Elena Ruggeri, Ph.D.


Dr. Elena Ruggeri serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Researcher in Reproductive Sciences for the Northern White Rhino Initiative. Her role is to develop assisted reproductive technologies to help prevent the extinction of the northern white rhino. Her research interests are embryo development and epigenetic analysis for conservation of endangered species. Elena is also interested in comparative reproductive physiology and advanced embryo manipulation technologies that can be applied to the northern white rhino using biomaterials available at SDZWA.

Elena received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Milano studying cat ovarian tissue cryopreservation and in vitro fertilization in the cow. She moved to the United States to pursue her doctorate degree in Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. Her dissertation was on equine reproductive physiology with her project focused on the effects of maternal aging on equine embryo development after intracytoplasmic sperm injection. After her doctorate, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF Medical Center, where she studied epigenetic changes in in vivo and in vitro produced blastocysts and sexual dimorphism in the mouse model. After a year as a human embryologist, she finally achieved her life dream of working in conservation with endangered species at SDZWA.