Marlys L. Houck, B.A., CLSp(CG)

Marlys Houck serves the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research as a researcher in the Genetics Division. In this position she manages the Cytogenetics Lab, overseeing daily sample acquisition, tissue culture, and karyotyping of cell lines accessioned into the Frozen Zoo®.

Marlys and her team have contributed thousands of viable frozen cell lines from mammalian, avian, reptilian, and amphibian species to the world- famous Frozen Zoo, and they are responsible for maintaining this irreplaceable collection. On-site cytogenetic analysis of these cell lines provides valuable information about sex determination, species/subspecies distinction, chromosome abnormalities, and genetic variation, and the cell lines are also provided to qualified researchers around the world for a vast array of additional studies. The cytogenetic team also compiles karyotypes on the majority of the cell lines and curates this accredited karyotype collection, the largest and most diverse of its kind.

Marlys joined the San Diego Zoo in 1987 as a laboratory technician with an emphasis on comparative cytogenetics of four rhinoceros species. She held several research positions in the Genetics Division at the San Diego Zoo before her promotion to researcher in 2000.

Marlys graduated from California State University, Fresno, with a bachelor’s degree in biology and soon after obtained certification as a Clinical Lab Specialist in Cytogenetics, CLSp(CG). She has authored or co-authored dozens of scientific and popular publications and given numerous presentations to professional groups and organizations about the Frozen Zoo and the ongoing research of the Genetics Division. She has mentored students from local institutions, colleges, universities, and zoos in the United States, Mexico, and Central America and is a member of the Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT).