Respond in a calm, professional manner: An interview with Kristen Kenney

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. 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 Kristen Kenney, assistant director, Office of Research Integrity and Compliance at Children’s Hospital of Chicago in Chicago, IL.  

Megan Frame (MF): When and why did you join the field? 
Kristen Kenney (KK): I graduated with a degree in veterinary technology from Michigan State University (GO GREEN!). I began working in research as an assistant scientist at a pharmaceutical company in 2002. In 2008, I made the transition from working with animals to research administration and compliance. This seemed like a natural transition as I was able to blend my respect for animals and my experience as a scientist, and I found the perfect job for me: IACUC administration!

MF: What skills are particularly helpful in a job like yours?
KK: Having an open mind to other perspectives, experience in performing research with animals prior to working in research administration, and organization.

MF: Tell us about one or more article, book, or document that has influenced your professional life. 
KK: After reading All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot at a young age, I was convinced that I wanted to work with animals. Dr. Herriot’s adventures as a veterinarian sounded exciting and rewarding, and although I did not end up with a career as a veterinarian, having the motivation to care for animals eventually led me to where I am today. I am happy to be in a position that oversees the protection of animals used in research.

MF: Have there been any PRIM&R events or talks that you have attended that have significantly impacted your approach to your work? If so, what were they and how did they influence you?
KK: Recently, I attended panel discussion on Practical Strategies for Conducting Harm/Benefit Analysis of Animal Research at the 2013 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Conference. I appreciated the various viewpoints represented during this discussion, and in particular, Dr. Allyson Bennett’s perspective as a principal investigator. She presented a well-balanced approach to reviewing animal protocols and reminded the group to look at the possible long term benefits of a specific project. Naturally, I tend to look at the immediate impact a procedure may have on the welfare of the animal. Hearing Dr. Bennett speak reminded me to consider the overall picture when it comes to research.

MF: What advice have you found most helpful in your career? 
KK: I’ve learned there is a difference between responding to a situation and reacting to a situation. Responding in a calm, professional manner always leads to the best outcome.

Thank you for being part of the membership community and sharing your story, Kristen. We hope to see you next year at the 2014 IACUC Conference in Denver, CO!

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