In this month’s installment of PRIM&R’s featured member interviews, we hear from Jennifer Castle-Hickerson, a longtime PRIM&R member working in IACUC administration. This series is intended to let our community get to know our membership and hear about the impact they make through their daily work. Read on to hear from Jennifer!
PRIM&R: When and why did you join the field?
Jennifer Castle-Hickerson (JC): I became part of the lab animal field in 2001. I started out as an animal technician and transitioned into IACUC administration in 2003.
PRIM&R: What is one tool you use every day that you could not do your job without?
JC: Besides the use of Outlook for emails, calendar, and tasks to keep myself organized, I would say that I use the Guide almost daily.
PRIM&R: What’s one specific challenge that you have faced during your career, and how did you overcome it?
JC: The hardest thing that I've faced in my career is resistance to change. Each institution that I’ve worked at has had a few people who resist change and like to challenge each change by saying ‘we’ve always done it that way’. Even minor changes such as updating the protocol form requires a lot of patience to ease some people and get them to transition smoothly.
PRIM&R: What is one thing you wish the general public knew about animal research?
JC: I wish the general public knew how much the people in the lab animal world care about the animals. Without the animals being healthy and having their creature comforts met there would be no scientific discoveries being made. The animals really are everything to us and we are all looking out for their welfare in every aspect of our jobs.
PRIM&R: What is something you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first entered this field?
JC: One piece of advice that I wish someone had told me when I entered this field would be that even though I got into the field to work with and care for the animals, it really is working with and caring for the people that will make or break a program. You really need to be flexible in the way you go about dealing with any issues that arise.
PRIM&R: What motivates you to maintain your commitment to advancing ethical research?
JC: My motivation is the capability in supporting the scientists and their work, while at the same time caring and providing the animals with a safe and humane environment. The work that the scientists are doing are helping my loved ones who have cancer, Alzheimer’s, polycystic kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, etc. live longer and fuller lives, and that is my main motivation in supporting their work.
PRIM&R: How has membership in PRIM&R’s community of research ethics professionals helped you to advance in your career or do your job better?
JC: My membership with the PRIM&R community has allowed me to network with some wonderful individuals who have helped mentor me and guide my career. The annual IACUC conference is a great time to meet new people and to see if there are any tricks of the trade that can be brought back and implemented in the animal care and use program at my institution. PRIM&R has also allowed me to acquire the CPIA® certification, which helps to validate all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the course of my career.
Thank you, Jennifer, for your commitment to PRIM&R and to your field! We are honored to have members like you among our ranks.