Candace Williams, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Associate

Dr. Candace Williams serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Postdoctoral Associate in Reproductive Sciences. Candace is interested in the interplay of microbiomes and their animal hosts, specifically the role microbes play in the health of wildlife in our care.

Candace’s main research focus is the microbial ecology of the white rhinoceros. She is currently studying gut microbiomes and their role in phytoestrogen-associated infertility using microbiology, sequencing, mass spectrometry, and molecular endocrinology. Her work is highly collaborative, as this project includes researchers from the University of California, San Diego, Mississippi State University, South African National Park Service, Stellenbosch University, and the University of Vienna. Other projects explore the role of microbiomes in threatened species recovery following reintroduction, including the mountain yellow-legged frog, the Pacific pocket mouse, and the African elephant with Recovery Ecology and Population Sustainability. Candace also works closely with members of Nutritional Services and Veterinary Services to answer important questions regarding microbiomes and animal health. In addition to these tasks, she is a canine handler for the mountain yellow-legged frog Amphibian Research K9 team with her dog Darby.

Candace earned her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Mississippi State University, where she also received her master’s degree in Biochemistry and her doctorate in Molecular Biology with a minor in Statistics. Her graduate work in Dr. Ashli Brown’s Applied Biotechnology Laboratory focused on the microbial ecology of the giant and red panda, through both traditional and molecular microbiology and analytical chemistry, determining factors that shape the gut microbiome of these threatened species.