I entered my graduate training fully intending on a clinical career. Then two experiences early in graduate school changed my career path. The first was two statistics classes with an incredible professor, which led me to a love of efforts to make sense out of data. The second was being hired as a research assistant by an amazing multidisciplinary research team that included a MFM physician, a neonatologist, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and a developmental psychologist. They were nationally known for their work on pregnancy alcohol and drug use, and associated fetal and childhood outcomes. They shaped not only my love for research, but also my specific interests, which have focused largely on pregnancy tobacco use and fetal and childhood effects.
What brought you to the University of Colorado, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine?
The position of Clinical Research Director for Maternal Fetal Medicine seemed a perfect fit for me. I have been doing research in this field my entire career, and am also coming from a research director position where I gained a passion for mentoring faculty, fellows, residents, and medical students in their research efforts. I also love Colorado and my husband and I were thrilled with the opportunity to live here!
Which particular award or achievement is the most gratifying to you?
I was named East Tennessee State University’s Notable Woman of 2014, an award given each year to a female faculty member whose work advances understanding of women and their lives. While the attention surrounding the award was a bit embarrassing, it was satisfying to me to know that efforts throughout my career have made a difference in the lives of women.
What would you consider to be the most significant discovery/innovation in the past 10 years for the field of Women’s Care?
I think the Affordable Care Act, which has given women better and lower cost access to reproductive and general health care services, has had a bigger and more direct impact on women’s health than any specific medical discovery or innovation.
What techniques do you use to manage your time effectively?
Staying organized is by far my best tool for making sure I am on top of multiple work and personal demands. I am pretty meticulous about my digital and physical filing systems, keeping detailed To Do lists, staying on top of emails, and I try never to leave at the end of the day without making sure everything is put away and organized. I think I am borderline OCD!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Take time every day to live in the moment.” This was advice given to me about 10 years ago by my husband. I have spent my whole life focused on working so hard to get from point A to point B, and rarely stopped to just enjoy life and those around me. That bit of advice has really led me to appreciate life so much more – from truly being present with my children, to enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend, to stopping to appreciate a small accomplishment, or just being able to enjoy sitting with my feet up and watching the sunset.
What are some of your future goals and plans for the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine’s Clinical Research efforts?
One of the projects I am very excited about is developing an ongoing research database from clinical information available from prenatal patients seen in department clinics. The MFM faculty have some very interesting research questions they would like to pursue, and having a readily available database to start looking at some of those would go a long way toward advancing their scholarly work, especially early pilot efforts in the absence of any major funding.
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
National Hockey League referee
Where can you most often be found on a weekend?
If it is fall or winter, I will be in front of the TV watching college football and NHL hockey, cheering on my Michigan Wolverines and Detroit Red Wings.
What is the best place you have traveled to, and why?
I have been to so many beautiful places, in both North American and Europe, as my husband and I love to travel. But my answer has to be Dachau Concentration Camp in Munich, Germany. It was sad and horrifying at the same time, but it made me truly appreciate what I have. It also made me realize that even in 2017 we are a long way from everyone in our society being treated the same and having equal opportunities, and that there are still so many people who need fighting for.
What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
My family. Being a mom has been an important part of my identity, and as my kids grow older and are leaving home, I find something missing in my day to day life. Fortunately, they call, text, and visit often, and my husband and I now have time for new things!