Comparative medicine staff garners national awards

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public affairs | August 30, 2005

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Christy Neel
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Karen Thysen
Two technicians in UNMC's Department of Comparative Medicine -- Christy Neel and Karen Thysen -- have won distinguished professional awards.

Neel, research technician II, won the 2005 American Association for Laboratory Animal Science's (AALAS) Lab Products Animal Technician Award. Neel has worked at UNMC for three years. Wattana Barrett, lead technician in UNMC's Comparative Medicine Department, won the national award in 2004.

Winners were selected from a pool of eligible animal technicians from the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. Selection was based on the technician's work history, accomplishments, community involvement and benefit of the award to the UNMC program. Lab Products provides caging and watering systems to laboratory animal facilities.

Thysen, husbandry care technician, recently won the Nebraska branch of the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science (NEAALAS) Technician Scholarship Award. She has worked at UNMC for two years. The scholarship enables Thysen to attend the National AALAS meeting in St. Louis, Mo., in November.

"Christy, Wattana and Karen have attained national certification from AALAS, which reflects the highest standard of professionalism in the field of laboratory animal care," said Steve Dixon, DVM, director of UNMC's Comparative Medicine Department. "Achieving AALAS certification affirms that they have demonstrated the skills and abilities necessary to provide professional and humane care for animals used in UNMC's biomedical research program. Achieving these national and state awards is further testimony of their hard work and desire to excel in their field."

In addition, personnel in UNMC's Comparative Medicine have won the NEAALAS Charles River Technician of the Year award for the past four years. The award is based on excellence in performing workplace duties, and other related areas including participation in AALAS activities.

Dr. Dixon praised the UNMC Comparative Medicine animal care staff for recently attaining a 70 percent rate of AALAS certification based on eligible personnel. "This accomplishment is very difficult for an academic institution to achieve," Dr. Dixon said. "It is a pleasure to work with such well-trained, high caliber personnel."