AVMA Members Working to Advance Animal and Human Health through Research
Professor of Food and Waterborne Diseases, Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
BS Zoology UC Davis, MS Physiology UC Davis, DVM and MPVM UC Davis, and PhD Ohio State University. My current position is Professor Food and Waterborne Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine Washington State University.
Do you have any pets?
A cat named Seamus – 14 years in the family, he was dropped off at a friend’s house and finagled his way into our house.
What is the focus of your research?
My research, teaching, and outreach interests are at the intersection of animal agriculture systems and the rural, suburban, and urban communities that interact with these systems. I am most interested in understanding and supporting efficient, sustainable, and healthy food systems that promote food security and public health. My research is broadly on the ecology of food-related pathogens (with an emphasis on multiple antimicrobial resistant bacteria) on animal production units and describing dissemination. This includes the local and regional ecology of pathogens of public health significance such as Salmonella, the risk factors and biology for the occurrence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and policy issues involving the rural and urban geographic interface. This work has also resulted in an active program in developing approaches to transfer research knowledge to inform agricultural, animal health, and public health policy. The policy program has grown to be a multi-institutional and disciplinary program that incorporates the fundamentals of leadership, communication, and policy formulation that are integrated to address the compelling issues that face our global animal health systems.
What is the scientific and clinical significance of your research?
There are two significant elements to the research: describing the movement of antibiotic resistant bacteria (pathogens and non-pathogens) using ecological principals and field based observations and working closely with field veterinarians, producers, and farm employees to improve our understanding of animal care systems and develop effective outreach tools to inform those systems.
What do you find most enjoyable about research?
I have the good fortune to work at both the bench and in the field which helps me to stay grounded and connected with the people and animals most affected by the research.
What advice do you have for veterinarians considering a career in biomedical research?
Veterinarians know a thing or two about competing, learning, and excelling in academic environments and a research career guarantees that you will never stop competing and learning. The skills and knowledge gained from your veterinary training will serve you well in a research career but as you prepare for that career find a training program that matches your research interests but also one that will mentor you in the life-long writing, research design, communication, and critical analysis skills that are the foundation of a successful research career.
See how other AVMA members are advancing animal and human health