Parker Pennington, Ph.D.
Dr. Parker Pennington serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a Postdoctoral Associate in Reproductive Sciences. In this role, she is working with the northern white rhino initiative. Her research interests include the reproductive physiology of ungulates, particularly the adaptation of reproductive techniques used in domestic animal management to endangered species in zoos and breeding centers.
Parker is studying white rhinoceros reproductive physiology with a focus on developing assisted reproduction techniques to prevent the extinction of the northern white rhino. Her main goal is to work closely with the six southern white rhino females at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center. Specifically, she works to develop and implement techniques such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer as well as correlate real time ultrasonography with hormone profiles to gain a better understanding of normal cyclicity and pregnancy in rhinoceros species. Parker also helps to develop working relationships with collaborators both domestically and internationally.
Parker earned her bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences and her master’s degree in Reproductive Physiology from Louisiana State University, studying the common eland estrous cycle under Dr. Robert Godke. After working at Tulane University for two years, Parker began her doctoral program with George Mason University and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute as a Challinor Fellow under Dr. Elizabeth Freeman (George Mason) and Dr. Budhan Pukazhenthi (Smithsonian). Her dissertation investigated the influence of reproductive status, metabolic status and diet the on uterine fluid proteome of domestic and endangered equids. At San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, she is continuing her training with hoofstock reproductive physiology in the fight to save species.