AVMA science fellows get down to business

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Dr. Harris
Dr. Stic Harris
Dr. Cep
Dr. Melinda R. Cep
Dr. Rock
Dr. Kim T. Rock

The 2009-2010 AVMA Congressional and Executive Branch Science Fellows have been placed.

The two Congressional Science Fellows have accepted positions in offices on Capitol Hill while the Executive Branch Science Fellow is working for a federal agency supporting development around the world.

Dr. Stic Harris is working in the office of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, where he is dealing with such issues as health care, food safety, biologics, and infectious diseases.

Dr. Melinda R. Cep accepted a position in the office of Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut to work on matters related to agriculture, food safety, and public health as well as appropriations.

And Dr. Kim T. Rock, the AVMA Executive Branch Science Fellow, has joined the U.S. Agency for International Development. She is working in the African Bureau's Office of Sustainable Development, where she is helping manage projects affecting human and animal health in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the areas of zoonoses and food security.

AVMA fellows provide science-based knowledge and information to the public policymaking process. Additionally, the fellowship program offers veterinarians a wide variety of opportunities to learn how federal public policy is made and influence outcomes.

Fellows spend a year in Washington, D.C., beginning at the end of August, and receive a stipend, plus reimbursable expenses.

Dr. Harris has a DVM degree from the University of Georgia and a master's in public health from the University of Michigan. A former professional hockey player, Dr. Harris has worked for the Texas and Georgia state health departments on such topics as lead poisoning, prion disease, arthritis, and bioterrorism.

"It's an incredible feeling that I'm able to offer advice based on my education and background on topics that are very important to me," Dr. Harris said.

Dr. Cep is a graduate of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. As a student, she was an extern with the AVMA Governmental Relations Division as well as the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

"I am very excited to work on public health initiatives with the office of Representative DeLauro, who is a leader in congressional efforts to advance food safety and animal welfare," Dr. Cep said.

Dr. Rock is a Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine graduate and has a master's in international public health from the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Prior to accepting the AVMA fellowship, Dr. Rock was a clinical and shelter veterinarian at the Michigan Humane Society.

"I plan to take advantage of this opportunity to explore topics as diverse as women smallholder farming in Kenya, dog rabies in Ghana, and studies of the effects of climate change on African agriculture," Dr. Rock said.

For more information about the AVMA Congressional and Executive Branch Science Fellowships and the requirements, or to apply, contact Dotty Gray, associate director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, at (800) 321-1473, Ext. 3209. The application deadline for the 2010-2011 fellowships is Feb. 12, 2010.