AETA President’s Report – Winter 2020

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Published on: January 3, 2020


As we conclude 2019, it is inevitable to take time to reflect. For myself, I reflect on what I am thankful for, things I could have done differently, and ways to make life better for those around me.  If I could offer one piece of advice, it is please don’t wait for a tragedy or unfortunate circumstance to remind you about the significant people in your life and what they mean to you. 

As the AETA moves into 2020, my priority is to further the AETA’s efforts to serve an increasingly diverse membership while elevating the AETA as the “Vanguard of the Embryo Transfer Industry.” We all need to ask ourselves: “to what ends are we as an organization striving for this?” I think we would all agree that we already do this with our clients and allied industries, but we also need to remember our regulatory entities. Who else should the AETA target? The AETA board members would like to hear from you. The board has and continues to take concerns and requests from the membership very seriously to only improve our organization as a whole. 

What I ask of our membership in 2020 –

  1. Please engage a board member with specific thoughts, concerns, ideas, or questions. We value your membership and want you to get the most out of it.
  2. Check your email for the AETA newsletter and other communications.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  I am looking forward to 2020 and I hope you are as well. 


Matt Dorshorst, MS DVM

AETA Board President

Letter from AETA Past President

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Published on: January 3, 2020

The success of the American Embryo Transfer Association is attributed to the strong commitment and hard work from our members and leaders who have served the organization for many years. Since the first organizational meeting in Denver, 1981, to the first convention in Fort Collins, 1983, it gave us great pleasure to return to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the 2019 annual convention. The convention was a complete success with record attendance and an outstanding venue for AETA and CETA combined. We thank the many volunteers that helped plan such an amazing convention, but especially Morgan and the professional team at FASS.

We congratulate three outstanding award recipients, each of which have positively impacted our organization and industry for the greater good. Dr. Brad Stroud, Dr. Charles Looney, and Dr. Roger Davis were each presented a token of appreciation for their outstanding contributions, leadership, and service for many years to our organization. We also recognized ten outstanding scholarship winners from nine different universities that will be tomorrow’s future leaders. We had positive feedback on our first annual poster contest. Although we had snow on the golf course, mountaintop, and lakefront, the convention at Cheyenne Mountain Resort was a big hit!

At our business meeting, AETA had a healthy and positive discussion on Bylaws, which proved to be a success discussing one of our key pillars, membership. Our board actively seeks participation and since we work for our membership our efforts always represent and accommodate the majority. In the next few weeks, we plan to send out a survey seeking your feedback on a few ideas such as our positive financial surplus, technician endorsement, and future ideas each of you may have for AETA. As we look to the future setting goals, we actively seek advice and direction from our members.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to each member of AETA for the opportunity to have served on the board and as president in 2019.  It was truly an honor. I made many new close friends and enjoyed every moment. I thank the many volunteers, especially those members who serve on committees that keep our organization strong and our industry vibrant. I invite everyone to serve in some capacity and I know this organization is in great hands for the future. I look forward to a great convention with you next year in Madison, Wisconsin!

Blessings to you, your families, and businesses during this wonderful holiday season and the very best of luck for a terrific 2020.

Matthew E. Iager, DVM                                                                                                             

The AETA Announces 2019 Award Winners, Student Scholarship Recipients, and 2020 Board of Directors

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Published on: January 3, 2020

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Embryo Transfer Association was held October 24-26 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado. More than 400 national and international attendees came together. The meeting hosted oral and poster presentations as well as commercial exhibits. Special events included the preconference social, companion tours, and awards banquet.

Listed below are the winners of the 2019 AETA awards who were recognized at the 2019 meeting and the incoming 2020 AETA Board of Directors.

The Edwin Robertson Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Brad Stroud – Weatherford, TX

AETA President’s Award

Dr. Charles Looney – Hope, AR

Honorary Lifetime Membership

Dr. Roger Davis – Crossfield, AB, Canada

Student Scholarship Recipients

Josh Brown, University of Minnesota

David Hardesty, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sarah Harp, The Ohio State University

Makayla Hawbaker, University of Wisconsin

Russell Johnson, Tuskegee University

Kaitlin Karl, Michigan State University

Mariah Markle, Louisiana State University

Hilary Seals, Auburn University

Nicholas Shen, Lincoln Memorial University

Michael Topper, University of Pennsylvania

Board of Directors

President – Dr. Matthew Dorshorst, Marshfield, WI

Vice President – Dr. William Croushore, Berlin, PA

Secretary-Treasurer – Dr. Clay Breiner, Westmoreland, KS

Immediate Past President – Dr. Matt Iager, Boonsboro, MD

Director – Dr. Kory Bigalk, Rochester, MN

Director – Dr. Pat Comyn, Madison, VA

Director – Dr. Brad Lindsey, Midway, TX

Director – Dr. Greg Schueller, Whitewater, WI

Director – Dr. Jeremy VanBoening, Alma, NE

In addition, the AETA announces its 2020 joint annual convention with the Canadian Embryo Transfer Association (CETA), to be held October 5-7, following the World Dairy Expo. The 2020 joint meeting will be held at the Madison Marriott West in Madison, WI.

The purpose of the AETA is to unite those organizations and individuals in the United States engaged in the embryo transfer industry into an affiliated federation operating under self-imposed standards of performance and conduct. Members aim to present a unified voice of the industry to promote the mutual interests and ideals of the members; to protect the users of the embryo transfer industry to the extent technically and ethically possible; to educate the public properly on the status and capability of the United States embryo transfer industry; and to encourage others to engage in the pursuit of this industry. For more information about the AETA, please visit

2018 AETA Statistics Committee Report

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Published on: January 3, 2020

2018 Report of the Data Retrieval Committee

What is an early blastocyst? (And does it matter?)

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Published on: January 3, 2020

Written by Dr. Jennifer Barfield

This year at the annual AETA/CETA meeting in Colorado Springs approximately 100 people signed up for a pre-conference symposium on Advanced ET. One of the three sessions was embryo grading where the audience was asked to stage and grade a variety of embryos from both pictures and videos. This is an exercise that we have done at this meeting in the past and it was interesting to revisit some of the same questions. As in the past, I polled the participants in this session to gauge what level of expertise was in the audience. The breakdown according to years of experience was 0-5 (25%), 6-10 (19%), 11-15 (12%), 16-20 (12%), and 21+ (32%).

For many of the questions the results showed a general consensus, but there was one question for which the distribution was not what I expected. The slide below is the question as it was presented to the audience. The embryo photo is from the IETS Bovine In Vivo Ova Tutorial (see p. 85, IETS members can access the document here

Across all 3 sessions the answers were A 7%, B 54%, C 34%, D 1%, and E 4% with more disagreement in the first and third session than in the second. See Figure 2. In all sessions more people classified this embryo as an early blastocyst but the number of people who classified this a full blastocyst surprised me. I went back to look at the IETS guide and it stated that as the blastocoele of this embryo is approaching 50% of the embryo that this may be considered a stage 6 embryo.

As someone who often teaches students about classifying and grading embryos, the idea that I may have been instructing people incorrectly troubled me. At Colorado State University, I teach that an early blastocyst is one in which there is a blastocoele cavity present that has not yet filled the perivitelline space of the embryo, even if the blastocoele cavity is larger than 50% of the embryo. A full blastocyst is characterized by a blastocoele cavity that touches the zona pellucida on all sides, except for where it touches the inner cell mass, thus there is no PV space. I wondered if perhaps my interpretation of an early blastocyst is the result of a drift in teaching from an earlier time when these definitions were more strictly and/or widely followed. So I broke down the answers for this question according to years of experience thinking that perhaps practitioners who were learning how to classify embryos when the guidelines were developed would adhere to them more strictly, i.e. more often calling an embryo like this a full blastocyst. That wasn’t the case.

Of the respondents who had over 20 years of experience, 69% classified this embryo as an early blastocyst (24/35) while 52% of the youngest cohort classified this embryo as early (14/27). The only group in which more people called this a blastocyst than an early blastocyst was the 11-15 years group, although there were few respondents overall in this group (8/13 called this a blastocyst). So, I was wrong about the oldest yet wisest of us following the IETS staging guidelines more strictly.

That led me to ask the question, does it even matter if we are all calling this embryo an early blastocyst or a blastocyst? If you are collecting and transferring day 7 in vivo-produced embryos, probably not. The pregnancy rates from transferring grade 1 early blastocysts and grade 1 blastocysts are not significantly different (Hasler, 2001). This slight difference in stage would not change the synchrony of the recipient you choose. It would likely not change how you would cryopreserve this embryo as most in vivo embryos are slow frozen rather than vitrified. From a research standpoint we often make distinctions in stage depending on the question being asked, so it’s possible that inconsistencies in classifying embryos in the field could yield some erroneous conclusions, although I’ll admit I cannot give you any examples of this as I have not scoured the literature for papers where there were significant differences in outcome between early blastocysts and blastocysts for any tested hypothesis.

Outside of simply desiring consistency, the only time when the decision to call it an early blastocyst verses a blastocyst may be important is when grading in vitro-produced embryos. Grading embryos is not only based on the physical appearance of the embryo but also on its stage of development. The slide below was also discussed during the embryo grading sessions in the context of how to incorporate stage into overall embryo grade. In vitro-produced embryos are approximately 1 day more advanced in development than in vivo-produced embryos because of what we consider day 0 in these 2 systems (in vivo day 0 = standing heat, in vitro day 0 = initiation of co-incubation of sperm and oocytes). All morulae would be a day behind in development in an IVP system and given a grade 2 no matter how perfect but early blastocysts sit on the fence. Grading may be an instance where the > or < 50% blastocoele volume distinction matters with embryos with <50% of the volume being the blastocoele cavity being grade 2 and those with >50% volume being blastocoele grade 1. Still, I would be surprised if this fine distinction and difference in grade would translate into a significant difference in pregnancy rates, which is what matters. If anyone has data that may provide insight, please share it! 

So does it matter if we are all calling this small subset of embryos early blastocysts or blastocysts? Probably not, at least not for in-vivo produced embryos. Is it interesting? I think so, particularly from an educational and research perspective. Is it something that we as a community of reproductive practitioners and embryologists should talk more about as we consider developing a separate grading system for in vitro-produced embryos? I’d say yes.

How much Follicle Stimulating Hormone do we really need for cattle superovulation ?

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Published on: January 3, 2020

Superovulation data

Although the American Embryo Transfer Association and the International Embryo Technology Society perform a tremendous and necessary review of embryo transfer activity in the United States (Tables 1 and 2) and worldwide, there are limited data available on the dose, type, route of delivery, and protocols for Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) administration (Kelly, 1997).  Other factors that contribute to the success of ovarian hyperstimulation are the breed, age, parity, and management of cattle, ovarian follicular reserve, and superovulation history of a particular donor.  Delivery of FSH to achieve superovulation is generally a twice daily injection schedule beginning on the day before or the day of emergence of a follicular wave (Adams, 1992) and lasting for three or four days; however, single dose (Looney, 1986; Bo, 1994; Kelly, 1997) or split single dose delivery (Tribulo, 2012), as well as FSH gels (Kimura, 2016) and implants (Floyd, 2007) to enhance bioavailability have been reported.  The current FDA approved FSH product is a pituitary derivative although the interest in producing a custom, reliable, and effective, FSH (and Luteinizing Hormone [LH]) product from recombinant technology has a substantial history (Looney, 1988; Wilson, 1993) and is gaining considerable traction (Hesser, 2011; Vega, 2019).  Classically, pituitary-derived FSH products had substantial LH contamination and a role for each of the gonadotropins was hypothesized (Donaldson, 1985).  The current product is very pure although it is likely that some LH might well be important for successful nourishment of multiple dominant follicles (Ginther, 1996) although it may be difficult to mimic the pulsatile pattern of LH.  Regardless of the protocol, the most critical component for FSH administration is the timing relative to the endogenous FSH surge.  Practically, this approach requires a hormonal or mechanical technique to engineer a follicular wave in order to efficiently schedule the embryo collection (Crowe, 2013.  The protocol for engineering a follicular wave also has many considerations and challenges (time, expensive equipment, choice of hormones, etc.).

What if we miss an FSH injection?

The literature is scant with information about which FSH injections are the most important.  It seems logical that the first few injections are the most important (due to dosage and timing) and the last few are the least important.  Using a six FSH injection protocol following ultrasound guided follicular ablation of all follicles larger than 5 mm, the administration of the sixth FSH injection or not did not impact the embryo recovery results (Gibbons, 2019).  Practically, even if it is known that an FSH injection was missed, the donor will still likely be inseminated and embryo recovery attempted.  A single dose of FSH administered on Day 10 following estrus has been shown to produce a similar number of ovulations as a multi-dose approach (Kelly, 1997); however, there were more degenerate embryos and unfertilized ova, suggesting that in addition the scheduling aspect, engineering a follicular wave for superovulation may be important impact the “fertilizability” of the ova within the follicles and the timing of the first few FSH injections relative to follicular wave emergence outweighs the effects of any other single FSH injection.

FSH per Transferable Embryo

There is no public data base for the amount of FSH given to any one donor.  There are recent data (Gibbons, 2019) to suggest that the amount of FSH per transferable embryo may be as low as 1.5 mls (54 IU; Folltropin) following an engineered follicular wave.  The appropriate timing of FSH initiation could decrease the overall required dosage of FSH, which is financially important given that the cost of FSH is one of the largest single costs associated with superovulation.  Further, although there is a relatively accurate idea of how many corpora lutea (CL) are present at embryo collection, without counting the CL via ultrasonography, it is difficult to know if or how many embryos / ova are not accounted for following collection. 

Where do we go from here?

In vitro embryo technologies are clearly gaining considerable traction (Table 2.); however, the need for effective and efficient superovulation protocols remains important.  The effectiveness of these protocols is linked to the timing of the initial FSH injection; however, due to the considerable number of different protocols that are available it is difficult to determine which approach more appropriately exploits the endogenous FSH surge and results in more transferable embryos.  Future research comparing different FSH protocols relative to endogenous FSH profiles and follicular wave emergence will be important and may increase the number of transferable embryos per collection which has not waivered substantially in 20 plus years.


Adams GP, Matteri RL, Kastelic JP, Ko JC, Ginther OJ.  Association between surges of follicle-stimulating hormone and the emergence of follicular waves in heifers.  Journal of Reproduction Fertility, 1992; 94(1):177-188.

Bo GA, Hockley DK, Nasser LF, Mapletoft RJ.  Superovulatory response to a single subcutaneous injection of Folltropin-V in beef cattle.  Theriogenology, 1994;42(6):963-975.

Crowe MA, Mullen MP.  Relative roles of FSH and LH in stimulation of effective follicular response in cattle.  Intech Open Access, 2013;

Donaldson LE.  LH and FSH at superovulation and embryo production in the cow.  Theriogenology 1985;23(3):441-447.

Floyd C.  Subcutaneous FSH implants.  MS Thesis, Clemson University, 2007:

Gibbons JR, Anton J.  Dominant follicle removal prior to superovulation.  Poster presented at 2019 joint annual AETA & CETA/ACTE convention, 2019.

Ginther OJ, Wiltbank MC, Fricke PM, Gibbons JR, Kot K.  Selection of the dominant follicle in cattle.  Biology of Reproduction 1996;55:1187-1194.

Hesser MW, Morris JC, Gibbons JR.  Advances in recombinant gonadotropin production for use in bovine superovulation.  Reproduction Domestic Animals, 2011;46:933-942.

Kelly P, Duffy P, Roche JF, Boland MP.  Superovulation in cattle: effect of FSH type and method of administration on follicular growth, ovulatory response and endocrine patterns.  Assisted Reproduction Sciences 1997;46:1-14.

Kimura K.  Superovulation with a single administration of FSH in aluminum hydroxide gel: a novel superovulation method for cattle.  Journal of Reproduction Development, 2016;62(5):423-429.

Looney CR, Bondioli KR, Hill KG, Massey JM.  Superovulation of donor cows with bovine follicle-stimulating hormone (bFSH) produced by recombinant DNA technology.  Theriogenology 1988;29:271.

Looney CR.  Superovulation in beef females.  Proceedings of the 5th annual conference of American Embryo Transfer Association, 1986;16-29.

Tribulo A, Rogan D, Tribulo H, Tribulo R, Mapltoft RJ, Bo GA. 

Superovulation of beef cattle with a split-dose intramuscular administration of Folltropin-V in two concentrations of hyaluronan.  Theriogenology 2012;77:1679-1685.

Vega VMB, Chavez SPJ, Franco CDM, Ramos TI, Toledo JR.  FSH in superovulation.  Revista Bionature, 2019;812-816.

Wilson JM, Jones AL, Moore K, Looney CR, Bondioli KR.  Superovulation of cattle with a recombinant-DNA bovine follicle stimulating hormone.  Animal Reproduction Science, 1993;33(1):71-82.

Articles of Interest

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The pre-hatching bovine embryo transforms the uterine luminal metabolite composition in vivo

Somatic cell nuclear transfer alters peri-implantation trophoblast differentiation in bovine embryos

Placental development during early pregnancy in sheep: Effects of embryo origin on vascularization

Bovine Fetal Placenta During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period

Heifer nutrition during early- and mid-pregnancy alters fetal growth trajectory and birth weight

Reduced quality of bovine embryos cultured in media conditioned by exposure to an inflamed endometrium

Pivotal periods for pregnancy loss during the first trimester of gestation in lactating dairy cows

Evaluation of the uterine environment early in pregnancy establishment to characterise cows with a potentially superior ability to support conceptus survival

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Josh Brown

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Published on: January 3, 2020

My goals for attending the AETA conference were to learn more about the industry, further my knowledge of embryo transfer, and make connections in the field for the future.

From the pre-conference seminars to the very last lecture, I was expanding my knowledge on embryo transfer. The preconference session, ET101, was one of the highlights of the conference for me. The lecture filled in gaps of knowledge I had on syncing donors, drug dosages, and grading embryos. It was also beneficial to hear that beef and dairy have slightly different protocols. The student/technician sessions were also helpful, and it was exciting to practice grading embryos, thawing and freezing them. The student and mentor lunch was valuable, in that we got to hear advice from practitioners and the benefits of the varying practice types.

The knowledge I gained from the conference will be applicable to me in both industry and academic work. Understanding the reproductive physiology will benefit me in school as we continue our palpation labs, and comprehending the structures I am palpating and associating them with the stage of the cycle they are in. During fourth year I will be able to apply the knowledge I learned from this conference to my externships and rotations. I will be able to apply the material I learned from the conference right away in my career as a veterinarian. Not only will the material be beneficial in embryo transfer but in the cattle industry as a whole. Genetics is the foundation to a great herd, and embryo transfer can establish that and allow it to grow. From selecting donors to understanding synchronizations, this conference covered multiple topics I wanted to learn about and more. I would strongly recommend it to any student or veterinarian who is interested in embryo transfer, and I would like to thank the AETA scholarship committee for this award.

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: David Hardesty

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Published on: January 3, 2020

I would like to thank the AETA, the members, and the scholarship committee for giving me the opportunity to attend the meeting in Colorado Springs. I was able to network with the world’s leaders in embryo transfer, attend informative seminars, and have so much fun while doing it. I left Colorado with a deeper knowledge in embryo transfer and am eager to learn more as I head back to school.

The ET 101 pre-conference seminar by Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Schueller was very informative and increased my basic background knowledge on embryo transfer. They were willing to share their personal experience and the exact techniques they use in practice, which was very helpful in developing my understanding of how everything works. My favorite session throughout the weekend was the student/technician session, where we were able to thaw embryos, find them under the microscope, and load them into straws. This gave me great practical experience in staging embryos and how to work with them microscopically. Other sessions taught me more about proper recipient management, reasons for pregnancy loss, monitoring development, and more research that is being done in the field.

Throughout the weekend I built many connections with veterinarians, technicians, and other students. I was able to talk to current AETA members to pick their brains on different aspects of the industry as well to learn about different experiences out there I can pursue to further develop my knowledge. At the exhibits I was able to speak to companies that are innovators in the industry and learn about what new technologies they have came out with.

I am very grateful that I was able to attend the 2019 AETA conference. I came away with an increased knowledge in embryo transfer and a bigger network where I can learn even more. I already had a drive and passion for ET, but this conference made me hungry to learn even more. Thank you again, and I hope to see you all in the future.

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Sarah Harp

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My name is Sarah Harp; I am from central Ohio and am currently a fourth-year student at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I am interested primarily in working with beef cattle and small ruminants.

I want to first say a heartfelt thank-you to the American Embryo Transfer Association for their generosity in providing these scholarships. I would likely not have been able to attend otherwise, and their support allowed me to learn more about the industry, meet countless people involved in the business, and experience what this organization is all about. I also want to say thank you to all those in attendance who took time to talk to us as students and share your stories and advice. And finally, a big thank-you to Dr. Rob Stout at Legends Lane Reproductive Services for encouraging me to join this organization and apply for the convention scholarship as well. His mentorship and willingness to teach have been an inspiration to continue pursuing this career field.

One of my primary objectives in attending the convention was to talk to people involved in the industry and find out how they got involved, how embryo transfer is incorporated into their business, and what they like or would change about their career field. I was surprised at the wide variety of businesses and experiences of those in attendance. A large portion work in reproduction specialty–only practices, whether private or commercial; but I spoke with quite a few who work in general practice and have incorporated embryo transfer services into their business. Also, as this is a relatively new and expanding field, it was interesting and inspiring to have so many founders and pioneers in the field in attendance who are still involved and sharing their knowledge. I am thankful for the connections I made during the conference and the opportunities for future externships that I can learn from in the coming year.

The sessions offered at the conference covered a diverse range of topics and were an excellent learning experience for those just getting started in the industry. The pre-conference ET 101 course was an excellent refresher on introductory material and an opportunity for practitioners to troubleshoot problems they have encountered and get advice. The general sessions throughout the conference showed the scientific and research-driven aspect of this field. I particularly appreciated the question-and-answer times following the presentations, as the questions showed vested interest in ensuring that solid research methods were leading to valid conclusions. This field seems to lend itself nicely to research studies even at the private practitioner level, and with room to still grow and improve, this aspect is a drawing force to see where we can improve over the next generation.

Finally, I must mention the truly family-like atmosphere among the membership. It may not be as small and close-knit as it once was, but the warmth and friendship throughout the conference was apparent. Everyone was very welcoming, and I had several people comment about the organization’s efforts to get younger members involved, and I believe the scholarship is a great start to those efforts. I was also interested to hear about other programs within the organization, such as the trade missions, which not only offer valuable services to other countries but promote international trade as well. The efforts to continually improve this organization are apparent, and the collaborative nature of the group makes it one which will be a privilege to be a part of.

Thank you again to all of those involved who make these scholarships possible. I look forward to continuing to be a part of this organization and seeing the strides made in years to come.

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Makayla Hawbaker

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Published on: January 3, 2020

I wanted to start by giving my sincerest thanks to the AETA scholarship committee for selecting me to be one of the scholarship recipients for the 2019 AETA & CETA/ACTE Joint Annual Convention in Colorado Springs. I was honored to have the opportunity to attend and to learn from experts in the field from all over the United States and Canada.

One of the most rewarding parts of the conference was interacting with the other members and exhibitors. I learned so much from our conversations and made some great connections for mentorship and future externships. Honestly, it felt as though I had been invited to a big family reunion, and everyone made me feel welcome. It was a privilege to get to know the other students in attendance and to form friendships with individuals who will one day be my colleagues.

My goal for attending the conference was to learn more about advanced reproduction, its challenges, and what the future of the industry looks like. Unlike many other conferences, I appreciated that this conference was geared toward both beginners and experts in the field. I have been to conferences in which the material was way over my head and directed more toward people who are already in practice. AETA was different in that the information was geared toward those new to the industry and wanting to learn, whether they were still a student or had been in practice five, ten, or fifteen years, or more.

I enjoyed the student sessions and the hands-on experience that we got thawing and staging embryos under the microscope. I appreciated the wide array of topics that were discussed at the conference, everything from dairy cattle to horses and small ruminants. There was truly something for everyone at this meeting. I learned valuable information about the effects of nutrition on oocyte quality and general reproduction of cattle. I appreciated that this information was applicable to everyone and can be used in general practice, since this is important for reproduction success even if a client doesn’t intend to utilize the advanced reproductive techniques that are out there. I also learned about the importance of managing the donors and recipients to give yourself the best odds of having a successful collection and pregnancy. One thing that I found fascinating was the differences in freezing and success rates seen between the different breeds of cattle.

In addition to attending the meetings, I met many of the exhibitors and made some great connections for externships and learned about the technology that is out there to assist with advanced reproduction.

I can’t thank you all enough for giving me the opportunity to attend the AETA convention. I had a great time and met some wonderful people who really made me feel welcome. I appreciate everyone who went out of their way to talk to the students, ask questions, and mentor us. I look forward to working with some of you in the future through externships, and I hope to see many of you again at future conventions.

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Russell Johnson

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Published on: January 3, 2020

It was both a pleasure and an honor to be in attendance at the 2019 AETA Conference. The knowledge, introductory skills, and contacts made are irreplaceable. I am currently seeking a PhD in Reproductive Physiology at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. My area of research is centered around in vitro fertilization in cattle. There have been several publications on the beneficial antioxidant effects of melatonin on in vitro fertilization. There is also a recent publication on the effects of exogenous melatonin on uterine arterial blood flow in late gestation. I am hoping to be able to look at the effects of exogenous melatonin on oocyte quality.

The Preconference Seminar I, ET 101, was a great practical introduction to embryo transfer. Everything from an overview of the estrus cycle to actual transferring of embryos was covered. I have the opportunity to read articles on this subject matter on a regular basis, which gives me a theoretical look at embryo transfer, but the class as well as the entire conference gave me an introduction to the understanding of its practicality. The class gave me a good idea as to what it will take to accomplish my research goals, both skill sets and finances needed, as well as what it will take to include embryo transfer services in my future veterinary practice. The student/technician session was a great way to introduce embryo handling. Prior to attending the conference, I had the opportunity to aspirate oocytes from slaughterhouse ovaries and practice handling, grading, maturing, and staining them. In a laboratory setting at school, we used a different, more difficult way of handling the oocytes than was used in the student/technician session. I had actually never observed both sides of an oocyte, nor did I know that it was even necessary. The student/technician session reinforced the importance of taking a complete look at the embryo or oocyte, not just a one-sided view. It was nice to have some of the industry’s best teaching different hands-on techniques.

The speaker sessions provided information from both a research standpoint and from the perspective of what is actually being done in the field. As I develop my research project, I believe that it is important to be able to bridge the gap between what can be done in theory, in a controlled laboratory setting, and in the field. The sessions on IVF were especially beneficial to my research. A lot goes into the birth of a calf via IVF: however important, the quality of the oocyte is only a small factor. Being able to monitor the development of IVF embryos may lead to understanding of what conditions we can manipulate both in vivo and in vitro to increase the quality of both the oocyte and the embryo, thus increasing the number of live calves being born using IVF technology. When you look at things only from your area of research, it is possible to overlook other aspects of the process that are equally important, such as the recipient. The sessions geared toward recipient management put into perspective that an embryo transfer program will be no better than its recipient management program; the two are equally important. I also learned that there is an embryo transfer market in small ruminants, including deer.

Although my area of current research is bovine oocytes, I one day would like to participate in a veterinary practice that is centered around reproductive technologies, thus giving me the opportunity to develop embryo transfer skills that would lead to an Embryo Transfer Certification. Not only did this conference began to bridge the gap between theory, laboratory setting, and the field; it placed me around a lot of people who have the same interest that I do and who are actually doing what I want to learn to do, who demonstrated the willingness to help me achieve what I would like to do, making it possible to believe that my dreams can be achieved. Lastly, I would like to say thank you for providing me with this opportunity. I look forward to attending the AETA 2020 conference, taking the Advanced ET course, and attending the student/technician session.

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Kaitlin Karl

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Published on: January 3, 2020

When I learned that I had received an AETA 2019 Student Scholarship Award, my objectives for attending the conference were to gain industry insight on how to become a successful practitioner and to expand my knowledge of useful assisted reproductive techniques used in bovines, such as embryo flushing and oocyte pickups, that would be applicable to my own research.

However, while attending the 2019 AETA conference, I gained much more than I had expected. I gained industry insight that is beneficial to my future career goals by networking with practitioners and technicians, specifically by attending the student/mentor luncheon. The luncheon allowed students to interact with current AETA and CETA/ACTE professionals across various roles in the industry who were willing to entertain questions, share their experiences and hardships from throughout their careers, and offer valuable advice. Coming from a primarily academic background, I have struggled finding guidance and answers concerning aspects of transitioning from academia into the industry field. The professionals I interacted with were extremely personable, willing to help troubleshoot problems I have experienced in my research, and eager to teach new concepts.

The student/technician courses and wet laboratory sessions conducted by Dr. John Gibbons, assisted by BovaGen Embryo Technician Miles Morris, taught hands-on techniques for thawing and properly processing embryos to be frozen. This was my first experience preparing an embryo straw to be frozen, and being allowed the opportunity to attempt it independently in a low-pressure environment was very exciting.

The pre-conference Embryo Transfer 101 course presented by Drs. Randall Hinshaw and Greg Schueller also provided a great deal of information that I have been able to take back to Michigan State University with me and apply to my own research project, where I am attempting to flush Holstein heifers treated with excessive doses of follicle stimulating hormone to determine effect on embryo quality. The two separate techniques (in beef and dairy) described throughout the course for both donor and recipient heifers, as well as embryo collection and handling, were interesting and refreshing to compare numerous successful protocols.

This knowledge will directly benefit my research and academic work by allowing me to properly preform embryo flushes and have realistic expectations of collections, useful troubleshooting techniques, and the ability to share what I have learned with my colleagues. I believe that by attending this conference, I am returning to the university setting with a more confident outlook on the career path I want to pursue after completion of my doctoral degree. Discussing specifics with successful industry personnel from different backgrounds was a great experience that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to do.

In addition to applicable techniques and useful advice, the 2019 AETA Conference was overall an enjoyable networking opportunity in a beautiful city. Being a member of the AETA community is an exciting opportunity that I look forward to continuing for many years.

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Mariah Markle

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Published on: January 3, 2020

My objectives for attending the AETA annual meeting were to expand my clinical-based knowledge in the field of embryo transfer, to network with peers and mentors, and to increase my exposure to vendors and products I will potentially be using in my future career. I believe that I accomplished all of the goals I set for myself to achieve during my attendance at the AETA annual meeting. By attending the many informative and didactic presentations at the meeting, I gained insight into new techniques and ideas that I had not previously been exposed to. There were many opportunities for students at the meeting to learn new things, such as the ET 101 and student sessions. I was able to meet many future colleagues during our meals and many of my peers during our student sessions and the student/mentor lunch. The vendor exhibits provided the opportunity to network with reps and learn about ultrasound machines, in vitro culture media, embryo transfer supplies, and many more products that will be useful to me throughout my career. All of the knowledge that I gained from attending this meeting will be invaluable in my future career as an equine veterinarian interested in in vitro production of embryos and embryo transfer. During the remaining portion of my academic career, this experience will benefit me throughout my clinical rotations and allow me to pass on the information I have obtained to my peers. I am grateful to the AETA for the opportunity to attend this meeting and gain valuable insights into the field of embryo transfer. I thoroughly enjoyed attending the AETA annual meeting at the beautiful venue in Colorado Springs and look forward to my membership and involvement in this great organization for many years to come!

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Hilary Seals

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Published on: January 3, 2020

The AETA convention scholarship offered me, as a veterinary student, an amazing opportunity to learn about embryo transfer and meet hundreds of practitioners working in the field. By attending the convention, I hoped to gain a deeper knowledge of the embryo transfer industry and learn from new mentors. Throughout the convention, I was encouraged to find that practitioners are excited about new graduates. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting veterinarians from around the world and learning from their experiences.

I thought the AETA convention did a good job of engaging students through the student-focused sessions. Students were given the opportunity to thaw, grade, and load embryos into straws, which was a valuable experience. The scientific sessions at the convention were a good mixture of cutting-edge research and practical practice tips. I particularly learned a lot from the session about genomic data and recipient selection. As a student, I also valued the wisdom that was shared in the practitioner forum.

Going forward, I will take the knowledge I learned at the AETA convention to advance my passion for embryo transfer. I learned valuable information on embryo transfer and IVF that will assist me when I start my career as a veterinarian. Most importantly, I am thankful to have gained new mentors through the AETA convention and will utilize those relationships as I begin working in the embryo transfer field. Through conversations with practitioners at the AETA convention, I was able to coordinate an embryo transfer externship that will give me valuable hands-on experience.

The student scholarship to the AETA convention has made a big impact on my career. I believe that AETA does a great job engaging students and giving them the tools to start a career in embryo transfer. I am very thankful to have been afforded the opportunity to attend the AETA convention and look forward to attending many more AETA meetings in the years to come.

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Nicholas Shen

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Published on: January 3, 2020

My objectives for the 2019 AETA Conference in Colorado Springs were to attend the student training sessions, attend seminars on conventional and IVF embryo transfer, learn about new approaches for synchronization to optimize recipient management, and learn about genomic impacts in embryo transfer. Not only did I gain knowledge in advanced reproductive techniques but I also enjoyed meeting many veterinarians, postdoctorates, veterinary student peers, and industry professionals. Additionally, attending the conference enlightened me on the industry’s current benchmarks for successful embryo collection and transfer. The ET 101 training course filled the gaps in my understanding of the basics of follicular dynamics, scheduling donors and recipients, different collection techniques, grading/staging embryos, and processing embryos. This knowledge was put to use immediately after the conference, as I assisted with OPU procedures for the first time on a clinical year rotation. Having attended the conference beforehand, this greatly enhanced my understanding of the post-collection process leading to IVF. Overall, the great opportunity to attend this year’s conference has propelled me one step closer to a goal of being able to soon contribute as a practicing veterinarian in a predominantly beef cattle practice by learning specialty services such as embryo transfer, allowing a rural cattle practice to further serve clients and sustain itself despite having seasonal work.

2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Michael Topper

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Published on: January 3, 2020

I would like to first thank the AETA membership as a whole, as well as the scholarship committee for providing me with the opportunity to attend the 2019 CETA/AETA conference. Based on previous students’ experiences at the AETA conference, I had high hopes prior to attending, and the conference lived up to my expectations and then some.

Although my plane was delayed and I missed the first 30 minutes of the pre-conference seminar, I still thought it was a nice introduction to the conference as a whole and provided some excellent insight on how to begin offering embryo transfer services in a practice.

The diverse range of topics presented in the sessions was a great learning experience. I especially enjoyed listening to Dr. Daniela Demetrio’s talk detailing her IVF and embryo transfer protocols at Ruann and Maddox Dairy. Additionally, the student/mentor lunch provided me with an opportunity to talk with recently graduated veterinarians and hear how they have been able to incorporate advanced reproduction techniques into their careers. The mentors at my table ranged from doctors who practice embryo transfer full time, to ambulatory dairy practitioners who offer embryo transfer as a service at their practice. It was fantastic to get their insights on what to focus on during veterinary school and how to begin offering embryo transfer services after graduation.

Overall, I had an amazing time attending the conference and speaking with many AETA members throughout the weekend. I gained a lot of knowledge, as well as advice and contacts for the future. Thank you again for the opportunity. I hope to return next year!

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