Pei-Chih Lee (李佩芝)
Smithsonian's National Zoological Park
Year zoo career began:
Pei-Chih works as a reproductive biologist at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo where her position focuses on developing new techniques to preserve the genetic materials for rare and endangered species. On a daily basis, she completes research using domestic cats as a model species to understand basic feline cell biology and reproductive biology, providing information that can be utilized to develop and improve assisted reproductive techniques. Pei-Chih also assists with maintaining the National Zoo’s genome resource bank. She helps with semen collection and artificial insemination of live animals, including giant pandas and Amur tigers, and with preserving reproductive tissues and cells from animals after they have died. She believes that these cryopreserved collections will be great resources to study and sustain biodiversity.
Pei-Chih was born in Taiwan and earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in molecular medicine from National Taiwan University. She moved to the United States to pursue a doctoral degree at Northwestern University, where she studied molecular regulations during embryo development and earned her PhD in 2012. Pei-Chih began exploring different job opportunities and was excited to join Smithsonian’s National Zoo as a post-doctoral fellow in the same year. She finds the position a perfect fit that combines her expertise in molecular and cellular biology and her passion in conservation. She stayed on as a reproductive biologist in the same department.
Pei-Chih believes that there are many career paths to contribute to conservation and advises others that would like to become a conservation scientist to begin exploring different careers early. She has also trained and mentored many young scientists from diverse backgrounds on reproductive sciences. Pei-Chih’s favorite animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are red pandas, because they are very playful and adorable, and tigers, because they are so majestic and beautiful.