Meet the team!

For those of you who have been with BetterBred for long, you’ll know our team expanded last summer.  Meet our current team!

BetterBred Founder- Natalie Tessier

After the release of the Standard Poodle genetic diversity paper  Natalie, co-author on the paper, saw a need for more in depth analysis and breeding tools for breeders to use the VGL genetic diversity certificate sent from UC Davis. While the certificate showed the inbreeding value IR (internal relatedness) it did not give breeders a tool to analyze this data and utilize it for breeding decisions. Natalie began to investigate new state of the art methods to use the data for litter simulations that would establish both predicted IR, but also give a measure of the importance a dog has in regard to its breed, a measure she called outlier index, OI. From there, she has worked hard to be innovative, research new means to provide tools for breeders, and to educate new breeds as they have begun this analysis and testing.

Natalie is a mother of six successful adult (or nearly adult) children. She has held many roles in her life and has a natural drive to learn. A journalist, who ran a successful newsweekly prior to google, Natalie also has been a dog breed advocate and leader in the Standard Poodle community for over a decade. Upon completion of the Standard Poodle diversity study at UC Davis, Natalie set out to create an easy to use and innovative online breeding software suite for all breeds. She completed this task by teaching herself to code, reading countless articles and contacting some of the world’s premier diversity and genetic relatedness experts. She now speaks occasionally nationally and internationally and enjoys her own standard poodles, with an occasional litter.

Rebekah Zurbrugg – Operations


In August 2017, we welcomed Rebekah to the team to aid in outreach and education of breeders. She works on educational tools, outreach to breeders, and day to day activities on the website. She is passionate about the preservation of purebred breeds and loves the dedication that goes in to stewarding a breed.

Rebekah Zurbrugg has a passion for purebred dogs and has ever since she was a child, when her parents raised German Shepherds. She is a mother of three young children, six years of age and younger. From 2002-2006, she attended Purdue University to earn an Honors degree in Biology (with a specialization in Neurobiology and Physiology) as well as minors in Psychology and Spanish. At Purdue, she researched parasitology as well as tutored in biology. In summers, Rebekah had many research internships in parasitology and neurology, from which she is now published. Originally she attended medical school at Ohio State University towards a MD but left to fulfill the important role of parent. Additionally, Rebekah and her family have a minifarm, currently with purebred Nubian goats. She continues to have a passion for genetics and physiology and enjoys showing standard poodles in her spare time.

List of publications

 Namat Katawazi – Technology

In September we welcomed Namat to our software development team. He’ll be assisting in improving breeder tools using his knowledge of computing, big data, and machine learning.

Namat Katawazi has had a passion and a track record of success in software development. He had taught himself how to repair computers and create websites as a hobby when he was young. Namat attended Rochester Institute of Technology to earn a degree in Information Technology with a specialization in advanced software development from 2007 to 2011. Since then he’s worked for companies of all age, size, and industry and has significantly contributed to both process and technology. Namat hopes to take his skill sets to the dog breeding world in conjunction with Rebekah and Natalie’s knowledge of genetics to help the dog breeding community breed healthier dogs. In his spare time he enjoys movies, fine arts, and playing classical violin.