I’m Kristi Prevost, and I graduated in the class of 2010 with a degree in Biology. I have always had a special interest in animals, have worked in various small animal clinics throughout my life, and have always wanted to pursue a career with animals. As a junior in college, trying to find a position with Dr. Fitzgerald for my senior research project, I decided to apply to a few marine mammal facilities for internships. I was fortunate enough to get an internship at Dolphin Cove in Key Largo, Florida. While there, I conducted a behavioral research project studying the social, dominant, and aggressive behaviors and interactions between the bottlenose dolphins there. I spent the summer in the Keys, getting a taste of what it would be like to live in a tropical setting and to work with exotic animals.
After my experiences that summer, I knew I might want to pursue a career with marine mammals. Going into my senior year, I hadn’t completely made up my mind about applying to veterinary school, so I decided that I would work for a year or two before making my next step. On the last day of my exams, one week before graduation, I received a call from my supervisor from Dolphin Cove. She wanted to know if I was interested in a full time position as a Dolphin Trainer in Key Largo; this was a phone call I was not expecting at all. I was offered a dream job, but one thing I was worried about was how far away from my friends and family I would be living. Despite these worries, I ultimately decided that this was an opportunity which I could not pass up. One week after graduation, I was on my way to the Florida Keys. If it weren’t for Dr. Fitzgerald’s senior research class and for all of my professors’ encouragement and support during my four years at CBU, and most importantly during my senior year, I would never have had this amazing opportunity or the courage to make this huge step.
During my time at Dolphin Cove, I learned so much about marine mammal life, conservation, and research. I had the best co-workers I could ask for: four Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. During my time there, I was exposed to a variety of research projects going on, helped to train and care for the dolphins there, and was also able to help out the veterinarians with various procedures. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and appreciate everything I learned, I decided that I wanted to move closer to home and try out a different field of research. I moved back to Memphis and started working at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the department of Infectious Diseases, which is where I am currently employed today. I work in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Webster. St. Jude is one of six WHO (World Health Organization) collaborating centers for influenza research and the only center that focuses on the transmission of animal viruses to humans. My lab is specifically dedicated to the study of antiviral drugs and influenza research. Throughout my time at CBU, I learned a lot which has helped me in my position at St. Jude, starting with Freshman Biology and Chemistry all the way up to Dr. Ogilvie’s Immunology class. I would say that immunology in particular has helped me the most in my position since I deal mostly with antibody-antigen interactions. Many of the laboratory techniques I use on a daily basis are ones which I learned during my time at CBU. I also conduct many experiments testing the efficacy of certain proteins/drugs against influenza using different animal models. I have been in my position at St. Jude for almost 2 years now.
All of my experiences at CBU and thereafter have lead me to where I am now, currently finishing my applications for veterinary school for the class of 2017. I hope to start in the fall and am looking forward to the next phase in my life!