Annette O'Connor - Dairy Spotlight
Chairperson of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
It is great to have the opportunity to introduce myself to the dairy community of Michigan because although I arrived in Michigan in Feb 2020, I don’t know Michigan State or the State of Michigan anywhere near as well as I had envisioned yet. In 2021 I hope to get around more. I am a quantitative epidemiologist and veterinarian by training. Before working at Michigan State, I was at Iowa State University for 20 years. I did my training at the University of Guelph, the University of Queensland, and the University of Sydney. I’m also a fellow of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Epidemiology. My doctoral thesis at Guelph was about assessing vaccines to control bovine respiratory disease. My research program is still focused on helping producers and veterinarians understand how effective antibiotics and vaccines are including in dairy cattle. Recently we have done work to determine how well teat sealants work in dairy cattle and comparing different dry cow therapies. I also work on vaccines to reduce pinkeye for beef and dairy cattle. Those who know my research know I haven’t been able to find a Moraxella-targeted vaccine that works on the farms yet - but I’m still looking!
I am very interested in maximizing the value that society realizes from investment in research. I work with researchers to improving their understanding of study design, appropriate analysis, comprehensive reporting, and appropriate synthesis of research. I have been fortunate in my career to work with Dr. Jan Sargeant, a colleague from the University of Guelph, to write several reporting guidelines to help researchers provide comprehensive reports of trials and observational studies. Those reporting guidelines include the REFLECT statement published in 2010 for randomized controlled trials and STROBE-Vet Statement published in 2016. These reporting guidelines are compiled at the MERIDIAN network (https://meridian.cvm.iastate.edu), a compilation of reporting guidelines related to animals. These efforts are part of a significant community effort to improve the accessibility of research in agriculture. The other area I work in a great deal is research synthesis, mainly systematic reviews and meta-analysis. These are formal ways to synthesize research to save veterinarians time by transparently compiling research. I host a website where people can learn about and register systematic reviews (www.syreaf.org). Apart from research, I am a bike commuter and enjoy playing tennis, although I am not particularly good, and I had a pet kangaroo as a child growing up in Australia.