Bioethics Blogs

Compassion and empathy are necessary: An interview with Astrid Haakonstad

by Megan Frame, membership coordinator

This month, in honor of Member Appreciation Month, we will introduce you to a new member of the PRIM&R community each week. We’ll learn about their professional experiences, personal interests, and, of course, what keeps them committed to advancing ethical research. This week, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Astrid Haakonstad, regulatory compliance associate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Megan Frame (MF): When and why did you join the field?
Astrid Haakonstad (AH): I quite literally fell into it. I started my career as a technical writer but did not enjoy the work and did not feel fulfilled by it. I went back to school to become a licensed veterinary technician (LVT). While I was in school, I joined the University of Michigan’s IACUC office as a temporary employee. I didn’t know much about the field at all; I just wanted some type of job involving animals. I learned a lot about the field and really began to see the importance of the work. When a compliance position became available, I decided to stay.

MF: What skills are particularly helpful in a job like yours?
AH: Good communication skills (written and spoken) are essential, especially since many of the researchers I work with speak English as a second language. Attention to detail, ability to multitask, and problem-solving skills are important as well. However, I also want to add that compassion and empathy are necessary; not only because of the animal welfare aspect, but also because of the effect that research involving animals and noncompliance issues can have on the research community and public at large.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.