What is your current career stage?
Mid-career (when and how did this happen?!?).
With which institutions and departments are you affiliated, and what position(s) do you hold?
Clinical Pathology Section
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology
College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Colorado State University
Who were/are your past scientific mentors?
While I have many professional mentors whom I could credit, I would actually like to take this opportunity to highlight two NIH Program Officers, Drs. John Williams (NIA) and Anthony Kirilusha (NIAMS), for their tremendous support, encouragement, and advice through the years. I honestly do not know if I would be where I am today without them. Of note, they have been participants at every ORS annual meeting since I started attending… please be sure to take a moment to acknowledge them!
Can you give us a brief overview of your research?
Very briefly, I will work on any project that provides an opportunity to maintain or improve independent mobility. As such, I currently address research topics that involve osteoarthritis, sarcopenia, tendinopathy, neurodegeneration… and more!
How did you get involved in orthopaedic research?
My original intent while attending veterinary school was to pursue a career as an equine orthopaedic surgeon. As part of this path, I became involved in orthopaedic research during a summer research project… and never looked back!
How has the ORS supported you?
The largest way in which ORS has supported my research is by supporting my research team. Specifically, ORS offers a critical platform for my trainees/mentees to have a professional network and outlet for presenting their research.
What is your favorite thing about the ORS?
The annual meeting is a fabulous experience, both for myself and my trainees!
Why do you believe diversity and inclusion is important?
Long-standing sets of expectations and guidelines have allowed our profession to reach a certain point… but have also revealed deficiencies in progress and associated research gaps (particularly population gaps). We desperately need to identify and encourage new perspectives from outside-of-the-box thinkers who come from diverse backgrounds to overcome these hurdles.
What are your career goals?
While I plan to continue the independent and collaborative projects that I currently pursue, I am excited to be transitioning to playing larger roles in NIH training and program grants.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your scientific career?
A continuing challenge that I face in my professional career is dealing with the dreaded “imposter syndrome.” While introspection and inner criticism can lead to stronger science, this double-edged sword also allows self-doubt and an inability to accept praise or appreciate accomplishments.
Any personal interests or hobbies you would like to share?
My oldest son and I are active horseback riders and currently participate in mounted archery. Trying to accurately shoot targets while riding on the back of a galloping horse is, by far, the most challenging athletic activity (equine-related or otherwise) in which I have engaged!
What personal advice would you give to new investigators starting out in the field?
There are two overarching recommendations (one professional and one personal) that I would provide to new investigators. First, I would encourage individuals to resist being disappointed if the data generated during studies does not neatly fit into expectations and/or initially seems to have “failed.” Some of my most intriguing studies resulted from data that did not match my original hypotheses – indeed, being “wrong” turned out to be much more interesting than if I had been “correct!” Resist dogma and listen to the science, even when others doubt.
Second, while I admit that I still struggle to utilize this suggestion myself, the personal advice that I would offer to new investigators is to determine your own definition, and associated metrics, of career “success”… and to embrace that it is absolutely acceptable if your path varies from what other individuals might pursue. Let yourself be who you are – and be proud of such!