Research Team

Research Team

SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center

RESEARCH TEAM



Vice President of Theriogenology: Todd Robeck, DVM, PhD
Scientific Director: Justine O'Brien, BScAgr, PhD
Laboratory Manager/Research Associate: Karen Steinman, BS
Research Associate: Gisele Montano, DVM, MS
Research Technician: Jacqueline Posy, BS, MS
Research Technician: Angela Ho, BS
Research Technician: Amanda McDonnell, BS

masthead-team-02

L to R: A. Ho, Dr J. K. O'Brien, Dr. T. R. Robeck,
Dr. G. A. Montano, K. J. Steinman, and J. L. Posy


TODD ROBECK, DVM, PHD

Dr Todd R. Robeck
B.S., D.V.M., Ph.D, (Texas A & M)

Vice President of Theriogenology, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Dr. Robeck started his career with marine mammals as a marine animal trainer at Sea-Arama Marineworld in Galveston, while working toward a BS degree which he obtained in 1985 (Texas A&M University). In 1985, began pursuing his Ph.D. in Reproductive Physiology at Texas A&M University. In 1987, while in graduate school he began working with SeaWorld on reproductive research in the killer whale. While continuing his research with killer whales, he began veterinary school in 1988. After finishing his preliminary exams for his Ph.D. in 1993 (Ph.D thesis entitled: Defining Basic Reproductive Physiology, Including Reproductive Anatomy, Reproductive Endocrinology and Estrus Induction of Captive Delphinids) he began working for Sea World San Antonio as a veterinarian and Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC) as a reproductive physiologist. He graduated with his Ph.D. in 1996 and in 2000 began working full time with BEC in his current position. In 2006, Dr Robeck co-supervised the completion of the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center (SWBGRRC) in San Diego California. He has been the principle or co-principal investigator in developing the first successful methodology for artificial insemination in the killer whale, bottlenose dolphin, Pacific white-sided dolphin and the beluga, as well as the birth of the first pre-sexed zoological species, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Dr Robeck is responsible for the development and application of assisted reproductive technology (ART) to the animal collection at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, and coordinates ART programs among numerous aquaria worldwide. Dr. Robeck is a member of the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine, the European Association for Aquatic Mammals, and the International Embryo Transfer Society.

JUSTINE O'BRIEN, BSCAGR, PHD

Dr Justine K. O’Brien
B.Sc.Agr.(Hons), Ph.D. (Sydney)

Scientific Director, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Dr O'Brien completed a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Sydney (USyd) in 1993 and was awarded a PhD from the Faculty of Veterinary Science in 1998 for her thesis on the production of offspring from pre-pubertal livestock using in vitro fertilization techniques and sperm sexing technology. During 1997-1998 she completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife where she gained specialist knowledge in coordinating and conducting conservation-based research programs in a zoo setting. She undertook a second Postdoctoral Fellowship at the USyd during 1999-2003 in collaboration with Taronga Zoo, developing sperm sexing technology for endangered primates. In 2003, Dr O’Brien commenced collaborative research with SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, and in 2006, co-supervised establishment of the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center (SWBGRRC) in San Diego, California, with Dr Todd Robeck. Since 2006, Dr O’Brien has worked as the Scientific Director of the SWBGRRC, focusing on assisted reproductive technology development and application, for managing and conserving marine and terrestrial wildlife. Such research lead to the birth of the first pre-sexed zoologically managed species, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Dr O’Brien holds an Honorary Research Associate position with the USyd’s Faculty of Veterinary Science, is an Adjunct Member of the Graduate Faculty, Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology, Texas A&M University, and supervises PhD and Masters’ candidates. She is also co-chairperson of the Regulatory Subcommittee of the International Embryo Transfer Society’s Parent Committee on Companion Animals, Non-Domestic and Endangered Species (CANDES), and Reproduction Co-advisor for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Rhino Research Advisory Group. Dr. O’Brien is a member of the AZA, International Embryo Transfer Society, International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine, and the European Association for Aquatic Animals.

KAREN STEINMAN, BSC

Karen Steinman
B.S. (UCSD)

Research Associate and Lab Manager, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment
Karen Steinman earned her B.S. degree in 1996 at the University of California, San Diego. During 1998 to 2002 she worked at the San Diego Zoo’s Center for Research of Endangered Species, initially as a laboratory assistant, and then as a Senior Research Laboratory Technician & Research Fellow. Karen was employed by SeaWorld as a biological technician based at the Department of Reproductive Sciences, Conservation and Research Center, Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, during 2002 to 2006. Since 2006, Karen has worked as a research scientist and lab manager of the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center. Through these positions, Karen has attained specialist experience in radioimmunoassay and enzyme immunoassay techniques across a wide range of marine and terrestrial species, and oversees the center's intern training in this discipline. She coordinates the center’s mobile hormone assay monitoring system, which has been instrumental in the successful application of artificial insemination and sperm sorting technology to ex situ bottlenose dolphin management and conservation. Karen is also undertaking a Masters degree in beluga reproductive physiology (George Mason University), and is a member of the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine and the International Society of Wildlife Endocrinology.

GISELE MONTANO, DVM, MS

Gisele A. Montano
D.V.M. (UNAM)
M.S. (Texas A&M)

Research Associate, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment
Dr Gisele Montano Pedroso earned her veterinary degree in 2007 at the University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico. Whilst studying for her MVZ degree, Dr Montano assisted with dog and dolphin semen research projects (University of Mexico) and completed work experience at various small animal veterinary clinics in Mexico City. In 2010, Dr Montano was awarded an MS degree in Physiology of Reproduction at Texas A & M University. Her Masters research, conducted in collaboration with the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, lead to an improved understanding of dolphin sperm function after cryopreservation, sex-sorting and re-cryopreservation. Such knowledge will enable optimized use of cryopreserved, sex-sorted, re-cryopreserved samples in national and international bottlenose dolphin artificial insemination programs. Dr Montano is currently a research associate at the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, focusing on in vitro embryo technologies in cetaceans, and is also a research consultant with Dolphin Adventure (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico). She is a member of the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine and the International Embryo Transfer Society.

JACQUELINE POSY, BS, MS

Jacqueline L. Posy
BS (Hon)
MS (MSU)

Research Technician, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment
Jacqueline Posy earned her B.S. degree majoring in Biology (2006) and a Masters degree in molecular biology (2008) at Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey. Jacqueline held a research associate position at the Center for AIDS Research in the School of Medicine at New York University during 2008-2011. In this position, Jacqueline assisted with HIV/AIDS clinical trials studying cell function with focus on immunology, and used several types of fluorescence activated cell sorters. Since June 2011, Jacqueline has worked as a research technician at the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center where she operates and maintains state-of-the-art sperm sorting equipment, for use across a wide range of wildlife species. Jacqueline also monitors and coordinates laboratory quality control procedures, biological sample inventory and assists with all facets of the center’s research and routine activities.

ANGELA HO, BS

Angela Ho
B.S. (UCSD)

Research Technician, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment
Angela Ho earned her B.S. degree in Pharmacological Chemistry (2008) at the University of California, San Diego. Angela served as a volunteer to the UCSD Student Health Center and the UCSD Medical Center during 2007-2008. Since 2009, Angela has worked as a research technician at the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center where she conducts enzyme immunoassays, gamete banking and sample inventory processes. Angela also assists with other facets of the center’s research and routine activities including artificial insemination procedures, specialist specimen shipping and intern training. She is a member of the American Chemical Society Student Associates, and the Chinese American Student Association.