The magnum opus chapter of Matthew’s dissertation reports on the mechanisms that underpin reproductive disorders in Lake Apopka female alligators (the paper can be found linked here). This lake is contaminated with endocrine disrupting chemicals that have the potential to interact with the estrogen receptor and the Lake Apopka alligator population has been used as a model for understanding environmental reproductive health since the early 90’s. We found that approximately ¾ of genes are differently expressed in Lake Apopka alligator ovaries when compared to a reference site. The big surprise was that exposing embryos from the reference site to a single dose of estrogen (prior to ovarian differentiation) was sufficient to overwhelmingly recapitulate these patterns. Also noteworthy is this estrogen treatment in reference animals also recapitulated the follicle abnormalities in Apopka ovaries. Our main conclusion is that estrogenic contaminants are likely disrupting the timing of estrogen signaling during ovarian differentiation, which leads to persistent changes to ovary structure and function that are apparent long after the initial exposure. Chris Smaga, a new graduate student in the lab, is following up on these questions, so stay tuned!