At Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine researchers often focus on gaining information to help animals. Many times, however, this work translates to human medicine, which is the case for Dr. Kelly Allen’s research. Allen is an assistant professor in the veterinary college’s veterinary pathobiology department.
“My research focuses on arthropod-borne infections,” said Allen. “That means an infection transmitted by a tick, a mosquito or another type of fly, or a kissing bug. Currently we’re looking at a certain parasitic infection transmitted by kissing bugs that infects dogs but can also infect humans. In particular, we’re looking for increasing trends in infection in Oklahoma.”
Since earning her bachelor’s degree, Allen has been conducting research which equates to about half of her life.
“What excites me about my research is the small accomplishments from day to day,” she said. “It could be a novel or unexpected result, identifying a parasite in an insect you didn’t expect or in an animal you didn’t expect to find it in. A good day is when we can get a protocol working in the lab that we haven’t been able to or somebody cites work that we’re affiliated with, or a graduate student gets their first paper published. Those small things are very monumental on a day to day basis in a research laboratory setting.
“Success in research to me is perseverance. Rarely in science do we have a hypothesis, conduct our protocol and it works perfectly the first time. It takes a lot of trial and error to eventually reach your goal – that little bit of information that wasn’t known before. Anyone who is thinking about researching parasites, I welcome you to the field. Ever since animals have existed, parasites have existed. Parasites will continue to exist. They are complicated, dynamic organisms. There’s more than enough research to go around. As a veterinary parasitologist, I am very passionate about the field. I find parasites fascinating. Once you answer one research question, there’s another one around the corner.”
Parasitic infections are a really big problem, particularly in other areas of the world. While the research Allen and her team conduct will potentially help pets and people here, it could possibly help others around the world as well.
Vet Med Faces of Research is a monthly series designed to inform the public about the impact of the numerous studies being conducted at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Advancing knowledge and understanding for the benefit of the lives and livelihoods of the people of Oklahoma is a critical element of OSU’s land-grant mission.
CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU College of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 | email@example.com