University of Findlay alumna Hanna Cook ’17 is making an impact on the world in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Columbus, Ohio, at Battelle headquarters, a global research and development organization committed to science and technology for the greater good.
Cook double majored in Animal Science – Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Biology with a minor in Chemistry. She is currently a technician in the Clinical and Nonclinical Research division at Battelle, where her daily duties include the care, husbandry, and welfare of laboratory animals, as well as assisting with study work. At Battelle, Cook looks at disease progression in animal models in order to find a way to mitigate the disease. She also has been able to work on Battelle’s Critical Care Decontamination System™ (CCDS™) project. “I have been directly involved in helping in the decontamination process of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers around the state of Ohio,” she said.
Cook is working on the frontlines of COVID-19 by helping with everything from receiving the contaminated PPE, loading the contaminated PPE into chambers where they will be sanitized, unloading the decontaminated PPE, and shipping them out to their respective healthcare locations. Since the outbreak of this pandemic, Cook’s day-to-day work changes often due to study needs and the amount of work on the CCDS™ project. “During the week I spend most of my time doing my technician duties. I might have a day or two working on the CCDS™ project and on the weekends, I will come in to work on the CCDS™ project,” she said. “It’s a lot more hours than my ‘normal’ day-to-day, but right now this is our new ‘normal’ and the work we do is important and needs to be done.”
During her time at the University, her biology and chemistry classes shaped her into the scientist I am today, she said. “The professors were absolutely amazing, the hands-on learning at the farms was so helpful, and the opportunity to work in a laboratory out in the field under Professor Justin Rheubert is one I will forever be grateful for,” she said.
For UF students hoping to work on the frontlines someday, Cook suggests being open to new opportunities and ready for anything. With the education Cook gained from UF, she was able to pursue her Master of Public Health degree specializing in Veterinary Public Health and earn a position at Battelle. “I never thought I would be working in a lab or in the field of public health, but I was able to take chances at learning new things and I kept my options open,” Cook said. “I found what I love to do and I am so happy with where I am now.”
While attending UF, Cook received the University of Findlay President’s Scholarship, the Choose Ohio First Grant, and the Tim Barhite Memorial Award for Excellence in Biology. These scholarships enabled Cook to learn and gain experience both in the classroom and in a laboratory setting which prepared her for her career of working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Without this support, it would have been very difficult to gain all that I did and ultimately my love for lab work; they helped me get where I am today,” she said.