What is your title and how long have you been with the UI?
I'm director of the instructional lab facility in the department of veterinary biosciences. I started here in 1986. I started at the UI as a physical chemistry researcher in 1980.
What does your job entail?
I'm in charge of the laboratory where we teach anatomy courses and physiology labs.
We make sure we have the materials and cadavers we need for the labs. We teach all the anatomy labs and the neuro anatomy lab. We assist Vet Med students, staff members, clinicians and professors in making available a variety of anatomical specimens for their use in research or as teaching models. Organization [for these labs] is one of the main tasks we have.
In addition to the work we do for the labs, we help provide specimens for all Vet Med displays outside the school. You'll see our skeletons, freeze-dried specimens and anatomical models at the ACES [College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences] Open House, the State Fair in Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fair.
In addition, I work with O&M to keep our coolers working. I also maintain a workshop here for Vet Med that gives graduate students a place to build things, such as displays, or apparatus for research.
We also have given old or broken bones to area grade-school teachers, so they could bury them in sandboxes and let their students be amateur archeologists. We provided examples of various animal teeth for a display at the Rockford Children's Museum.
Do you do this all by yourself?
No, Laura Anglen is the anatomy preparator and helps me with much of this. She prepares [embalms] the large animals, reconstructs skeletons and other anatomical specimens and teaches in the labs. Her job is much like mine in that we work hand in hand to accomplish everything that needs to be done around here. I couldn't do half the jobs around here without her.
You recently began an interesting project. What is it?
Someone donated a minature-horse cadaver to the school and we are reconstructing the skeleton. We've made most of the skeletons in our lab from cadavers. We take everything off the bones we can, boiling them to get the bones really clean and run them through a degreasing process. Then we bleach them and assemble them.
That sounds like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Do you have any kind of diagram to follow?
Well, it's like putting together a model without instructions. I've had some training that helps. I taught anatomy at Parkland Community College and in South Dakota.
Fortunately, the names of the bones in dogs, cats, cows and such come from the names of human bones. Since there's some similarity in how they're put together, [my knowledge of human anatomy] helps me know what goes where in the animal skeletons. But putting together the skeletons is still a matter of trial and error.
What's most enjoyable about your job?
I love seeing those light bulbs go off over the students' heads when they catch on to something. That's really great.