The International IVF Initiative - i3

Session 78: I3 GOES MAVERICK

International IVF Initiative

Session 78: I3 GOES MAVERICK

Session 78: I3 GOES MAVERICK

Tuesday 5th October, 2021. 3PM EST/ 8PM GMT / 9PM CET

The Maverick Reproductive Biologists take over the International IVF Initiative's webinar this week!
A coup d'état roundtable discussion by the elusive "Mavs" discussing  lab techniques and embryologists' issues with questions from you!

Dr. Gerry Celia
Dr. Liesl Nel-Themaat
Dr. Mara Simopoulou
Ashley Wong
Dr. Betsy Cairo
Huey Huynh
Dr. Michael Baker
Salustiano Ribeiro
Dr. Bryan Kloos 
Dr. Sheela S. Ali

This Session is Organised by the "Maverick Reproductive Biologists" Facebook Page


Dr. Gerry Celia is Associate Professor and Clinical Laboratory Director for the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Division of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He has also been the Clinical Laboratory Director for Dominion Fertility and Endocrinology in Arlington Virginia for over 10 years, and manages a small consulting.
Gerry received his Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut and his PhD in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Vermont. He began his clinical career in 2005 and has been an active member of the ART community since, serving as president of both the College of Reproductive Biologists (2016-17) and the Society for Reproductive Biologists and Technologists (2018-19). If it actually existed (which can’t be proven), Gerry would also be considered a founding member of the Maverick Reproductive Biologists group. He is motivated by a desire to connect people and remove barriers which limit both growth – individually and as a community - for the benefit of our industry and of our patients.
In his spare time Gerry and his wife breed and raise Warmblood Dressage horses, run, snowboard, surf (terribly), scuba dive, sail, and chase their 5yo son around.


Liesl Nel-Themaat, Ph.D., HCLD, is a certified High-complexity Clinical Laboratory Director and Technical Supervisor with a specialty in Embryology by the American Board of Bioanalysis.
She earned her undergraduate degree in agriculture (physiology and biochemistry) from the University of Stellenbosch. As her next move, Dr. Nel-Themaat left her native South Africa to pursue her Doctor of Philosophy in animal reproductive physiology from Louisiana State University. During her Doctoral studies, Dr. Nel-Themaat was a Graduate Research Assistant for the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species where she worked in assisted reproductive technologies in various exotic species. Her research included intergeneric nuclear transfer cloning for use in conservation and she managed the Frozen Zoo biomaterials resource bank, a collection of cell lines from endangered species as an insurance against extinction. After graduating with her Ph.D., Dr. Nel-Themaat did a postdoctoral fellowship and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, where she continued her studies of the reproductive system using transgenic animal models.
All her zoology-based groundwork laid the foundation for Dr. Nel-Themaat’s expertise in embryology, andrology, and endocrinology. Since joining the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine in 2017, she has not only been a key player in all lab activities, but also participates as faculty for the REI Fellowship Program.
Over the course of her career, Dr. Nel-Themaat has contributed to dozens of professional publications, covering topics such as development of new technologies for use in the reproductive lab, cryopreservation of sperm, embryos and eggs, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and diminished ovarian reserve. She is an active member of professional organizations including the American Board of Bioanalysis (ABB), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Colorado Association of Reproductive Technologists, College of Reproductive Biologists (CRB), and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SRBT) where she is the president elect. Dr. Nel-Themaat is among the founding members of the International IVF Initiative (i3), a non-profit global educational project for the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) community.
Today, Dr. Nel-Themaat is the IVF Lab Director for SGF Colorado. When she is not overseeing the labs, you can find Dr. Nel-Themaat outdoors running, snowboarding, mountain biking, and scuba diving. She is also currently working on her Executive MBA.


Dr. Mara Simopoulou is an Associate Professor of Physiology-Embryology at the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Institute for Women’s Health, UCL. She is a Geneticist as well as an ESHRE Certified Senior Clinical Embryologist. Professor Simopoulou serves as an Auditor for International Accreditation, inspecting IVF Units with a specialization on International Patient Healthcare. Her research activities focus on novel In Vitro Fertilization Practices, and on the Physiology of the Preimplantation Embryo. She has a special interest on Medical Education and is the Scientific Director of the “Advanced Course in Clinical Embryology”. She is representing Greece at the International Fertility Education Initiative. Dr. Simopoulou enjoys collaborations on an academic level with University Departments worldwide. She has published more than 80 research articles. While balancing her clinical, research and academic activities, her personal mission is to help infertile couples achieve their reproductive goals.

Dr. Mara Simopoulou is an Associate Professor of Physiology-Embryology at the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens who is personally invested in medical education, research and forming and testing the “right” hypotheses. Upgrading clinical embryology practice, training and identifying ways to ascertain quality and high standards is her mission. Personal aim: Learning to feel comfortable when leaving her comfort zone.


Ashley earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science from the University of Minnesota and a Technical Supervisor Certification from American Association of Bioanalysts. She is a member of ASRM, College of Reproductive Biology (CRB), and Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists (SRBT). Her initial training included large animal IVF and systems development. After graduation in 1999 she began working in the human embryology field.
Ashley has worked in varied embryology settings in her career including a single physician practice, a large hospital based system and per diem care. This broad range of experiences has shown her that each system is unique and has challenges and successes. She loves to teach and train and introduce new people to the field.
Ashley works for Kindbody and lives in Minnesota with her husband, three kids and her dog. The love and joy she receives from her family is what inspires her to work with couples to create their own family.
sident in Obstetrics and Gynaecology twice in this period (2000-2004).
Graduated with Honours from Medical School at Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico (1998)


Betsy Cairo PhD, HCLD, CSES is a Reproductive Biologist and is the founder/owner and director of CryoGam Colorado, the only cryobank in Colorado. She also taught graduate and under- graduate courses at University of Northern Colorado(1995-2017). Dr. Cairo’s experience in the field and classroom have fueled her passion and created a vision for educating Colorado’s youth, its educators and its communities about reproductive health. Dr. Cairo is a board certified Reproductive Biologist from the American Association of Bioanalysis as a High Complexity Clinical Laboratory Director (HCLD). She is also certified as a supervisor by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapist (CSES).


Huey pursued his undergraduate and graduate work in Biological Sciences and Developmental Biology at Temple University. In addition, he earned a master of science degree at the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in health education. He received micromanipulation (ICSI and AHA) training at the Jones Institute of Reproductive Medicine, in Norfolk, VA.
In addition to his responsibilities as an embryologist, Huey was an active participant in FDA clinical trials and ongoing research studies and served as a consultant to both colleagues throughout the country and to several biomedical companies. Huey excels in improving the protocols and preimplantation environment of the IVF laboratory such that the highest level of patient care can be offered.


Dr. Michael Baker majored in Genetics at Texas A&M University and obtained his Ph.D. in Reproductive Biology from U.T. Southwestern Medical Center. Michael worked closely with the nationally renowned Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility fellowship program at UT Southwestern to gain a unique perspective for an embryologist. Michael completed his embryology training at one of the largest IVF clinics in all of Florida while managing a team of ten exceptional embryologists. Dr. Baker is certified by the American Board of Bioanalysts as a Technical Supervisor in Embryology and as a High-complexity Clinical Laboratory Director. In 2020, Dr. Baker was elected as President of the Colorado Association of Reproductive Biologists, a regional professional organization dedicated to continued education and improvement of fertility treatment across the state of Colorado. Dr. Baker currently serves as the Clinical Laboratory Director at Aspire San Antonio, as well as off-site director for Aspire Dallas and Denver Fertility.


Salu is a Senior Embryologist at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), and currently the President of the College of Reproductive Biology (CRB), and Chair of the nominations’ committee at the Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists (SRBT). He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology from the University of California at Davis. Upon completion, Salu joined the IVF Lab at the Reproductive Science Center (RSC). During the years working at RSC, Salu continued his studies and received his Master’s degree in clinical Embryology and Andrology from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Salu then joined the UCSF IVF lab where in addition to his daily embryology duties, he is pursuing several of his research interests such as artificial intelligence, microfluidic technology, and transgender reproductive health in IVF. In addition, Salu has co-authored a chapter in Reproductive Biology (Yen & Jaffe's Reproductive Endocrinology, 8th Edition) with his fellow IVF Laboratory members which is currently used as a didactic learning material for UCSF School of Medicine. Salu has participated in several advisory board memberships and is currently an active board member of Northern California Association of Reproductive Biologists (NCARB), College of Reproductive Biology (CRB) – Legislative Committee Member, AAB Board of Registry, AAB Associate Member Section, and West Africa Village Education (WAVE).


Dr. Bryan Kloos PhD, HCLD is the Laboratory Director at Park Avenue Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, Hudson Valley Fertility and Androvia LifeSciences. Dr. Kloos received his BS from University of Vermont and his PhD from Mount Sinai Graduate School of Biological Sciences. Dr. Kloos is a High Complexity Laboratory Director (HCLD) with over two decades of experience helping couples achieve pregnancy by using advanced fertility techniques. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, skiing and hiking.


Sheela Ali has been a part of human IVF since 2008. Since then, she completed her master's degree in Clinical Embryology and Andrology at the Jones Institute of Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2013 and her PhD in Developmental Biology from the University of North Texas in 2018. During her graduate studies, her research focus was on E-Cadherin and its role in trophectoderm grafts from sibling embryos as well as the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and predictive modelling to aid in identification of critical values in IVF treatments. AI application in IVF would allow for efficient real-time aid in the clinical decisions process for factors such as maximum allowable gonadotropin doses to optimize outcome. She is certified as a High Complexity Laboratory Director, Technical Supervisor and Clinical Consultant by the American Board of Bioanalysts. She has served as an inspector for College of American Pathologists (CAP) and has experience as a Clinical Consultant. She has served as a panelist for NASA's space biology research program as well as worked with the United Nations as an expert reviewer for proposals submitted related to the PCR testing platforms for SARS-CoV-2. She is currently the Laboratory Director for IVF laboratories in Frisco, TX and San Francisco, CA. She has published several abstracts and continues to publish in peer review journals. She has served as a scientific advisory board member for College of Reproductive Biology (CRB) and EmbryVu genetics laboratory. She enjoys traveling and discovering different cultures as the time allows.

Close (esc)


Members get free stuff and can stay up to date with the latest sessions from I3.

Become a Member

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now