Biography of Disaster in the Gulf’s Dr. Ilze Berzins

Ilze K. Berzins is Executive Vice President for Animal Health, Conservation, Research and Education at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.   With her expert team, she is responsible for the health of nearly 32,500 animals, for the development and implementation of numerous conservation and research programs, and the learning experiences for over 450,000 students and 2 million aquarium visitors annually.

Prior to her position at the Shedd Aquarium, she was the Vice President of Biological Operations and Veterinarian at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida.  She was with the Aquarium for over 12 years and was responsible for husbandry, animal health, dive programs, and conservation and research programs. She has also helped established The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation.

Dr. Berzins holds both a Bachelor and Masters Degree in Biology from Stanford University, a PhD in Zoology from University of California, Berkeley, and a DVM from the University of California, Davis.  She also completed a three-year fellowship program in Comparative Pathology from The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore.

Research opportunities have taken her to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the Guyana National Zoo in South America in conjunction with the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., and the Bodega Marine Laboratory, UC California.

She has held several teaching positions including visiting Assistant Professorships at the University of Hawaii, University of California, Davis, Northeastern University’s School for Field Studies program, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.  Currently she holds a Courtesy Faculty appointment with the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Florida.

Dr. Berzins is actively involved with several significant committees for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums including the Aquatic Advisory Committee, the Accreditation Commission, and the Research Coordinators Committee.  She is also a member of the American Association of Zoological Veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine.  She has authored/co-authored numerous publications and book chapters, and currently is working as a co-editor of a book on fish medicine.

She enjoys outdoor activities, traveling, reading and cooking (she also holds an Intermediate Diploma and Advance Level Certificate in Cooking from La Varenne in Paris….oo la la).