The ViaGen Pets and Equine Team

Blake Russell - President

Blake Russell – President

ViaGen Pets and Equine’s work to deliver genetic preservation and cloning services to pet and horse owners worldwide is lead by Blake. Blake also personally runs an equine breeding program at his own ranch in North Texas, where he and his family take care of his prized cloned stallion Pure Tailor Fit–a clone of Tailor Fit–the two-time AQHA Racing World Champion.

Blake has had a successful 25 year career in the animal genetics business–working in more than fifteen countries–and has been responsible for sales, marketing, business development, general management and operations. Blake received his B.S. in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University and his MBA from Emory University.

Shawn Walker – VP of Science and Technology

Shawn Walker, PhD – Chief Science Officer

ViaGen Pets and Equine’s genetic preservation and cloning research are lead by Shawn and he has been one of the nation’s leading cloning experts for more than twenty years. While earning his PhD, Shawn did pioneering work in developing a highly efficient method for animal cloning.

Shawn’s family has two dogs; Maggie is a Schnoodle, a cross between a Giant Schnauzer and a Standard poodle and Tessa is a cross between an Anatolian Shepard and a Great Pyrenees.  They also have a cat, Licorice, and a pot belly pig, Stinky, as well as 18 sheep and two horses–Anna and Appie.

Shawn received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Texas A&M University and his M.S. degree in Veterinary Medicine from Virginia Tech University.

Sanaz Arenivas - Cell Culture Manager

Sanaz Arenivas – Cell Culture Manager

ViaGen Pets and Equine’s Cell Culture Department is lead by Sanaz.

Sanaz joined ViaGen Pets and Equine in 2003 as a Research Associate.  She has been extensively involved in the development of Genetic Preservation and Express Tissue Bank services.

In both the Cell Culture and Cloning Departments, Sanaz has assisted in developing many new procedures, enhanced protocols and optimized laboratory procedures to improve genetic preservation results. Over the past decade, she has focused exclusively on the Cell Culture Department. Since 2008 Sanaz has served as the Cell Culture Manager, overseeing the Cell Culture Laboratory and providing support to the Cloning Department. Sanaz earned her B.A. in Biology from The University of Texas-Austin.

Kelcey Walker, PhD – Research Associate

Kelcey Walker, PhD – Research Associate

Kelcey is an embryologist at ViaGen Pets and Equine.

Kelcey started working at ViaGen Pets and Equine in 2006.  She began part-time, assisting with both cell culture and cloning.  Dr. Walker now runs laboratory management, cell culture and media preparation, as well as having become part of the Cloning team. Dr. Walker received a B.S. in Biology from William & Mary, a M.S. from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.

Lauren Aston – Office Manager & Accounting

Lauren Aston  – Office Manager, Accounting & Marketing Coordinator

Lauren leads the management of all of our locations and oversees all accounting and marketing activities at ViaGen Pets and Equine.

Lauren began working at ViaGen Pets and Equine in 2008 and has handled diverse responsibilities, including managing patent portfolios, HR, marketing activities and trade show engagement.

Lauren received a B.A. in Crime, Law and Justice from Pennsylvania State University.

Melain Rodriguez - – Client Service Manager

Melain Rodriguez – Client Service Manager

Melain leads ViaGen Pets and Equine efforts to deliver exceptional care and service to every pet and horse owner with whom we partner.

Melain has been a member of the ViaGen Pets and Equine team since 2008, having started as a Cell Culture Associate. Since 2009 she has served as the Client Service Manager.

Melain received her B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Arkansas. She has a diverse background in biochemistry and molecular biology and has worked in research laboratories at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the University of California, San Diego.

Melain loves being around all types of animals.  She is a doting pet parent to one dog, two cats and two chickens!

Rana Aljibouri – Cell Culture Associate

Rana Aljibouri – Cell Culture Associate

Rana assists with the work of the Cell Culture Laboratory.

Rana joined ViaGen Pets and Equine in 2013 and administers genetic preservation laboratory services, including tissue processing and cell culture maintenance.

Before coming to ViaGen Pets and Equine, Rana worked in clinical compliance, quality control and protocol development for Phase III clinical research trials for new pharmaceuticals. Rana earned a B.S. in Biology from Texas State University.

Dennis Milutinovich – Pet Services Manager

Dennis Milutinovich – Cloning Lab Manager – Pets

Dennis leads ViaGen Pets work in production and implantation of feline and canine embryos.

Dennis is an accomplished embryologist.  For more then eight years at ViaGen Pets and Equine, he has expanded the knowledge of how to bring embryos to term, advancing protocols and optimizing procedures.

Dennis earned his B.S. in Medical Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Codi Lamb - Client Service Rep

Codi Lamb (with Scylla) – Client Service Representative

Codi assists Melain in delivering on the commitment of ViaGen Pets and Equine to provide exceptional client care. She has been a part of ViaGen Pets and Equine since 2015.

Codi has been around animals most of her life, having grown up on a farm in West Virginia where her brother raised Hereford beef cattle and pigs. She is the proud pet parent to two dogs -Scylla & Winston. Codi earned her B.A. at West Virginia University.

Dr. Kerry Ryan – Attending Veterinarian and Animal Care Manager

Dr. Ryan oversees every aspect of the care of the cloned puppies and kittens from the start of the cloning process until they’re ready to go to their new homes. Dr. Ryan joined the ViaGen Pets and Equine team in the fall of 2017.

Prior to joining the ViaGen Pets and Equine team, she worked as a small animal veterinarian in western NY for 6 years. Dr. Ryan received a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Dr. Ryan and her husband’s four-legged family members are Piper and Haddie, both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, a crazy cat named Ninja, and Triton, a Thoroughbred horse.

Kathy Riddle – Accounting

Kathy’s role at ViaGen Pets and Equine is to assist Lauren Aston with the company’s accounting activities. Kathy works part-time and joined ViaGen Pets and Equine in 2017.

Kathy is a native Texan – born , raised, and has always lived in Texas. She graduated with a B.B.A. at University of Houston.

Jillian Benavidez – Embryologist

Jillian started her time with ViaGen Pets and Equine in the Cell Culture department before transferring to the Cloning team where she works with production and implantation of feline and canine embryos. She earned a M.S. in Animal Science at New Mexico State University with a focus on reproductive endocrinology and has worked with a variety of animal species.

Jillian loves animals of all types and her family includes her dog Toby and her ball python Smaug.

Katy Mullan – Cell Culture Associate

Katy assists in the Cell Culture Laboratory.  Since joining the team in 2019, Katy helps administer Genetic Preservation, including tissue processing and cell culture maintenance.

Before joining ViaGen Pets and Equine, Katy worked in Amarillo conducting ornithology research. Growing up in Texas, Katy has always been around animals, especially horses and dogs. For 15 years, Katy competed in dressage and show jumping events throughout Texas. She is a proud pet parent of two dogs, Sage (a black lab/German shepherd mix) and Ladybird (a chocolate lab).  Katy earned her B.S. in Wildlife Biology at West Texas A&M.

Anita Dowling – Licensed Vet Tech and Animal Care Technician

Anita provides exceptional care and support to our puppies and kittens.

Anita joined the ViaGen Pets and Equine team in 2019. She plays an integral role in the socialization of our puppies and kittens.

Anita earned her B.S. in Veterinary Science Technology from SUNY Canton and is a licensed Veterinarian Technician. She is the proud parent of a wild Redtick Coonhound mix named Leela, and two cats, a brother and sister named Boy and Girl.