve for over 25 years (retired in 2004).

Asgi Fazleabas, PhD 

Dr. Fazleabas received his BS degree from California State University, Fresno and his PhD in Reproductive Physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana - Campaign. Following his post - doctoral training in Reproductive Biology/Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida in Gainesville he joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he held the rank of Professor and Director of Women's Health and Reproduction until October 2009. He is currently a University Distinguished Professor and MSU Foundation Professor at Michigan State University and Associate Chair of Research in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology and Director of the Center for Women's Health Research and Co-Director of the Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Program at Michigan State University.

Dr. Fazleabas has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health in the USA since 1986 for studies using the baboon as a model for reproductive biology research. The work in his laboratory has significant translational relevance related to improved pregnancy outcomes in infertile women as well as understanding the etiology and the pathophysiology associated with the development of endometriosis. A significant area of his research emphasis has been to study the early events associated with maternal-fetal interactions during the establishment of pregnancy and the mechanisms by which these interactions are affected in women and non-human primates with endometriosis. His laboratory was the first to demonstrate that chorionic gonadotropin acts directly on the uterus in vivo and using this “simulated pregnancy model” went on to demonstrate that the early luteotrophic signal from the primate embryo is critical for initiating the decidualization response and remodeling the luminal epithelium to enhance trophoblast invasion. The baboon model of endometriosis that has been extensively used in laboratory has led to fundamental discoveries on the mechanisms by which the presence of endometriotic lesions impact uterine receptivity as well as understanding the early cellular and molecular events that contribute to lesion development and the pathophysiology of disease progression.

Amongst his many honors, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been a recipient of the Research Award, Distinguished Service Award and the Carl G. Hartman Award from SSR.

Michael D. Griswold, PhD 

Dr. Michael D. Griswold, Regents Professor of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University (WSU), is world-renowned for his contributions to our understanding of Sertoli cell structure and functions and the crucial role of Vitamin A in spermatogenesis and a loyal member of Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR). Mike received a B.S. in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wyoming. He conducted postdoctoral studies with Dr. Philip Cohen at the University of Wisconsin, funded by an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, working on amphibian metampophosis, and with Dr. Flauco P. Tocchini-Valentini in Rome, funded by an EMBO Fellowship, on Xenopus RNA. Mike spent a year as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He then spent two years as a Research Associate in the laboratory of Dr. Irving Fritz at the University of Toronto, where he acquired what would become a life-long interest in Sertoli cells. Mike joined the faculty of WSU in 1976 as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, was promoted to Associate and then full Professor, appointed Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in 1994, Director of the School of Molecular Biosciences in 1999, and Dean of the College of Sciences, a position he held from 2003-2010. Mike became a Regents Professor of Molecular Biosciences in 2008, and in 2011, received the WSU Eminent Faculty Award, the highest faculty honor at WSU.

Mike’s research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1977 (with the same grant “Hormonal Control of the Maturation of Sertoli Cells”), including a Research Career Develop Award (1979-1984) and MERIT Award (1997-2007). He has published more than 230 original scientific articles, book chapters, and review articles. His recognition in the field of Sertoli cell function and spermatogenesis is evidenced by his many keynote addresses that include the SSR President’s Symposium (1994 and 2007), Larry Ewing Lecture at Johns Hopkins University (2001), Andrew Nalbandov Lecture at the University of Illinois (1993), Asdell Lecture at Cornell University (2008), the Bailly Lecture at Southern Illinois University (2010), the Serono Lecturer at the Andrology Society (1994), and the Distinguished Faculty Address at WSU (1994). Mike received the WSU Sahlin Excellence in Research Award (1999) and the SSR Research Award (2006), and became an AAAS Fellow in 2009. In addition, he was the 2013 recipient of the Carl G. Hartman Award, one of the most prestigious award conferred by the Society for the Study of Reproduction.

Mike is an exemplary mentor. He trained 7 MS students, 24 graduate students that include Mike Skinner, Ken Roberts and Leslie Heckert, and 26 postdoctoral fellows and research associates that include Carlos Morales, Kwan Hee Kim, Carol Linder, Dereck McLean, and Cathryn Hogarth. Mike received the Frontiers in Reproduction Beacon Award in 2008 for his outstanding mentoring. One of his former students, Leslie Heckert wrote: “His high expectations returned dedication, creativity and independence from the members of his laboratory, which in turn produced a vibrant and exciting research environment. He led by example, support and occasionally by providing unsolicited words of encouragement...”.

Mike has unselfishly served his profession, SSR, the Andrology Society, and the Testis Workshop. He was a member of the SSR Board of Directors (1989-1992), SSR Annual Meeting Program Chair (1998), SSR President-Elect and President (1997-1999), Andrology Society Board of Directors (2000-2003), and Program Committee Chair for Testis Workshop (1993 and 2007) and Andrology Society (1996). He served the NIH on the Reproductive Biology Study Section (1983-1987, and continues to do ad hoc reviews for the NIH. Mike has also served as an Editorial Board Member for Endocrinology, Journal of Andrology, Biology of Reproduction, Endocrine Journal, Molecular Cellular Endocrinology, and Spermatogenesis.

Mike’s contributions to Sertoli cell physiology and spermatogenesis are impressive. His lab demonstrated in 1980 that vitamin A modulated Sertoli cell function, in 1987 that vitamin A altered Sertoli cell gene expression, and in 1987 in a landmark publication with Carlos Morales, that retinol induced synchronization of seminiferous tubules in vitamin A-deficient rats. The crucial role that vitamin A plays in regulating germ cell entry into meiosis is still being investigated today not only by the Griswold lab but also by many others in the field, including Kwan Hee Kim, Peter Koopman, and David Page. Moreover, Mike’s leadership role in this area is evidenced by his collaborative publications with John McCarrey, the late Lonnie Russell, Martin Dym, Bob Braun, Kate Loveland, David Zarkower, Marvin Meistrich, and Paul Cooke.

Mike’s lab pioneered microarray/gene profiling analyses of FSH-treated Sertoli cells, beginning in 2002, followed by analysis of spermatogonial stem cells, testis, seminiferous epithelium, epididymis, spermatogenesis, and embryonic development of the testis. These databases are freely available to the scientific community. The number of investigators across the world that have used these data bases is remarkable.

As evidenced from the comments above, Mike has been at the forefront of research in male reproductive biology for the past three decades. Leslie Heckert wrote: “His ideas, approaches, and results have enhanced our understanding of Sertoli cell and gamete function, improved animal models and methodologies for the study of spermatogenesis, and precipitated new concepts in testis biology, contraception and infertility. Because of Dr. Griswold, more is known about the role of retinoic acid in regulating meiosis and the cycle of the seminiferous epithelium, the actions of FSH and testosterone, Sertoli cell function, and the characteristics of spermatogonial stem cells.”

Peter J. Hansen, PhD 

Peter J. Hansen is a faculty member of the Dept. of Animal Sciences at the University of Florida, where has worked since 1986. He is currently a distinguished professor and L.E. “Red” Larson Professor of Animal Sciences. His research focuses on the biology of early pregnancy and development of methods to improve fertility and assisted reproductive technologies in cattle.  Particular emphasis is placed on elucidating pathways by which the mother regulates preimplantation development, minimizing effects of elevated temperature on fertility and identifying genes controlling embryonic survival and thermotolerance.  Hansen received the B.S. in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Illinois in 1978 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin in 1980 and 1983. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Florida from 1983-1984 before joining the faculty at Florida as an assistant professor in 1984. One of the most satisfying facets of his career has been participation in education of early- career scientists. He has mentored 46 graduate students, 15 postdoctoral fellows and 49 visiting scientists. 

Patricia Hunt, PhD

Dr. Hunt is the Meyer Distinguished Professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University, Pullman, WA.  She started her research career studying human chromosome abnormalities.  Her goal was to understand the high incidence of chromosomally abnormal eggs produced by human females and why the incidence is so strongly impacted by advancing maternal age.  She remains fascinated by this complex problem, but the accidental exposure of her mice to bisphenol A (BPA) in 1998 focused her attention on the effects of common environmental contaminants on reproduction. Her current research focuses on chemical mixtures and transgenerational effects of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals.  Dr. Hunt was named one of the top 50 researchers of the year by Scientific American in 2007, was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2015 and received the Hartman Award from the Society for the Study of Reproduction in 2018Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 25 years.  Dr. Hunt is particularly interested in science communication and is dedicated to ensuring that future trainees not only will be outstanding scientists but easily able to communicate their findings to the general public.

Martin M. Matzuk, MD, PhD 

Martin M. Matzuk, MD, PhD, is Director of the Center for Drug Discovery and Chair of the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). He graduated with a B.A. with honors in biology from the University of Chicago, earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University School of Medicine, performed residency training in clinical pathology at the University of Pennsylvania and BCM, and joined the BCM faculty in 1993. Dr. Matzuk is acknowledged for his interrogation of TGFβ superfamily, germ cell, and hormonal signaling pathways using functional genomics and chemical biology approaches and has published more than 370 papers. Dr. Matzuk has mentored over 50 trainees, received the 2015 Trainee Mentoring Award from the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), and produced numerous trainees who are productive members of SSR and leaders in the field of reproduction. Dr. Matzuk received the 2002 SSR Research Award, was the Scientific Program Organizer for the 2007 SSR Annual Meeting in San Antonio, was Treasurer of the SSR from 2009 to 2012, has given seven plenary lectures at SSR annual meetings and a Keynote lecture at the SSR meeting in Montreal (2013), and helped to financially setup two SSR endowments in honor of Drs. John Eppig and Bruce Murphy. Nationally, he is a member of the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council, is discipline chair of the National Academy of Sciences Animal Genetics and Physiology Section, and chaired the NIH CMIR study section. In addition to his SSR honors, Dr. Matzuk has multiple honors from The Endocrine Society, received the 5th International Fundacion IVI Award for the Best Basic Research Record in Reproductive Medicine, has given multiple named lectures internationally, and was awarded a prestigious NIH MERIT award. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and The Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas in 2014 and as a Fellow in the National Academy of Inventors in 2016. In 2020, Dr. Matzuk was Co-Editor of the Biology of Reproduction special issue entitled, Contraceptive Development: Past, Present, and Future.

Bruce D. Murphy, PhD 

Bruce D. Murphy was born in Denver Colorado.  He earned his BSc and MSc in biology and physiology at Colorado State University and was awarded PhD in reproductive biology from the University of Saskatchewan. He is currently a Senior Scientist in the Centre de recherche en reproduction et fertilité (CRRF) at the Université de Montréal.  Following his first academic appointment at the University of Idaho, he returned to Saskatchewan, where he founded and directed the Reproductive Biology Research Unit in the Department Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1991 he moved to the Université de Montréal as Director of the CRRA (predecessor of the CRRF) and served in that capacity until 2013. He has held visiting appointments at Cornell University, the Institute of Genetics, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Louis Pasteur University and the School of Biosciences, University of Melbourne. He chaired the Advisory Board of the Canadian Institute of Human Development and the CIHR Standing Committee in Reproductive Biology. He founded the Réseau Québécois en Reproduction (RQR), and served as its Director from 2008 to 2017. This network currently comprises more than 80 scientists and is supported by federal and provincial research agencies.

Dr. Murphy has devoted much of his career to service for the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), including serving as Treasurer from 2000-2009, and as President in 2015-2016. Dr. Murphy sits on the editorial boards of five journals and served as Co-Editor-In-Chief of Biology of Reproduction (BOR), 2009-2013. He is currently Consulting Editor of BOR. His laboratory has been continuously funded for studies of embryonic diapause and ovarian function since he began his career as an independent investigator. He is author of more than 250 scientific publications, and has been plenary and symposium lecturer at numerous international conferences. His many awards include the SSR Distinguished Service Award, Pfizer Award for Research Excellence, CFAS Award for Excellence in Reproductive Medicine, SRB Career Achievement Award, SSR Trainee-Mentoring Award and CRCQ Mentor of the Year Award. He was elected as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, to the Argentine Academy of Agricultural Science, as Profesor Honorario, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, and is Laureate of the Fonds du Québec. Dr. Murphy has trained more than 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows during his long career as a scientist, Many of his trainees have established their own successful laboratories in reproductive biology. 

JoAnne S. Richards, PhD 

JoAnne S. Richards obtained a BS degree from Oberlin College, a PhD from Brown University and did postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan. She is currently Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine where since 1981 she has conducted research in the area of the hormonal control of ovarian follicular development. Using molecular approaches and mutant mouse models she has identified key factors that control follicular development and ovulation.  Her laboratory is currently analyzing the roles of androgens and the androgen receptor in theca cells in relation to normal follicle growth and as a model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Her laboratory is also interested in the roles of steroids and mutant forms of the tumor protein 53 (p53) in ovarian cancer.  I have enjoyed working with many talented and wonderful colleagues, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, all of whom have contributed immensely to our ovarian research studies.

R. Michael Roberts, PhD 

R. Michael Roberts is a Chancellor’s Professor at the University of Missouri, with appointments in Animal Sciences and Biochemistry.  He is currently an investigator in the University of Missouri, Christopher S Bond Life Sciences Center. He gained his B.A. and D.Phil. in Plant Sciences from Oxford University, England, but since the mid 1970s has worked primarily as a reproductive biologist. Roberts’ is best known for his work on uterine secretions, and particularly the iron-binding acid phosphatase, uteroferrin, in the pig, and on how the early embryo signals its presence to the mother in ruminant species through the production of small proteins called interferons. More recently, Roberts has been studying the role of other unique trophoblast proteins in pregnancy and has (with colleague Jon Green) developed a pregnancy test for cattle that is in the process of being commercialized. He is currently studying specification of trophoblast as it emerges from pluripotent stem cells, generating induced pluripotent stem cells from swine for testing the efficacy and safety of grafts in a large animal model, and creating trophoblast stem cells by reprogramming differentiated somatic cells. Another project pertains to the role of maternal diet in regulating the sex of her offspring. His work is supported primarily through Federal Agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and also through Missouri State funds in support of agriculture. 

Dr. Roberts has published over 340 papers in refereed scientific journals and over 70 reviews and chapters in books. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1996, and has received several international awards, including the Milstein Prize for Research on Interferons and the Wolf Prize for Agriculture (2003). Dr. Roberts also received the Carl G. Hartman Award (2006) from the Society for the Study of Reproduction. Roberts was Chief Scientist with the USDA’s Competitive Grants Program (the National Research Initiative) from 1998-2000.  He also served on the National Research Council’s Committee that published recommendations to the Federal Drug Agency on concerns regarding the use of genetically modified animals for food (Animal Biotechnology: Science Based Concerns, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.) and chaired the NRC committee that investigated Animal Care & Management at the National Zoo. 

Marilyn Renfree, AO, FAA, FAIBiol, PhD, D.Sc. D.Sc (Hon) LLD (Hon.)

Marilyn is a reproductive and developmental biologist whose research has focused almost entirely on marsupials not only because of their intrinsic interest but also for the opportunities they provide as biomedical models for understanding mammalian reproduction and development (although elephants, women, sheep and mice have also had a look-in in her research career). Her laboratory is known internationally for its study of the reproduction and development of marsupials that have resulted in a number of discoveries that challenged the accepted dogma in several areas including early mammalian development, physiological and molecular control of embryonic diapause, placentation, sexual differentiation, virilisation and genomic imprinting as well as conservation and evolution and even bringing a gene from the extinct Tasmanian Tiger back to life! She has also been involved in genome studies of the platypus, koala, echidna and especially the tammar wallaby genome project. She is an enthusiastic mentor and was awarded the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers. Marilyn graduated from the Australian National University then had a Fulbright Fellowship at University of Tennessee and a Ford Foundation Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh then academic staff appointments at Murdoch University, an NHMRC Fellowship at Monash University before her appointment as the Ian Potter Chair of Zoology and Head of Department at The University of Melbourne from 1991 -2003. She was awarded an ARC Federation Fellowship 2003-8, was Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics from 2008-10 and was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in 2013. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences in 1997 and served as Vice President and Secretary, Biological Sciences from 2011-2015. She is currently a Laureate Professor of the University of Melbourne. She received the Carl G Hartman award of the SSR in 2019.

Lois A. Salamonsen, PhD 

Lois A. Salamonsen (PhD, 1987) is a Distinguished Scientist at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She was previously Head of the Centre for Reproductive Health and of the Endometrial Remodelling laboratory at the Hudson Institute.  Her >30 years of transformative research have provided scientific/clinical impacts in her field of endometrial function. Early studies in sheep/mice make her unusual in recognising the considerable species differences in events of embryo implantation. Using novel approaches and new models, she has addressed key issues in human endometrial remodelling, normal and abnormal uterine bleeding, endometrial receptivity and implantation with a strong focus on clinical problems. Her breadth of molecular studies included critical roles for matrix metalloproteinases, cytokines/chemokines, immune cells and most recently extracellular vesicles in endometrial function and embryo-maternal interactions for implantation.  Prof Salamonsen is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, honorary Fellow of the Australia and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Fellow of both SSR and the Society for Reproductive Biology (SRB) (Australasia). She was awarded the Founder’s lecture of SRB, the Beacon Award from Frontiers in Reproduction and a Lifetime Achievement award from the Faculty of Medicine at Monash University.  Lois is passionate about training and mentoring the new generation of reproductive scientists.  She is recognised as a ‘rare women at the top of her discipline’ who can guide young women through their special difficulties with life-work balance. Many of her PhD graduates and post-doc trainees now hold Professorial positions world-wide.  She has contributed to Societies (including President, SRB;  Co-program chair with Jon Hennebold for SSR; co-organiser with Joy Pate of the 1st International Congress of Reproductive Biology), and served on Editorial Boards (including Biology of Reproduction) and NHMRC Grant panels.

Thomas E. Spencer, PhD 

Tom Spencer is a Curators' Distinguished Professor in the Division of Animal Sciences and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. The long-term goal of his research program is to discover and understand key physiological and genetic mechanisms regulating development and function of the uterus and placenta and translate that knowledge to improvement of fertility in domestic animals and humans. His research in reproductive and developmental biology utilizes a number of different animal models (sheep, beef cattle, dairy cattle, mice) as well as human tissues. Broadly, current discovery foci of the program include understanding: (1) cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating gland development and function in the uterus using genetically engineered mice and sheep; (2) genetic pathways regulating fertility in beef cattle, dairy cattle, mice and humans; and (3) physiological pathways regulating pregnancy recognition and establishment using cattle, sheep and mice.

Spencer has a vigorous research and graduate education program that has earned several awards including: Society for the Study of Reproduction Research Award; American Society of Animal Science Physiology and Endocrinology Award; and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2019, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has published over 300 scientific articles, reviews and book chapters. His research is funded by active grants from the NIH (R01 and R21), USDA NIFA (Challenge, Dual Purpose, and Foundational), and Science Foundation Ireland.

Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD 

Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D., is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Michigan State University. She is an MSU Foundation Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Woodruff is an internationally recognized expert in ovarian biology and reproductive science. In 2006, she coined the term “oncofertility” to describe the merging of two fields: oncology and fertility. In addition, she championed the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy mandating the use of females in fundamental research.

As a leading research scientist, Woodruff was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring by President Obama in an oval office ceremony in 2011. Most recently, Woodruff was a recipient of the Endocrine Society’s 2021 Laureate Award, a top honor that recognizes the highest achievements in the field of endocrinology. She holds 13 U.S. Patents and is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2020), the National Academy of Medicine (2018), the National Academy of Inventors (2018), the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineers (2017), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006).

Woodruff earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology from Northwestern University and holds a B.S. in Zoology and Chemistry from Olivet Nazarene University.