OUR BRAD CHAMPIONS

BRAD Champions are passionate advocates for animal research and increase BRAD participation in their city, state, and region. Each month, we are highlighting one of our incredible BRAD Champions. Read the BRAD Champion Spotlights below and check back each month to learn about another Champion and their role in outreach and education.

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KRISTEN BAGLEY

Emory University & Yerkes National Primate Research Center

BRAD Champion Since 2021

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion?

I LOVE everyone’s support! It is so nice to have a crowd of people who are passionate about education, outreach, and the BRAD mission. I appreciate that we support each other's endeavors and cheer each other on!

What drives your passion for outreach and education?   

I have been involved with theater and performing arts since childhood. Outreach and educational activities provide a unique outlet for me to blend my love of performance with my passion for science. The content of my events is 100% science-based, and the delivery incorporates performance tactics that I have learned over the years to maintain audience engagement.
 

How do you balance your career with outreach and educational initiatives?

The professional answer: I have many tactics that I use to stay organized. I put everything down into online calendars, and I set myself deadlines to ensure I can do both. It helps so much that my institution supports the BRAD mission and supports my involvement 100%.

 

The overly honest answer: I am still figuring it out! I am very early in my career, and time management is one of my biggest challenges. There are not enough hours in the day to do all the things I would like to do, but I am viewing this challenge as a learning experience. I hope to be involved in outreach and educational activities throughout my career, and the sooner I learn how to balance, the better!

 

What are your plans to expand BRAD participation in 2022 while sharing the importance of animal research?

I plan to identify novel audiences and establish relationships with new kinds of institutions. Who are we not yet reaching? I want to develop activities to foster genuine engagement with these audiences. I also plan on creating lots of documentation to make it easy for others to recreate similar events and activities at other institutions and audiences.

What is your favorite laboratory animal species and why? 

Rhesus macaques! They are the perfect blend of adorable, sassy, fun, and interesting. I love monkeys!

What is the most unique or interesting research/experiment in which you have been involved? 

One of my favorite summer research projects was collecting ultrasonic vocalizations in a rat model for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Rodents communicate with each other by making noises above our hearing range (ultrasound). I had a special microphone and computer software that allowed me to record, analyze, and playback their calls.

 

I recently caught up with my research mentors, and they let me know that they have been learning a new way to facilitate the recording of the ultrasonic vocalizations. Their protocol now involves TICKLING the rats. How cute is that?

 

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BR AD event?

When designing your event, don’t be afraid to incorporate humor. Comedy is a powerful communication tool. Jokes help keep your audience engaged and will make your content memorable. Humor has been highly effective for me in the past, and I strive to incorporate it into my future events whenever it is appropriate!

 

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FREDERIC CHATIGNY

Teacher at Cégep de Sherbrooke

BRAD Champion Since 2021

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion?

I love being able to help spread BRAD across Canada and to be a part of this great initiative to bring facts concerning biomedical research to the general public.

What drives your passion for outreach and education?   

I am a strong believer that skills and information are useless if not shared. Research is important to keep improving our general knowledge as well as the health of humans and animal alike. Animal research is still an integral part of this process and it is important to share facts so that the general public knows it. I also think that outreach is a good way to promote the well-being of people in the field of biomedical research who often feel like they cannot share what they do.


How do you balance your career with outreach and educational initiatives?

I think the key is to find an organization that is supportive of educational and outreach initiatives. It is also quite possible to do activities during lunchtime and within your institution. I think if you really want to do it, you can find a way.

 

What are your plans to expand BRAD participation in 2022 while sharing the importance of animal research?

I am currently teaching future animal health technicians at a local college, so I hope to be able to use this platform to educate students in the program and hopefully host events to educate students outside of it as well. I am also planning on visiting elementary and high schools during the early summer to do activities to promote and educate kids about biomedical research. I also hope to be able to present at the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science (CALAS) symposium to promote BRAD in Canada. 

What is your favorite laboratory animal species and why? 

I have not worked with them a lot, but I would say pigs. They are incredibly intelligent and a joy to work with.

What is the most unique or interesting research/experiment in which you have been involved? 

Probably my MSc project which investigated the use of local anesthesia in rainbow trout. Working with fish and evaluating their behavior was very interesting.

 

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BR AD event?

Make sure to keep it simple, yet informative, entertaining and most of all adapted to your audience.

 

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JACLYN STEINBACH

Head of Small Animal Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

BRAD Champion Since 2020

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion?

I love promoting BRAD to share my passion for biomedical research.

 

What drives your passion for outreach and education?   

My love for my job in biomedical research and the importance of our work is what drives my passion. Having a career that benefits both the health and welfare of humans and animals is very rewarding, and I think it is important for the general population to learn more about it. Also combatting misinformation is something I feel very strongly about. 


How do you balance your career with outreach and educational initiatives?

I set aside specific time to focus on outreach so that it does not interfere with my career. It also helps that my job is very supportive of outreach education.

 

What are your plans to expand BRAD participation in 2021 while sharing the importance of animal research?

My hope is that the pandemic will continue to improve to allow for more in person outreach programs at my institution.

 

What is your favorite laboratory animal species and why? 

Nonhuman primates. They are so fun and rewarding to work with. 

What is the most unique or interesting research/experiment in which you have been involved? 

mRNA therapy to treat cancer

 

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BR AD event?

Start planning early and recruit a committee at your institution to help.

 

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DEBORAH CALANTROPIO-COVINGTON 

Veterinary Scientist/Veterinary Technician at Bristol Myers Squibb

BRAD Champion Since 2019

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion?

The energy of the people involved. It’s great to be a part of a team where everyone wants more and more bigger and better each year for such a great cause.

 

What drives your passion for outreach and education?   

Being an advocate for good science and proper animal care within the research world. I want to be able to showcase the amazing work we do along with high quality animal care to the public.


How do you balance your career with outreach and educational initiatives?

I’m lucky to work with managers who encourage education and outreach along with a work life balance. I have team members who volunteer to help coordinate events as well as assist with tasks and projects. It’s a great dynamic to be able to juggle so many important tasks.

 

What are your plans to expand BRAD participation in 2021 while sharing the importance of animal research?

Currently we are working on more virtual participation ideas to allow scientists on our own campus to learn about the work we do in the vivarium and how it impacts their work and patient lives down the line. I’m also working to recruit other institutions such as animal hospitals and technician schools to participate.

 

What is your favorite laboratory animal species and why? 

Hamsters. I think the are downright, hands down the most adorable thing on the planet (besides pandas of course) and so fun to create housing and enrichment standards for. They can be a bit difficult to work with, but once you finesse handling for low stress it’s quite easy.

 

What is the most unique or interesting research/experiment in which you have been involved? 

Reproductive and embryo work. I think it’s amazing how much we can do for the lives of both the unborn and the mothers because of the animal work being done.

 

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BR AD event?

Don’t hold back! If you think it would be fun or silly, try it! You’d be surprised what folks like and what brings them back each year. We do a “how many pellets are in the mouse cage” game where we fill a cage up with food and have folks guess how many are in the cage and it’s ALWAYS a hit, it gets them to the table where we can then hand out flyers, swag and educate them on our animals and staff.

 

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ANGELIQUE COLBY, LVT, RLATG, CPIA

Research Compliance Coordinator - Senior at University of Texas Health - San Antonio

BRAD Champion Since 2019

What drives your passion for outreach and education?  

Our field needs voices, and I hope that I can inspire our community to support animal research (for people and animals).

 

How do you balance your career with outreach and educational initiatives?

The institution I am at is excited about BRAD and allows me to spend time working on these initiatives.  I work hard to keep up my daily work, so I can spend time on outreach activities.

 

What are your plans to expand BRAD participation in 2021 while sharing the importance of animal research?

I have reached out to the local vet tech program, a magnet high school, and a veterinary clinic here in San Antonio.  I hope to work closely with them to ensure the information reaches more members of our community.

 

What is your favorite laboratory animal species and why? 

Baboons!  As a vet tech (a few years ago) I worked closely with baboons and love their disposition.

 

What is the most unique or interesting research/experiment in which you have been involved? 

I worked closely on research to do with epilepsy but also with wound vac research that saves MANY lives each year!

 

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion?

I love being able to show people that animal research is important (for humans and animals).  Most people don’t know that the animal research that is done for humans can be used in animals.  It is a great feeling when someone walks away with a better idea about our field.

 

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BR AD event?

Don’t be afraid to just DO IT!  There is so much support from the BRAD team, that you have someone to help you if you need it.  Once you’ve hosted one, you will want to host it year after year!!

 

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THOMAS D. PREVOT, PHD

Project Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 

Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

BRAD Champion Since 2020

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion?

This is super exciting, because BRAD gives a platform and the motivation to think about increasing outreach. Being a BRAD Champion gives me the opportunity of interacting with others that share my passion for biomedical research, and organize events for outreach.

What drives your passion for outreach and education? 

Knowing the impact that our work can have really drives my passion for outreach and education. More than ever, the world realized that we need biomedical research. There are still diseases that we do not understand and that we cannot cure, and there are emerging disease that nobody could expect. Biomedical research is critical to help in this matter, and to develop treatments. 

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BRAD event? 

My first tip would be to decide on your audience. Then try to craft an event that is manageable for you and your team, so it does not add unnecessary stress to your effort. Then use the material on BRAD website and talk to your Champion or to BRAD representative. They/we are always happy to help.

What is the most interesting research in which you have been involved?

I am involved in a translational research program, and I lead a group that develops novel medication to treat memory deficits in depression and aging. That is a mountain to climb, because it is a complicated axis of research, with a lot of regulation, but the benefit to the human population is huge.

What is your favorite laboratory animal species and why?

I love mice. To share an anecdote, the staff in my animal facility calls me the “mouse whisperer” because I have a particular relationship with mice. I developed a handling technique that reduces stress in mice, and facilitates interaction with handlers

And why do I love mice … I can’t really say. I find them very easy to work with, while most scientists prefer rats. I also think that mice provides many great opportunities regarding scientific questions that can be answered working with them.

How do you balance your career with outreach and educational initiatives?

To me, there no real balance to have because everything in my career has a component around outreach or education. Training and discussing about biomedical research is part of my job, and is part of my daily routine. With students, family, friends or strangers, I think that a simple interaction, or description of our work is already a way to participate in outreach. Increasing outreach does not necessarily mean spending time and efforts; it is just a way of discussing and sharing information.

 

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LISA STANISLAWCZYK
IACUC Specialist at Bristol Myers Squibb

BRAD Champion Since 2019 

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion?

It makes me feel like I am making a difference to educate the public about the truth and reality of biomedical research.  We love and ensure the health and welfare of the animals.  We want to do right by them, and we want to make sure people know about it. My father just passed recently from his battle with cancer and my mother is still fighting her battle with cancer.  Time is precious for those that science and research allow extra time to be together with one’s loved ones.  I appreciate the opportunity to explain to those that are unaware, why biomedical research is necessary.

What drives your passion for outreach and education? 

My love for our research heroes that do so much to help both human and animal kind.  The privilege to work with animal heroes to discover treatments that allow humans and animals live longer lives.  It became a passion of mine when a facility I worked for was targeted.  There was an infiltrator that took video and audio which was then cut and pasted and sent to TV stations.  It was completely untrue and really affected all of us that worked so hard to maintain the high standards of welfare we were proficient in.  From that point on, I have always been open about my career and explain to those I meet, the high standards maintained due to regulatory and accrediting organizations that come into our facilities.  There are both external and internal standards and regulations that are followed.  Individuals are always surprised about 2 things I go into detail about.  1. There is community representation on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) which is a regulatory requirement and all procedures and protocols are reviewed by the IACUC.  2.  It seems to always hit the mark when I ask if they have pets.  I speak about the vaccines, treatments of conditions, food, etc.  People have no idea that all these items are required to be tested prior to going to market and many conditions that ail humans, ail animals.  This is why through years of research, we are able to continue to find cures and treatments for our family, pets, friends, and wildlife!

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BRAD event? 

I think doing anything that will be colorful and grab someone’s attention helps.  But the most important thing is to get your IACUC involved, get vet sciences and researchers involved - anyone that will be comfortable to speak about their part in the process.  Make sure there is preparation in regards to what each will talk about for the questions that may be asked. Know your audience.

What is the most interesting research in which you have been involved?

It may not be the most interesting, but it was something that did not feel like work! There was an inquiry to dose rhesus macaques (monkeys) orally, without any restraint.  I was already performing positive reinforcement training within the colony.  I was able to use a syringe with a stainless steel rodent gavage needle.  This way they wouldn’t be able to bite down on it, and we could dose with accuracy.  Rhesus macaques are so smart and the training sessions were my favorite thing to do.  We used kool-aid to entice them to drink.  What kid doesn’t like some kool-aid!  Then I kept reducing the amount of kool-aid until they would reliably and voluntarily take it.  Getting to shape the behavior to “drink” even if it didn’t taste great was an accomplishment that I enjoyed and felt proud of.

 

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Robbie Champion
Operations/Technical Manager at Bristol Myers Squibb

BRAD Champion Since 2019 

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion?

Besides working alongside other passionate individuals in my industry, I love to talk about what I am passionate about and being able to encourage and be a part of others sharing their passion.  

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BRAD event? 

Start small, highlight your passion.  Use the resources you have, collaborate with other institutes if you are small. Advertise and promote within your institution.  Build on that foundation in subsequent years and branch out to other activities and events.

What is the most interesting research in which you have been involved?

When I worked for Yerkes National Primate Center, I was a lab manager for the MRI facility.  I was responsible for the care of the animals undergoing MRIs.  This work was very fascinating because they were trying to find the fine line where the animal can be light chemically restrained where their brains were still active.  This provided a means to conduct functional MRIs in an attempt to map the brain.   

How do you balance your career with outreach and educational initiatives? 

Sometimes it is easy to over commit.  We all want our outreach and educational initiatives to be robust and amazing events.  Only commit to things you are passionate about because it will feel less like work. Saying ‘no’ is okay as well.  

 

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LEXIE SMITH, DVM, DACLAM

Senior Clinical Veterinarian

BRAD Champion Since 2020 

What drives your passion for outreach and education? 

I have been involved in the biomedical research field since undergrad in one form or another. I quickly gained an immense respect for the work, the animals and all the humans who have dedicated their lives to advancing our understanding of basic sciences, which ultimately leads to finding cures to the seemingly incurable. I found myself proud of the work I was doing and fascinated by the animals I was caring for. However, I was also simultaneously frustrated that I could not always freely boast about my career, at least not without being prepared for some tough conversations surrounding animals in research. 

 

I love teaching, and truly believe that knowledge is power. By educating the public and working to increase transparency into the amazing world of biomedical research, I believe we can take down the negative stereotypes surrounding this field, while also lifting barriers that often slow or impede progress altogether. 

 

My drive to continue BRAD outreach is fueled by the hope that scientist and caregivers will no longer be hesitant to talk about their amazing achievements they have all made, both in terms of medicinal advancements, but also in animal science, behavior, and welfare improvements. In return, I hope they will be honored and revered for their work.

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BRAD event? 

Start small and set an achievable goal! Trying to have a booth, educational talks, and tours for your first event will just get messy and overwhelming. Rather, reach out to this group or to colleagues to see what worked well for them and start to evolve one perfect first event. Keep track of your contacts and document what worked well. This will help you create bigger and better events in subsequent years. 

What is the most interesting research in which you have been involved?

This is incredibly hard to choose just one, but I think seeing the evolution of the type 1 diabetes mellitus research in diabetic cynomolgus macaques really sticks out. One aspect of this study involved the use of porcine pancreatic islet cells protected by various biomaterials that were implanted into the mesentery of the macaques as a potential and hopeful cure for type 1 diabetes.

How do you balance your career with outreach and educational initiatives? 

I have been lucky to work at very BRAD-friendly and supportive institutions. These institutions have not only allotted me time and resources to create BRAD events but employee equally passionate people who have volunteered their own time to be part of BRAD committees to work on expanding the understanding of what goes on in our department to the greater population of the institutions. I have organized researcher talks with undergrads at one institution, where the use of animals in research was highlighted, emphasizing WHY these models are necessary. Another educational initiative that was a huge success, was having retired research beagles come in as ambassadors to spark conversation about how and why they are used in research. The balance comes with open and honest discussion with bosses and management to garner support and allow time for such events. It is also important to prioritize what aspects of outreach can be done outside of work, or which aspects require on the clock support.

 

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RACHELLE STAMMEN, DVM, DACLAM

Clinical Veterinarian at Yerkes National Primate Research Center

BRAD Champion Since 2019 

What drives your passion for outreach and education? 

The desire to build public trust in science and animal research drives my passion for outreach. Historically, scientists and lab animal professionals have been reluctant to speak openly about animals in research. Consequently, this has led to a spread of misinformation and decreased public trust and support. This is important because public opinion influences how biomedical research is regulated and funded, which in turn impacts quality science and animal welfare. I absolutely love my job and I love teaching and engaging with people, so proudly educating others about the animals I care for and why they are so important is rewarding and fun for me.

What do you love about being a BRAD Champion? 

I love the camaraderie and support between all the Champions and the BRAD/AMP team. It is awesome being part of a group of people who share the same enthusiasm for outreach and lab animal medicine. I love the encouragement and the ability to bounce ideas off one another.  

 

What is one tip for someone who is hosting their first BRAD event? 

I recommend figuring out your target audience, then go from there (vet students exploring different specialties, undergrads or high schoolers looking for career opportunities, fellow lab animal professionals you want to educate on how to talk about what they do, etc).  This helps really customize your event. Then, I recommend checking out BRAD’s website for amazing resources and tips on how to host an event. You can even contact a BRAD Champion for help! 

What is your favorite laboratory animal species and why?

Rhesus macaques are my favorite lab animal species because of their spunky and boisterous personalities and intelligence. These qualities combined with their sophisticated social dynamics and similarities to humans make rhesus macaques so fun and interesting to work with. Luckily for me, they are also the most common nonhuman primate in biomedical research, and I get to work with them every day as a vet at a primate research center!