The Conservation Physiology Lab and National Amphibian Genome Bank is co-led by Dr. Carrie K. Kouba, Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Dr. Andy J. Kouba, Professor and Head of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University (MSU). The MSU Conservation Physiology Lab is the country’s premier academic wildlife physiology research unit working to solve contemporary problems facing zoos and aquariums related to sustainability, genetic management and reintroduction ecology.
Dr. Carrie K. Vance
Associate Research ProfessorResearchGate
Dr. Carrie Kouba earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University after obtaining a M.S. degree from California Institute of Technology and dual degrees in Chemistry and Mathematics from The Ohio State University. She joined the Biophonics research team at Mississippi State University in 2008 and the faculty in 2015. Currently she is an Associate Research Professor in the department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology. Her interests are in connecting concepts and techniques in biophysical chemistry with applications in endocrinology, reproductive and eco-physiology, nutrition, and disease to address issues in species conservation. She has worked with a variety of species including snow and Amur leopards, giant pandas, okapi, rhinoceroses, elephants, okapi, horses, cattle and numerous amphibians. Dr. Kouba curates the National Amphibian Genome Bank housed at Mississippi State University along with Andrew Kouba, but also continues to develop novel biophotonic approaches for non-invasive monitoring of animal physiology and health.
Dr. Andrew J. Kouba
Head and Dale H. Arner Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management
Dr. Andy Kouba received a dual degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and Zoology, from Northwest Missouri State University in 1991. He subsequently went on to receive his M.S. degree at Clemson University and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Florida. Upon finishing his graduate degrees, he conducted a post-doctoral fellowship at the Cincinnati Zoo from 1999-2001, where he conducted research on antelope, rhino and amphibian conservation. Then in 2001, he accepted the position of Director of Conservation and Research at the Memphis Zoo, Memphis TN. While at the Zoo, he led various research projects on polar bears, elephants, giant pandas, Chinese giant salamanders, anteaters, giant river otters, threatened amphibian species and created the country's first National Amphibian Genome Bank. His area of research intersects conservation physiology, ecophysiology, reproductive endocrinology and genetic management of threatened wildlife. In 2015, Dr. Kouba moved to his current position as Professor and Head of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University, where he also serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts.
At MSU, Mariana is testing NIRS in combination with chemometrics and aquaphotomics to generate the biochemical profile from animal and plant pathogens and diseases. Her ultimate goal is to provide the groundwork for a portable, fast, non-destructive, and accurate diagnosis tool capable of reducing the existing time necessary for illness detection.
Qingyu Sheng's research focuses on using NIRS techniques as a rapid, cost-effective, and non-destructive in-situ tool to solve problems concerning animal physiology and populations, including predicting diet quality, gender, and reproductive status of the giant panda and red panda.
Devin is interested in advancing conservation science applications to better help protect threatened and endangered species. Her research currently focuses on salamander conservation through the optimization of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Devin's dissertation work includes non-invasive hormone therapies and sperm cryopreservation that will be applied to at-risk caudate species.
Li-Dunn is interested in developing novel methods to evaluate factors relating to animal health and welfare. Chen’s current work is focused on predictive modeling, using NIRS coupled with endocrinology and ultrasonagraphy, to identify and assess physiological factors of biological sex and reproductive status in several amphibian species.
Isabella's work focuses on developing an optimum cryopreservation protocol for anurans, with the goal of applying these protocols to endangered species in order to increase population size, increase genetic variation, and link in-situ and ex-situ populations through genome banking.
Shaina's research focuses on using ultrasonography as a method of tracking follicular development in female amphibians with the aim of optimizing the efficiency of hormone protocols. She is also working on determining the optimum hormone protocol for inducing oviposition in female caudates in both in-situ and ex-situ populations.
Erin's research focuses on testing nasal hormone administration in female anurans, investigating alternative hormones, and improving in vitro fertilization in amphibians. The goal of her research is to optimize current ART’s and investigate new hormones and administration route options for application to other species.
Namia joined the lab January 2022 and is interested in developing conservation technologies, such as hormone therapy, in-vitro fertilization, ultrasound diagnosis and cryopreservation that assist amphibian captive breeding programs become more sustainable, genetically diverse and increase reproductive output to support reintroduction programs. She is particularly interested in zoo and aquarium science, education and leadership. Namia is supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) American Recovery and Rescue Plan Grant for training the next generation of professionals interested in living collections care and sustainability. She will be working with partners at the Fort Worth Zoo, North Carolina Zoo and Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.
We conduct research aimed at developing assisted reproductive technologies for at-risk amphibian species.
Congratulations to MSU undergraduate student and presidential scholar, Lindsay Culpepper, on winning first place oral presentation at the January 2022 International Embryo Transfer Society (IETS) meeting for her talk on impacts of different culture media during early embryonic development in amphibians. Lindsay is currently a Conservation Physiology Lab Undergraduate Research Scholar.