Student Hightlight Interviews

Kacey B. Anderson, BS

The April 2014 Student Highlight Interview focuses on Kacey Anderson, born in Watertown, NY. Kacey received her BS in Chemistry from St. Lawrence University in 2008. Upon graduation, she was awarded an Intramural Research Training Award from the National Institutes of Health where she spent two years engaged in biomedical research in the Molecular Imaging Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health. At the end of her research position, Kacey was accepted into a PhD program in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. She is currently just beginning her dissertation work, which is focused on drug disposition and response in critically ill patients.

How long have you been a Member of ACCP? I have been a member of ACCP since September 2013.  

Please describe your studies/research? I am currently enrolled in the PhD program in the Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. I am in the Clinical Pharmaceutical Scientist track which is a unique program that allows students to study translational research from the bench to bedside. My research interests are focused on drug pharmacokinetics and response in critical care.  

Why did you choose the field of clinical pharmacology? Following my undergraduate training, I spent two years in a Post-Baccalaureate Research Training position at the National Institutes of Health where I became very interested in many of the research topics within clinical pharmacology. Over the past few years in my graduate training, I have continued to focus my research interests within my Clinical Pharmaceutical Track. I have learned the important role of drug pharmacokinetics and response in safely and effectively dosing a patient. This is particularly important in critically ill patients where there are a number of additional covariates that play a role in drug disposition and make this a difficult population to treat.  

Who was most influential to you in selecting your career path? While at the National Institutes of Health, I worked in a molecular imaging lab that develops and tests novel radiotracers for PET imaging. I quickly learned the importance of clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetic principles in all of our pre-clinical and clinical studies. My mentor, Dr. Sami Zoghbi, was incredibly valuable in helping me narrow my research focus and ultimately selecting the graduate education that would best suit me for a research career. Not only was Dr. Zoghbi an excellent mentor to me, but he taught me the creativity and dedication of a great scientist.  

What advice would you give to another Student considering membership in ACCP? Immediately after joining ACCP I began to see the value of a student membership in the organization. I would advise any student considering membership in ACCP to join and take advantage of the student opportunities as early as possible in your graduate education.  

What qualities have you worked on during your graduate studies to become a successful scientist? There are so many opportunities in graduate school to develop qualities and skills to become a successfully scientist. Through my laboratory I have been able to learn the methodology of in vitro and in vivo studies. It’s important to learn what skill sets you want to develop in graduate school and then seek out opportunities to achieve them. The area of pharmacometrics was less familiar to me when I started graduate school. Through my courses, journal clubs, and research projects, I have been able to learn how to critically analyze the field. I think in addition to research skills, it is important for graduate students to develop excellent written and communication skills. Regardless of which career path you choose, your ability to clearly articulate your work, publish papers, and write grants, will be a key determinant to your success. I have sought out opportunities to improve my writing through grant workshops, manuscript reviews, and poster presentations. There are also a number of different platforms to present your work while in graduate school both regionally and nationally. Not only will this give you the opportunity to network and share ideas among the scientific community, but it will allow you to develop your presentation skills. Lastly, I have tried to develop skills in leadership and teamwork while in graduate school by serving on student committees that allow me to work on projects with my peers. These skills I believe will be important for me to become a successful scientist.  

How has involvement in ACCP helped shape your career and what benefits have you enjoyed as a result of being an ACCP member (Mentoring, Committees, posters at Annual Meetings, etc.? I presented my research at the ACCP meeting in Bethesda, MD in 2013 and was honored to receive a Student Award. At the conference I had the opportunity to present both a poster and podia presentation of my work. Both opportunities allowed me to practice and further develop my communication skills. Additionally, as a student award winner I also had the opportunity to attend the ACCP Awards Dinner which gave me the opportunity to meet many different members of ACCP. ACCP also connected me with Dr. Joseph Ma who kindly offered to review my CV and provide valuable advice to improve my resume.

How would you recommend that students get involved in the various initiatives of the college? Attending annual meetings is a great and easy way to become involved. Presenting at the meeting is always a benefit and attending the student focused events is also beneficial.  

Please tell us about your experience as a Student at the ACCP annual meeting or on an ACCP Committee? Attending the ACCP annual meeting offers a number of unique opportunities for students. I had the opportunity to present my work at the last annual meeting and also have my CV reviewed. I was surprised at the number of opportunities I had to network with fellow students and experts from academia and industry during the meeting. The poster sessions offer a great chance to meet with professionals from a diverse background. Also I attended a Student Career Advice Panel which was given by a panel of experts in industry, academia and consulting. Not only was it a great opportunity to hear about different career options, but we had the opportunity to ask questions from the panel about their experiences in their current positions. What networking opportunities are available for students attending the ACCP annual meeting?  

Poster sessions are a great time to meet other attendees. There was also a student-focused career panel that offered the chance to ask questions and discuss with the speakers at the end. I had the opportunity to attend the Awards Dinner at the annual meeting and this was a great chance to meet others and network during the reception and dinner.

What are some of the long term benefits of getting involved in ACCP as a student? I am still in contact with a number of professionals in industry and academia who I met while attending the ACCP meeting.  

What do you do when not working (i.e. other activities like sports, art, music etc.)? I am an outdoor enthusiast. I enjoy hiking, biking, rock climbing, and skiing, to name a few. Time is limited in graduate school, but I take every opportunity I can to get outside. I also volunteer with Venture Outdoors so that I can encourage others to lead a healthy lifestyle and get outdoors.