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Diana Koester

Postdoctoral Fellow
B.S., Ohio State University; Ph.D., George Mason University

Diana Koester is a postdoctoral fellow for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) within the Center for Species Survival. Koester is most interested in improving the management and reproduction of managed collections of threatened and endangered carnivores. Currently, she is working on improving artificial insemination success in cheetahs and clouded leopards to produce genetically valuable cubs without the stress and danger of moving animals. Koester is also applying cutting-edge molecular techniques to develop new, much needed pregnancy diagnosis methods for cats and other carnivores, since these species can hide a developing pregnancy until just before birth.

Koester is a 2015-2016 JoGayle Howard Post-Doctoral Fellow in felid reproduction and has served as an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University teaching human anatomy and physiology. Her work has provided vital support for the recent implementation of a management policy that moves older, genetically valuable cheetahs out of urban zoos and into spacious, breeding centers to provide an environment conducive to reproduction. Since starting her postdoc, Koester has also been trained on the newest techniques for laparoscopic artificial insemination in cheetahs, domestic cats, clouded leopards, and black-footed ferrets.
Koester completed a Bachelor of Science in 2008 at Ohio State University, where she conducted research focusing on the effect of developmental hormones on adult reproductive behavior. This work quickly made Koester realize her love for reproductive research, as well as her need to shift her focus toward conservation efforts of threatened and endangered species. Her doctoral research with cheetahs cemented her long-held affinity for studying carnivores. She now strives to improve the reproductive management of those carnivore species that have proven the most difficult to sustain ex situ.

Projects