The Viagen Pets Team

ViaGen Pets Team

Blake Russell - President

Blake Russell – President

Blake leads ViaGen Pets’ work to deliver genetic preservation and cloning services to pet owners. Blake also personally runs an equine breeding program at his own ranch in the Texas Hill Country, 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 20 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 – VP of Science and Technology

Shawn leads ViaGen Pets’ genetic preservation and cloning research efforts and has been one of the nation’s leading cloning experts for more than sixteen 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.

Melain Rodriguez - – Client Service Manager

Melain Rodriguez – Client Service Manager

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

Melain has worked at ViaGen for seven years, having started as a Cell Culture Associate, and since 2009 has served as the Client Service Manager.

Melain previously worked as a Veterinary Technician in Central Texas. Melain’s science career began over fifteen years ago as a Research Assistant in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.   She subsequently gained extensive knowledge in animal breeding and molecular biology as a Research Associate at the Cellular and Molecular Medicine Department at the University of California in San Diego,

Melain loves being around animals.  She is a doting pet parent of two Miniature Pinschers, Zeus and Zoey.

Lauren Aston – Office Manager & Accounting

Lauren Aston (with Coco) – Office Manager & Accounting & Marketing Coordinator

Lauren leads ViaGen Pets’ management of our offices and oversees all accounting activities.

Lauren has worked at ViaGen for over seven years and has handled diverse responsibilities, including managing patent portfolios, HR, marketing activities and trade show engagement.

Lauren previously worked in loss prevention and drug control. She received a B.A. in Crime, Law and Justice from Pennsylvania State University.  Lauren is a big dog lover and is a loving pet parent of Coco, a Chocolate Labrador Retriever.

Codi Lamb - Client Service Rep

Codi Lamb (with Scylla) – Client Service Representative

Codi assists Melain in delivering on ViaGen Pets’ commitment to exceptional client care.

Codi joined ViaGen Pets in 2015, and is the newest team member at ViaGen Pets.  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 of her beautiful dog Scylla. Codi earned her B.A. at West Virginia University.

Sanaz Arenivas - Cell Culture Manager

Sanaz Arenivas – Cell Culture Manager

Sanaz leads ViaGen Pets’ Cell Culture Department.

Sanaz joined ViaGen over twelve years ago 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.  For the past seven years, 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.

Rana Aljibouri – Cell Culture Associate

Rana Aljibouri – Cell Culture Associate

Rana assists with the work of the Cell Culture Laboratory.

Rana joined ViaGen Pets over two years ago and administers genetic preservation and express tissue bank laboratory services, including tissue processing and cell culture maintenance.

Before coming to ViaGen Pets, 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 – Pet Services Manager

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

Dennis is an accomplished embryologist.  Over the past seven years at ViaGen, 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.

Kelcey Walker, PhD – Research Associate

Kelcey Walker, PhD – Research Associate

Kelcey is an embryologist at ViaGen Pets.

Kelcey started working at ViaGen over eight years, ago.  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.