Patience and persistence: An interview with Jami Peelle

by Megan Frame, membership coordinator

Welcome to another installment of our featured member interviews where we introduce you to 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 Jami Peelle, faculty grants and fellowships coordinator and IRB administrator at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.

Megan Frame (MF): When and why did you join the field?
Jami Peelle (JP): I am a librarian by training, and when I first agreed to do grants work at my institution ten or so years ago, I joined a wonderful network of people who do grant work for small colleges. At my first gathering with these incredibly generous colleagues, they were all talking about IRBs and IACUCs. I finally had to ask what in the world they were talking about. I returned to my campus to find out that we didn’t really have a formal IRB. I was assigned to set ours up and soon found that PRIM&R was the leader in providing education on the protection of human subjects in research and the operations of an IRB.

MF: What skills are particularly helpful in a job like yours?
JP: Ability to find information, patience, and persistence.

MF: Tell us about one or more articles, books, or documents that have influenced your professional life.
JP: I love the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and was thrilled when the author, Rebecca Skloot, gave a keynote address at PRIM&R’s 2010 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference. The book helps start discussions on many topics pertinent to the college community, including the ethical conduct of research. A number of faculty here find Laud Humphreys’ Tearoom Trade an interesting case study for thinking about potential problems in social science research.

MF: Have there been any PRIM&R events or talks that you have attended that have had a significant impact on your approach to your work? If so, what were they and how did they influence you?
JP: I have been to a number of PRIM&R’s annual conferences which are always interesting and useful, but the most important PRIM&R conference I have attended was the 2007 Social, Behavioral, and Educational Research (SBER) Conference. There is always an SBER track at the AER Conference, but having SBER front and center was terrific. The SBER focus made networking easier.

MF:  How has membership in PRIM&R’s community of research ethics professionals helped you to advance in your career?
JP: I found the At Your Doorstep program very helpful in designing and providing an IRB program for our college consortium. It was tailored and presented beautifully for us by the dynamic J. Michael Oakes, PhD. We found Professor Oakes’ experience with IRB review of undergraduate research invaluable.

MF:  What is your proudest achievement?
JP: I am very proud of the establishment of our IRB and our website. I believe we provide our students with an excellent foundation in the ethics of human subjects research, which will serve them well as they continue on to graduate programs. It is my belief that the IRB review of undergraduate research projects results in higher-quality research experiences.

MF: Is there anyone, living or dead, who has inspired you in your career and/or in life?
JP: There have been many who have inspired me in one way or another: friends, colleagues, family, and teachers. In my work with responsibility in research, I owe much to our first IRB chair, Ric Sheffield, JD, and to my Colleges of Liberal Arts Sponsored Programs colleagues.

Thank you for being part of our membership community and sharing your story, Jami. We hope to see you at future conferences, including the 2014 Advancing Ethical Research Conference, where representatives of the Henrietta Lacks family will be joining us for a conversation on the importance of the Henrietta Lacks case and its legacy for the research community.

Additionally, PRIM&R will host the 2015 SBER Conference on November 12, 2015, in Boston, MA. Mark your calendar and stay tuned for more details about the conference!

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