Dr. Joy Halverson’s Story


Dr. Joy Halverson DVM is a prominent veterinary research scientist in the specialized field of animal DNA forensics. She is a graduate of the renown veterinary school at the University of California at Davis, with a Masters Degree in Epidemiology. Long fascinated with genetics and DNA technology, she founded Zoogen in 1990.

Zoogen was the first private company in the U.S. to offer animal DNA testing directly to the general public. Its flagship service, Sex Made Easy®, determines the gender of exotic birds using DNA. Zoogen is still the premier avian sexing laboratory in the United States, has tested over 400,000 birds and numbers many hundreds of veterinarians, zoos, research institutions, and bird breeders among its clients.

In the mid-1990s, Dr. Halverson recognized the impending need for DNA identification technology of dogs and cats. Her team at Zoogen developed a DNA profiling system for dogs that was adopted by the American Kennel Club and other pedigreed dog registries and is still used today for pedigree verification by these registries. In 1996, the first request for forensic DNA typing of dogs came from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Dr. Halverson undertook that testing and has performed DNA testing of pet samples for 64 criminal investigations and testified as an expert witness in 13 trials.

Dr. Halverson has appeared on 3 episodes of Forensic Files, Cold Case Files, Busted, Murder by the Book and a Canadian forensic show similar to Forensic Files.

I was a summer intern at the San Diego Zoo when things started to crystallize …

(click below to read more of my story)