Dr. Sofia Ortega (Class of 2003) is an Assistant Professor of Reproductive Physiology in the Division of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her group utilizes a systems biology approach to optimize cattle fertility. As a pioneer of the use of CRISPR knockouts to study preimplantation bovine embryo development. Dr. Ortega has published more than 17 peer-reviewed articles in top tier journals in the area of reproductive biology. She also makes important contributions to the advancement of animal and reproductive sciences as an Associate Editor of the CABI Agriculture and Bioscience Journal, as a reviewer for 8 scientific journals and through numerous national and international speaking engagements.
Dr. Ortega’s interest in reproductive physiology began at Zamorano, through her work in Honduras and continued into her graduate studies. She received a M.S. in Animal Sciences from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Florida in 2016 in Animal Molecular and Cellular Biology. Her dissertation, which explored the genetic basis of fertility and embryonic development in dairy cattle, was conferred the Graduate Research Award from the UF chapter of Sigma Xi. The emphasis of Dr. Ortega’s current research efforts is to optimize bovine early embryo development and dissect the molecular mechanisms involved in pregnancy establishment.