Marisa Korody, Ph.D.


Dr. Marisa Korody serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Scientist in Conservation Genetics.  In this role, she is working on the northern white rhino rescue project.  She works closely with collaborators at The Scripps Research Institute to optimize the production of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from banked rhino fibroblast cells in the Frozen Zoo® for potential use in assisted reproductive technologies.

Marisa started at SDZWA as a Research Associate, where she had the opportunity to work with both our cytogenetics and molecular genetics teams. In this role, she was responsible for establishing, growing, and freezing cell lines from native and endangered animals for banking in the Frozen Zoo®. Her molecular genetics work included paternity analysis, bird and mammal sexing, and species identification. Now she helps teach our Frozen Zoo® Cell Culture Seminars, in which participants learn cell culture techniques, enabling them to save living cells from endangered species in bio-banks around the world. Marisa also enjoys experimenting with sample preparations, new media combinations, and antibiotics for adding challenging amphibian cell lines to the Frozen Zoo®.

Marisa earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology from California State University, Northridge.  It was here that she developed her interest in research and conservation through field-based classes in entomology and behavioral ecology and an independent research project analyzing cricket courtship calls. She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from Indiana State University, focusing on differences in the behavior and genetics of the white-throated sparrow. This polymorphic species has chromosomal differences that are linked to behavioral differences, allowing her to examine the genetic basis for aggression, song, and promiscuity. It was this collaborative research, carried out with the Conservation Genetics team, that motivated Marisa to seek a career with San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.