Areas of expertise
+ Project management
+ Veterinary science
+ Genetic quality and breeding
+ Population genetics
What are your responsibilities at Envigo?
I’m in charge of all of the breeding schemes for our commercial colonies and the genetic quality of those models to ensure what we’re selling is the specific strain or stock that our customer is expecting. I’m responsible for coordinating and analyzing the routine genetic monitoring of our colonies across the globe. We also offer a whole portfolio of genetic testing services on animals and humans for clients, including sequencing services such as RNASeq, Whole Exome sequencing, and Whole Genome sequencing, which I also manage.
I act as the project manager for all internal and external projects for genetics, as well as cryopreservation and rederivation. I also present at national conferences, write papers, and help with marketing materials involving scientific projects and research.
What inspired you to pursue a career in science?
I have always loved science. My mother used to watch the science-based television program, NOVA, and I would watch it with her at a very young age. I was introduced to biology, nature, and science because she had a keen interest in those topics. I think I was always destined to be involved in some area of science. I also loved animals and for a long time, I thought I was going to become a veterinarian. I worked at a veterinary clinic in high school, but was also very interested in genetics as this area was exploding due to PCR (polymerase chain reaction) developed in 1983 by Dr. Kary Mullis.
I wanted a career that would allow me to combine my interests in genetics and animals. I went to college, worked in an animal science department, and it all came together for me in graduate school. I could be involved with animals and animal welfare as well as be part of working on treatments or cures for various human diseases. Envigo, in particular, is very conscientious about animal welfare and that makes me proud to work for them. That’s the number one priority for our company - animal welfare.
What are some of the best aspects of your job?
Travel is a huge passion of mine. I enjoy travel because I get to meet coworkers all over the world. I love to train and help people to make their jobs easier. I travel to our different locations across the United States and Europe for audits and typically provide extra training when I’m there. You can’t really substitute a face-to-face meeting, as it builds rapport among team members and you work more efficiently together.
I also really enjoy knowing that I’ve helped a customer complete a project that’s important to human disease research. It makes me feel like a small part of the solution. When we meet or exceed a client’s expectations and they communicate that back to us, it really makes me feel like we are having an impact on human health.
Do you miss working in the lab?
Absolutely. I love working with animals and I don’t get a chance to do that nearly enough. Also, genetic testing technology changes so rapidly, if you’re not actively in the lab actually working on projects, it can be a bit difficult to keep up. I understand all of the newer technology theoretically, but you gain a much better understanding when it is hands-on. I keep up with the changes in molecular genetics technology and animal science with in-person training, attending meetings and seminars, and reading current literature.
How does that hand-on approach help you as a manager and Envigo's clients?
Part of my job is to take very complicated and technical information and make it understandable and less intimidating for a variety of audiences. I have to be able to break it down for sales, technicians, and other staff who may be helping manage some of these projects. So, being able to learn hands-on in the lab myself will help me make it easier for others to understand and train them.
What are some key attributes to being successful in your role?
Management that trusts and supports is key to success in my role. We have an amazing management team that really understands what needs to be done and are willing to invest in the company. This helps us be more efficient with both internal and external projects, and supports continued improvement of our products and services for our customers.
What are your professional goals?
I’m very mindful, being a part of this industry in general, that we’re all helping each other with solutions within and outside the company - even if we’re competitors. We’re all working toward a common goal which is to create treatments and cures for human disease and lessen human suffering. We all work well together to try and meet that ultimate goal.
With Envigo’s acquisition of Horizon Discovery In Vivo Services, we have added a team that has a high level of skill and expertise in creating custom rodent models. One of my professional goals is to support this new team and assist in expanding Envigo’s service offerings. This will give us more flexibility to create new models for ourselves as well as customers.
I also hold an MBA in Project Management, and spend a large portion of my time at Envigo as a manager for various scientific projects. I am currently working on my PMP (Project Management Professional) certification through the Project Management Institute.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of Envigo?
Our family is very enthusiastic about camping, hiking and kayaking. We camp all over Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois. I also play several instruments, including the harp, guitar, piano, and my new instrument is the mountain dulcimer. I also sing in a competitive acapella chorus based in St. Louis.