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USDA Research Agency Honors Information Expert / February 13, 2002 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Jean Larson


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USDA Research Agency Honors Information Expert

By Amy Spillman
February 13, 2002

BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 13—Jean Larson, a technical information specialist with the Agricultural Research Service, will receive the agency’s “Excellence in Information” award today in a ceremony at the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.

Larson heads the Animal Welfare Information Center at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville. The library is part of ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

The motivation behind Larson’s award-winning work can be traced back to a 1985 Congressional amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The amendment called for a new service—the Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC)—at the National Agricultural Library that would provide information about improved methods of experimentation that could reduce, refine or replace animal use in research, education and testing; improve employee training in animal well-being, and provide for environmental enrichment of non-human primates and exercise for dogs.

Larson has been in charge of AWIC since its inception. Under her direction, it has become an invaluable resource to the scientific community, most notably for the development of search strategies that help researchers, teachers and educators locate information resources that address animal pain and distress and provide alternative animal models, procedures and techniques.

In 2000, AWIC staff answered more than 14,000 information requests from administrators, researchers, students, veterinarians and the public. During the past 10 years, thousands of participants from pharmaceutical companies and major federal, university and commercial laboratories have attended AWIC workshops on the information requirements of the AWA.

The AWIC staff is constantly developing and updating information products. Under Larson’s direction, AWIC publishes a semiannual bulletin on animal care and research issues that circulates to more than 7,500 individuals in 43 countries. Larson also led AWIC’s production of the Compendium of Animal Resources CD-ROM, and she and her staff have created numerous bibliographies, directories and manuals, as well as a training video. The staff maintains and continually updates the extensive AWIC web site that averages more than 67,000 hits per month. In 1991, AWIC received the American Library Association’s prestigious John Cotton Dana Award for its effective outreach programs.

The “Excellence in Information” honor is awarded to an ARS employee for outstanding contributions to the ability of the agency to coordinate and deliver information services and technologies that support agricultural research and education. Larson’s citation is “for 15 years of outstanding leadership in developing information products and services aiding researchers in meeting the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.” ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling will present Larson with a cash award and a plaque at the Feb. 13 ceremony.

Larson has worked for USDA for almost 27 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in zoology from Elmira College in 1962 and her master’s degree in zoology from Boston University in 1969. She lives in Laurel, Md., near her twin daughters and grandson, who reside in Baltimore.

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Last Modified: 2/14/2002
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