Billy Lee Lasley

1978 Laureate, Science & Health
United States, Born 1941

Project Goal

Develop a non-invasive method for determining the sex of endangered birds that will help to establish breeding programmes

Location: United States

Through his endocrinology work at the San Diego Zoo, Billy Lasley discovered a simple way to determine the sex of birds that will help to breed endangered species.

Billy Lee Lasley has been involved with reproduction management since he was a university student. Born in 1941, the American research scientist received his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California at Davis, where today, decades later, he is a professor and associate director of the Center for Health and the Environment.

When he won his Rolex Award in 1978, Lasley was teaching at the University of California’s San Diego campus and working as a research endocrinologist at the San Diego Zoo. His prize-winning project was to establish a practical, non-invasive technique for determining the sex of birds with indistinguishable external markings, in order to enhance captive breeding and preserve species.

Today, Lasley’s innovative method has been supplanted by more advanced genetic tools and he has moved on to study human reproduction and infertility. However, he says: “There are many epidemiological studies now in the literature that use my approach.”

Other 1978 Laureates