Do What You Enjoy Doing: An Interview with Alison Pohl

By Maeve Luthin, JD, professional development manager

Welcome to another installment of our featured member interviews where we introduce you to PRIM&R’s members—individuals who work to advance ethical research on a daily basis. Over the course of the past few months we have been shining a spotlight on members of the CIP and CPIA Councils. Please read on to learn more about their professional experiences, how membership helps connect them to a larger community, and what goes on behind-the-scenes in their lives!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alison Pohl, research compliance monitor and IACUC coordinator at the University of Connecticut Health Center. 

Maeve Luthin (ML): When and why did you join the field?
Alison Pohl (AP): I came to the field by accident. I was working as a clinical laboratory scientist out in California when I heard about a job at a biotech company that wanted a California-licensed clinical laboratory scientist. It was the same work (clinical microbiology), only the “patients” were laboratory animals. It was a great job because it led me to get more and more involved with the regulatory aspects of using laboratory animals. When I moved back to Connecticut, I continued working on the regulatory side.
ML: What prompted your interest in joining the CPIA Council, and why did you agree to serve?
AP: I think it is really important to “give back” to your professional community. I believe in the CPIA examination, and I was in the first group that took the examination back in 2007. I was honored to be asked to serve on the CPIA Council and hope that I contribute to its mission.
ML: What skills are particularly helpful in a job like yours?
AP: Organization is key!  There is always so much going on when you oversee a laboratory animal care and use program. It would be impossible to keep an eye on all you are doing if you couldn’t organize your work well.
ML: What advice have you found most helpful in your career?
AP: Do what you enjoy doing. We all work over eight hours a day. When you are doing something that you enjoy doing, or believe in, it doesn’t feel like work.
ML: What is one thing you wish “the person on the street” knew about your work?
AP: I would love it if people realized that there are a multitude of laws and regulations governing animal research in the United States. People hear a lot from animal rights organizations, and it would be great if research organizations themselves were more vocal about laboratory animal use. Most people in my life—family, friends, etc.—have no clue that laws exist to oversee animal use in laboratories.
Thank you for being part of our membership community and for sharing your story, Alison!
Hear more from Alison during session D12: Connecting the Committees: IACUC and IBC at the 2015 IACUC Conference.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a member, please visit our website today.