Meet Heather Rogers

Written by Arin Oestreich (SSR Diversity Committee) in honor of Veterans Day

November 11th is Veterans Day where we recognize those who have served in the military and honor their dedicated commitment to strengthening our nation. To celebrate veterans within our society, Arin Oestreich (SSR diversity committee) interviewed Heather Rogers, a veteran and graduate student in Dr. Dawit Tesfaye’s laboratory at Colorado State University.

AO. What is your current position and research project?

HR. I am a Research Embryologist at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Lone Tree, CO, while simultaneously pursuing my Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. I am studying advanced maternal age (AMA)-associated cellular and extracellular molecular signatures in the follicular environment. To investigate how AMA affects the follicular environment, I will be utilizing human granulosa cells and extracellular vesicles isolated from human follicular fluid from young and AMA patients to identify miRNA that may play a crucial role during reproductive aging.

AO. What attracted you to the field of reproduction?

HR. My initial interest was to become a clinical embryologist after a developmental biology course early in my academic studies. Later, I attended a master’s program at Colorado State University that aims to prepare students for advanced education or a career in embryology. During this program, I realized I had a greater interest in research than clinical practice. I have a constant curiosity that can only be satisfied through research.

AO. Tell us about your military experience and how it has influenced your scientific career.

HR. I commissioned as an Air Force intelligence officer in 2009 and spent more than 10 years on active duty before I decided to transition careers and return to school. My military experience has led me to be detail-oriented, disciplined, and adaptable, with a strong work ethic and a strong sense of integrity and ethics. All of these attributes will be beneficial to me as I navigate my dissertation research.

AO. What are your long-term career goals after completing your PhD?

HR. I am early in my Ph.D. journey, so it’s hard to think about what’s next when I have so much more to do before then. However, I would like to continue my research after I complete my Ph.D. but focus more on the clinical applications of my research to improve IVF outcomes for AMA patients.

AO. What advice do you have to other students considering a PhD in reproduction?

HR. Reproduction is an exciting field to study, with new advancements every day. Take advantage of opportunities to network. I’ve learned the most attending professional conferences like SSR and talking to people at the forefront of this field. It is an environment rich for networking and collaboration opportunities. Ph.D. students should take every opportunity to learn and expand their skillset.

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