From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
Like most classified staff members, Michael McLaughlin and Robert Snyder serve the needs of students and faculty. But their responsibilities also include nonhuman clients. As the Bowling Green State University Animal Facilities technicians, they care for research subjects such as pigeons and rats. In addition, they maintain the research facilities for faculty and students in the areas of biology, forensic science and psychology.
Their dedication to their wards and to enabling research to be conducted in a clean, safe and compliant situation have earned them the 2017 Classified Staff Team Award. The award was presented May 17 at the annual Classified Staff Council reception and ceremony. The team will share a $1,500 award and their names will be displayed on a commemorative plaque in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
Caring for animals is a seven-day-a week job, with no holidays and no two days the same. The University has two on-campus facilities plus a satellite location. McLaughlin and Snyder work diligently to ensure that not only are the needs of the animals met, but also the needs of the faculty, staff and students who utilize the facilities in their own important work, said Jenifer Baranski, director of BGSU animal research facilities.
Each research project is different, with different requirements, but all must meet strict federal guidelines for safety and the well-being of the animals. McLaughlin and Snyder are thorough and careful in maintaining these standards while making sure that researchers have what they need to conduct their studies.
Dr. Jon Sprague, Bureau of Criminal Investigation Eminent Scholar and director of the Center for the Future of Forensic Science, is also now the chair of Bowling Green’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which is tasked with ensuring that the University is in compliance with all regulations. “BGSU has received and continues to receive positive inspection reports, which is due predominantly to the efforts of Mike and Rob,” he said in his letter of nomination for the Team Award.
Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus Lee Meserve, who spent 13 years as IACUC chair, noted that “since Rob and Mike interact with experimental animals on a daily basis, they become the de facto eyes and ears of the IACUC” and provide helpful hints about how to better care for and maintain the animals.
The team’s efforts have built for BGSU a strong reputation among outside research partners as well as vendors and others who visit the labs, Baranski said.
Meserve, who as a faculty member in biological sciences used laboratory animals for all his nearly 45 years at BGSU, said McLaughlin and Snyder were always more than willing to help with the difficult task of preparing his lab animals’ special diet and did so in a timely manner. They are also very diligent about keeping cages clean, handwashing them when the automated washers were out of order to maintain standards as well as the integrity of the research.
Sprague is also among the many who have benefited from the pair’s expertise and commitment. When he joined BGSU in 2014, he was eager to establish his research laboratory to continue his research into drugs of abuse. “Mike and Rob were enthusiastic and more than willing to assist and educate me on the services the UAF could offer my laboratory and students,” he recalled. “They work very well with students,” and his students have often commented about how efficient and helpful they are, he added.
McLaughlin and Snyder “are always seeking ways to make the facility husbandry operations more efficient in both cost and procedures while keeping quality of service at a maximum,” Baranski wrote. “For instance, this year they brainstormed new methods of housing research pigeons to increase housing space while decreasing the need to purchase more racks — pigeon housing racks typically cost about $12,00 per stack. They were able to come up with their own wall-mounted caging that exceeds all animal care standards while saving the department thousands of dollars in the purchase of new equipment.”
In another instance, a new researcher urgently needed a way to hold water bottles for his animals in a certain way in order for his experiment to work properly. McLaughlin and Snyder quickly arrived at a solution that, again, not only worked but met all standards of care.
“In summary,” Meserve said, “Rob and Mike epitomize a team that goes above and beyond their job descriptions to the benefit and betterment of BGSU.”