After leaving Philadelphia in 2006 to head to Ohio State University (OSU) for veterinary school, Erin Brannick thought that she and her husband were done with the east coast. “We both decided—or we thought—that we were mid-westerners,” said Brannick. Little did she know that in five years time, she’d be back by the Atlantic, working at the University of Delaware.
Hired in September, Brannick, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and the director of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Comparative Pathology Laboratory, said that she knew UD was the place for her the moment she arrived for her interview. “I love UD and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I would say that from the moment I came for my interview, it was immediately this sense of peace and this sense of home.”
Brannick said that all of her colleagues have been wonderful and loves how open everyone is to research collaboration. She notes that she has “been really impressed with the caliber of the students as well. I’ve gotten wonderful chances to meet quite a few of the pre-veterinary students as they’ve come in to talk with me about various things. Just to hear about their experiences here and how excited they are about the University and what it has to offer has been very encouraging.”
Brannick has already met with potential students as well, serving as a recruit for the students interested in the University. After sitting in on a single recruiting session for Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean for student services at CANR, Brannick recalls that the very next day, Yackoski asked if she could meet with a recruit as early as that Friday. Brannick joked, “ ‘Do you think I already know enough to do this?’ But it was a lot of fun. I had a great student. I remember my own undergrad recruiting sessions where you go and talk with professors and I remember the ones that really stood out to me, so I hope to provide that to students considering UD.”
Having completed her undergraduate degree at Wittenburg University, a liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio, Brannick went on to veterinary school at OSU where she earned her veterinary degree (DVM) in 2006 and then her masters degree and ACVP-board certification in veterinary pathology in 2010.
It was near the end of her stint in OSU veterinary school that Brannick decided that she wanted to be a veterinary pathologist instead of a small animal private practitioner. Brannick likened veterinary pathology to putting together pieces of a puzzle, connecting the dots between healthy and un-healthy animal tissue, and then diagnosing a disease. “Compared to what I would expect in a normal tissue, what is different? And when you see something different, whether it’s inflammation or cancer or a degenerative process or anything, then it’s up to you to put the pieces together.”
UD will benefit from this pathology expertise as Brannick heads the Comparative Pathology Laboratory. The lab is located in Worrilow Hall and Brannick said that she works there with Joanne Kramer, a research associate in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. While the majority of their work supports the poultry diagnostic laboratories of Delaware and Maryland, the two “welcome outside submissions, even outside of our department, and we’re happy to collaborate when people need advice or just thoughts on how to proceed with collecting tissues.”
Another area where Brannick will help CANR is that she is a valuable resource for any student interested in applying to veterinary school. Having served on the veterinary admissions committee at OSU, Brannick has been involved behind the scenes and knows what admissions committees are looking for in candidates.
“The big things that veterinary schools are going to look for are strong academic skills, strong leadership and involvement both in the University and also in community,” in addition to varied animal experience and strong communication skills.
Brannick said that she welcomes students and faculty to stop by her office, 41 Townsend Hall, to discuss plans for veterinary school or upcoming research projects.
“I would say that I have an open door policy, even when my door is closed. When you’re doing diagnostic work, you sometimes have to concentrate so carefully that it’s easier to work when the doors are closed but anybody is welcome at anytime.”
Entering her third month of working at the University of Delaware, Brannick is indeed happy to have returned to the east coast and excited to call CANR home.
Article by Adam Thomas