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Short bio:
In 2011, Ruth became a veterinarian and started a PhD about fundamental research on the interaction of oocytes and cumulus cells in Belgium. After meeting two Japanese researchers on a conference, she decided to go for a post doc in Japan on oocyte cryopreservation. Since she felt the need to acquire complementary knowledge, she moved back to Belgium to specialise in genomics. All these specializations had in fact one purpose, to be able to work on the conservation of endangered species. That goal was reached by joining the Rhino Fertility Project In Oxford.

The northern white rhinoceros is functionally extinct with only two females left in the world. Advanced reproductive techniques are the only option for saving the species. The ovary contains a reserve of immature oocytes in primordial follicles. Establishing methods to grow and culture these oocytes in the lab would increase the chance of successful in vitro embryo production for endangered rhinoceros species. Moreover, in order to establish culture methods, the basic physiology of the ovary needs to be revealed. In addition to investigating adult ovaries, stillborn or neonatal samples can provide insight into the development of a rhinoceros ovary.