Mentor shares passion for research with ORISE participants
Amy Vincent, D.V.M., Ph.D., fondly remembers accompanying her father, a veterinarian, on farm visits as a child. Her fascination with animals, medicine and science grew alongside her responsibilities in her father’s veterinary practice. When she applied for college, she did not know she would follow familiar footsteps.
After three years of pre-med classes, Vincent switched her major to veterinary medicine. Today, she holds doctorates in veterinary medicine and immunology from Iowa State University. She is a research veterinary medical officer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, Iowa, and a longtime mentor of ORISE participants in the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Research Participation Program.
This program provides opportunities for students, postgraduates, established scientists and faculty to participate in programs, projects and activities at ARS-designated facilities to help ARS solve agricultural problems of high national priority.
At NADC, Vincent serves as the lead scientist for a swine influenza project. Vincent, along with several ORISE participants she mentors, are investigating ways to reduce the morbidity and mortality in swine caused by influenza A viruses.
“This virus is so exciting to study because it can infect many hosts and mutates rapidly,” said Vincent. “It is also a major human health concern, as some influenza A viruses can be shared between people and pigs.”
Vincent spends her time running a laboratory, executing experiments, interpreting results and writing scientific articles for publications, in addition to managing staff and USDA ARS Research Participation Program participants.
Over the past five years, Vincent has mentored participants in various disciplines like immunology, molecular virology and bioinformatics. She credits her mentees with pitching new ideas, delivering results and advancing the capabilities of her research far beyond what she could accomplish working alone.
“Bringing new graduates and early career scientists together from multiple disciplines has allowed for growth in our research program. Their excitement about research, designing and carrying out good experiments, and sharing ideas and techniques has truly enriched our research program,” she said.
According to Vincent, these individuals make day-to-day challenges easier through their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and solve problems. She is grateful not only for their contributions, but also the opportunity to help these participants evolve as scientists in a world-class research setting.
She wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Getting to see participants grow while they are here and move on to the next stage of their successful careers has been a great experience overall,” she said. “Right now, I am where I need to be. I would not have had the opportunities, nor could I do the type of research I do at NADC anywhere else in the world.”
The USDA ARS Research Participation Program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), which is managed by ORAU under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.