Natalia Gallego-García, PhD

Director of Conservation Genetics

Natalia Gallego-García is a devoted conservationist and geneticist committed to utilizing cutting-edge molecular tools to steer global conservation efforts for threatened species. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, a Master’s degree in Ecology and Evolution with a specialization in computational biology, and a Ph.D. in Biology with a focus on conservation genomics. Before assuming the role of Director of Conservation Genetics at Turtle Survival Alliance, she served as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Shaffer’s Lab at UCLA. During her time there, she conducted research into the effects of habitat loss and population fragmentation on Dahl’s Toad-headed turtle, and delved into unraveling the intricate species complex of the Red-footed tortoises in South America.

She is passionate about addressing key questions essential for designing effective conservation plans and solving conservation challenges. Notable examples of her work include delineating conservation units for the Red-footed tortoises in Colombia to guide management plans and the relocation of confiscated individuals. Additionally, she has been a pioneer in designing and implementing a genetic rescue program to mitigate inbreeding in Dahl’s Toad-headed turtles and has made significant contributions to the development of breeding strategies for assurance colonies. As a dedicated professional in her field, Natalia has been a member of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group since 2010. She also holds positions on the boards of the Turtle Conservation Fund, the Turtle Taxonomy Fund, and the Beheler Turtle Conservation Award Committee. Her influence extends further as she recently joined the editorial board of “Turtles of the World,” where she will be making significant contributions to the taxonomy of turtles and tortoises.