Caroline “Ruby” Iacuaniello, M.S.

Research Associate

Caroline “Ruby” Iacuaniello serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Research Associate in Plant Conservation and the Center for Plant Conservation. As rare plant genetic samples are added to Plant Conservation’s collection, she is responsible for extracting the DNA and analyzing the genetic diversity between and within the plant populations. Her research interests include better understanding genetic diversity within plant populations, as well as examining how plants interact with other organisms in their ecosystem.

Currently Ruby is working with several rare species including the San Diego endemic, Dudleya brevifolia, and a South African cycad, Encephalartos latifrons, to assess genetic diversity within and structure among the populations. This information will be used for management decisions and will assist reintroduction efforts. She is also assisting with the development of a genetic sample repository, receiving and cataloging rare Baja samples in collaboration with the Natural History Museum.

Ruby earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology through the University of California, San Diego. Her Master’s thesis was focused on five mesopelagic fish families. Primarily she was interested in ascertaining the composition of their intestinal microbiomes. Additionally, she used isotopic C:N ratios to compare said microbial communities to the hosts’ trophic niche and she developed a diet study utilizing metabarcoding methods. In her free time Ruby enjoys being outside and can usually be found rockhounding or looking for mushrooms.