Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

In the Limelight: Jane Heller

Associate Professor Jane HellerName: Jane Heller

Position: Associate Professor in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health

Organisation: School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Charles Sturt University

Career Brief: After a BSc and BVSc I worked as a companion animal veterinarian before heading back to the University of Sydney to do an intern year, which was followed by a Masters. I then went to the University of Glasgow where I was employed as a research fellow. I completed at PhD in antimicrobial resistance and my specialist training for veterinary public health while at the University of Glasgow. I came back to Australia in 2009 to take up a lectureship in veterinary epidemiology and public health at CSU and have been here since. I am now employed as an Associate Professor.

Research and Teaching Activities and Interests

Research activities

The main theme of my research is bacterial zoonotic disease and my research fits firmly within the One Health sphere. I have a particular interest in antimicrobial resistance and the shared responsibility of human and animal spheres to address this pressing public and animal health issue. I currently have projects on E.coli O157, Q fever, MRSA, Brucellosis, Antimicrobial stewardship and Chlamydia psittaci.

Teaching activities

I am currently a discipline lead for the BVSc/BVetBiol degree, with responsibility for the middle third of the degree (Phase 2 – runs over 2 years), which covers the problem-based learning component. I also coordinate a first year subject “Introductory Veterinary Epidemiology” and a fifth year subject “Public Health and Biosecurity 2” in the vet degree. I teach into a number of other subjects as well, with the aim of making epidemiology, public health and evidence-based medicine something that is accessible and interesting to our students (it’s a tough gig!).

I am also very interested in student mental health and, with Lynne Hayes, have implemented a wellness program, “The Odyssey Program”, for the vet students to try to promote wellness and self-care.

I also currently supervise a number of fantastic PhD students, who inspire me with their dedication, interest and knowledge in their areas of research.

Professional Links

I am a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists, in the Epidemiology and Public Health chapters. I obtained diplomate status of the European College of Veterinary Public Health in 2010. I am a member of the Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, the National Epidemiology Teaching Network, the Public Health University Network and have examined for the ANZCVSc since 2015. I sit on the MLHD Infection Control Committee, am a member of the “One Health Partnership” national expert group, am an expert member of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Pilot Program, run by the Australian Veterinary Association and am an executive board member for the ‘SnakeMap’ project, run by ANZCVSc. I am also contributing to the Athena Swan application process for CSU, which is a program that aims to enhance gender equity in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine).

A typical day for me includes …

Responding to emails, teleconferences / meetings with collaborators, PhD students and other members of SAVS, some epidemiological analyses (I wish I had time for more), reading student work (PhD and Honours mostly) and reviewing papers, organising and delivering teaching (during session time) and a few more meetings for good measure!

My main project at the moment is …

Completing an internal review on Phase 2 teaching within the BVSc/BVetBiol degree. In terms of research, it is developing an exciting project on antimicrobial resistance and stewardship across animal industries.

My favourite part of my job is …

Being a disease detective!  I LOVE establishing new links and figuring out why disease occurs and spreads as it does. I also love contributing to student wellness and interacting with our amazing undergraduates – and seeing them start to understand and use epidemiological concepts is a bonus. My final favourite part is being part of the transformation that occurs in HDR students – watching them gain confidence and skill and leapfrog me in terms of ability is just priceless.

When I am not in the office I like …

Spending time with my gorgeous family. I have two very busy girls and it’s a challenge to keep up with them on most days. I also like spending time in the garden and on our property in general – watching the sun set from our verandah with a gin and tonic is probably my favourite thing to do.

When I am driving I like to listen to …

Bad 1980’s tunes. But I mostly end up listening to whatever my kids think is cool at the moment.

 

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