Featured Member Profile: Amy Smith

Welcome to another installment of our featured member interviews where we will continue to introduce you to more of our members—individuals who work to advance ethical research on a daily basis. 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 Amy Smith, institutional review board (IRB) coordinator at Boise State University in Boise, ID.

When and why did you join the field?
During my sophomore year at Boise State University, I started working as a student employee in the office of research compliance. I had no idea such an office even existed at my university! In the beginning, I mostly put together protocol application files, printed labels, and delivered mail.

Over time, I was given more tasks related to the IRB, institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) and institutional biosafety committee (IBC). I was involved with the administrative duties of the committees and researchers, and became familiar with the federal regulatory requirements. After graduating in 2008, I was hired as the full-time IRB coordinator. Idid not see myself working in the field of research compliance when I started college seven years ago, but I am grateful to have discovered it. I plan to go back to school for a master’s degree in the spring of 2011, and have started studying for the CIP® exam.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Meeting new faculty and student researchers! I enjoy working to help researchers understand the review process and why the committee asks certain questions about research. I try to make the IRB a positive experience for our researchers.

I also appreciate having a job where I’m constantly learning. There is always a new guideline or interpretation of a guideline, and every protocol application is different. I’m relatively young and new to this field, but I enjoy the challenge of educating myself as much as possible. It has been a great professional working experience so far. (I am also able to put my English degree to use with all those policies and procedures that need writing!)

What’s playing on your iPod?
Lately, I’ve been rocking out to Jack Johnson, Minus the Bear, Ingrid Michaelson, some classic Salt-N-Pepa, and the soundtrack to Whip It.

What’s for dinner tonight?
Dinner will be out tonight at one of my favorite local restaurants in town, Bittercreek Ale House.

What’s your after-hours guilty pleasure?
My after-hours guilty pleasure is watching Gossip Girl on Monday nights with a glass of wine.

Why did you join PRIM&R?
My boss highly recommended I join.

What is your favorite member benefit?
The new complimentary access to selected PRIM&R webinar archives. It’s great to be able to get information from past webinars that I was not able to attend.

What would you say to someone who is considering PRIM&R membership?
Do it! If you want to continue in the field of research compliance you must be aware of and absorb a lot of information, especially guidelines and regulations. PRIM&R is a central source to find references and increase the efficiency of your own search efforts.

What motivates you to maintain your commitment to advancing ethical research?
I personally benefit from the results of research every day. I have Type 1 diabetes and am able to live because of insulin. I can check my blood sugar in five seconds due to advanced testing technologies. I have research to thank for that.

Perhaps there will even be a cure in my lifetime. However, even with all its exemplary accomplishments, I am aware (even from recent headlines about Guatemala) that research was not, and is not, always done ethically. I know that research can continue to progress and improve our world while protecting the individuals that are willing to give researchers the chance. Boise State is growing tremendously in research and I am eager to educate and support our student and faculty researchers about the importance of the IRB and upholding ethical standards.

Thank you for being part of the membership community and sharing your story, Amy. Join our CIP study group on Facebook to meet others preparing for the CIP exam. Good luck on your CIP certification exam!

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a member, please visit our website today.