Student Spotlight: Casey Cazer

Casey Cazer

January 7, 2019

Casey Cazer is a doctoral student in biomedical and biological sciences from Canandaigua, New York. After earning her undergraduate degree at Harvard University, she chose to pursue research in population medicine and epidemiology at Cornell.

What is your area of research and why is it important?

I research antibiotic resistant bacteria in humans and animals with an emphasis on bacteria that are resistant to multiple drugs. Resistant bacteria cause over 700,000 deaths worldwide per year and this is predicted to increase to 10 million deaths by 2050. My current research uses association rule mining, a machine learning technique, to study trends in antibiotic resistance. For example, we recently showed that E. coli from U.S. chickens and chicken meat had consistent multiple-drug resistances from 2004 to 2012. Currently I am applying this technique to resistant infections in dogs and humans in order to improve monitoring of antibiotic resistance in hospitals.

What inspired you to choose this field of study?

In veterinary school I became interested in the connections between human and animal health, often termed One Health. Antibiotic resistant bacteria don’t really discriminate based on host species so antibiotic resistant bacteria in animals can be a risk to human health and vice versa. As a veterinarian, I see the impact of antibiotic resistance when antibiotics don’t cure infections because the bacteria are resistant. My long-term goal is to research the transfer of antibiotic resistant bacteria between humans and animals and use that knowledge to promote the sustainable use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine.

What did your CIRTL and Graduate School conference travel grants allow you to do?

The CIRTL and Graduate School conference travel grants allowed me to attend the 15th International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which is one of the largest meetings of veterinary epidemiologists in the world. I presented two abstracts on my antibiotic resistance research and connected with other veterinarians working on antibiotic resistance. I also participated in a special section on epidemiology education and learned about new educational tools, integrative programs, and innovative curriculums for teaching epidemiologic concepts to veterinary and graduate students.

How has your involvement in CIRTL and Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI) programming shaped your graduate experience?

CIRTL and CTI programming has helped me develop my teaching skills and document my professional growth. ALS 6015 was a valuable introduction to active learning and pedagogy. As a capstone project, I created an electronic portfolio which I have turned into a personal research and teaching website to document my professional development. I also participated in ALS 6014 to enrich my public speaking skills. In both courses, I connected with other graduate students passionate about teaching and I’ve used this learning community to get constructive feedback on my teaching.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of your research or scholarship?

I enjoy horseback riding and spend a few mornings each week at the barn with Willow, a sweet draft-cross. I also still work part-time as a small-animal veterinarian because I enjoy helping people keep their pets happy and healthy. But most of my free-time is spent with my fiancé Andy and our two crazy cats, Momma and Chino.

Why did you choose Cornell to pursue your degree?

Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine has a large population medicine and diagnostic sciences department with many accomplished veterinary epidemiologists. I knew that I would get excellent training in epidemiology and have an opportunity to pursue newer techniques like machine learning. The College of Veterinary Medicine also commits time and resources to supporting veterinarians who want research training.