Say hello to Monique Pairis-Garcia, a mom, an avid bird-watcher with a passion for science and as of June an associate professor of global production animal welfare at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine.
What is your background?
I grew up in Idyllwild, California, a tourist town in the mountains with about 3,000 people. I was a typical pre-vet student with a passion for science. I thought I would be treating cats and dogs. I majored in biology at Grinnell College in Iowa and then went to vet school at Iowa State.
How did you happen to get into this field?
When I went to Iowa State I became interested in large animal medicine — they had a lot of livestock there. I got my DVM there and also got a Ph.D. there in animal science with a focus on managing pain in swine.
What will you be doing in your new job?
It will be 50% research, 30% teaching and 20% working in extension and outreach. I have a focus on animal welfare, including from a global perspective. That is, from hobby farms to large-scale agribusinesses. We need to improve management practices to optimize animal welfare. I hope we can put more emphasis on our overseas work to improve training and education there, so they can also improve their practices. I hope to be able to work with large universities or companies there in Latin America — places like Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador.
What are you most excited about in your new role?
I’m excited about the opportunities for collaboration, and to work with people like Duncan Lascelles on pain management issues and to push myself beyond my comfort zone. We have a very strong network of senior faculty here.
What’s something someone would be surprised to learn about you?
I never touched a pig until I got into veterinary school. I think the assumption usually is that if you go into swine medicine you probably grew up around pigs on a farm. But going to vet school was a chance for me to rethink what I wanted to do.
When you’re not on campus, where could we find you?
I have two little boys — Victor is 3 and Lorenzo is 6. So I spend a lot of time with them. We like to try to identify the different kinds of birds we can see on our acreage in New Hill.