Oliver Ryder, Ph.D.

Director of Genetics, Kleberg Chair

Dr. Oliver Ryder serves the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research as Director of Genetics and Kleberg Chair. This position develops and utilizes technologies to provide important new insights relevant to the assessment, monitoring, and management of endangered species in captivity and in the wild.

Dr. Ryder’s research team undertakes cell culture and banking of cells, tissues, blood, and DNA in the Frozen Zoo®, chromosome preparation and karyotype analysis, molecular genetic analysis including automated DNA sequencing, and other advanced methods for studying genetic variation, sex determination, paternity analysis, and evolutionary changes between populations and species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Capacity building for and transfer of technology to countries with significant wildlife resources is an integral part of the division’s activities.

Dr. Ryder joined the San Diego Zoo in 1975 as a research fellow. In 1979, he joined the staff permanently as a geneticist. In 1986, he was awarded the Kleberg Chair in Genetics.

In 1968, Dr. Ryder was awarded a bachelor’s degree with high honors in biology from the University of California, Riverside, and in 1975 earned his Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. He is a recipient of numerous fellowships, grants, and awards, including the Bank of America-Giannini Foundation Medical Research Fellowship and the National Research Service Award, presented by the National Institutes of Health. The American Association of Zoo Veterinarians recognized Dr. Ryder with the Duane E. Ullrey Achievement Award for exceptional achievements in the science of animal health. In 2006, he was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his ongoing efforts to save endangered species.

Dr. Ryder is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Society of Human Genetics, the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Society for the Study of Evolution, and has served as president of the American Genetic Association. He has authored or co-authored more than 240 scientific and popular articles. He is an adjunct professor in the Division of Biology at the University of California, San Diego. He is often invited to make presentations to professional groups and organizations on a variety of conservation research topics.