District 8 Trustee Reports

2021 Summer Trustee Report

I hope everyone has been able to find some enjoyment this summer, despite the early wildfire season and the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. I’m sorry this newsletter is getting out to you so late; in addition to a career change, a long-overdue family visit, and my dog needing emergency surgery (he’s doing great now, BTW), I just returned from the AALAS BOT Summer Session and Leadership Summit in Memphis. This annual event normally takes place sometime in June. This year, however, due to the pandemic, we decided to postpone the Summit by a few months.

A t the Leadership Summit, current and incoming standing committee and advisory council chairs work with the BOT and staff liaisons to evaluate the strategic plan and develop committee tasks for the following year that fulfill the board approved goals and objectives. This year’s Summit also included diversity and inclusion training for our organization leaders. Even though we had to wear masks the entire time, our facilitator did a fantastic job keeping our training lively, engaging, and relevant. While it has been a longstanding goal of AALAS to attract, engage and develop a diverse and inclusive membership; I found it refreshing and encouraging that we continue to examine how to ensure we are providing the best service and opportunities for all of our members. Thank you to AALAS Past-President Tracy Parker, President Doug Taylor, and Vice-President Marc Hulin for leading the charge.

The question I’m sure everyone is asking is, what’s up with the 2021 AALAS National Meeting? We are proceeding with holding the meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, October 17-21, in a hybrid format - registration is now open for in-person and virtual attendance: https://www.aalas.org/national-meeting/general-information/registration. Early registration ends on September 27, so be sure to register now! T he A ALAS Housing Bureau is now open: https://book.passkey.com/gt/218201024?tid=608ad6d27ed9f143a56e2d751a9aa275, so reserve your hotel room while they are still available. This year’s meeting will have all of the features you love about the National Meeting - high-quality presentations, networking opportunities, exhibitors, AALAS Foundation live auction, though some events, such as the Technician Fun Fair and the AALAS Foundation silent auction will be held online this year instead of on-site. More details are available in the preliminary program: https://issuu.com/aalasoffice/docs/2021_aalas_national_meeting_prelimina..., I want to take this opportunity to congratulate our newly elected officers, Vice President-Elect Robert Quinn and Treasurer/Secretary Tim Mandrell. For the complete election results, visit https://www.aalas.org/get-involved/election to see the results for the Trustee and Alternate Trustee positions that were up for election in other districts this year.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the National Meeting in October. Until then, please enjoy the rest of your summer, stay safe, and remember to take care of yourself. As for me, I’ll be meeting with your District 8 Council Representatives later this week (virtually), then seeing how many days of fishing and kayaking I can get in before it gets too cold.

Tom Chatkupt, DVM 
Trustee, AALAS District 8


2021 Spring Trustee Report

Here in Portland, the days are finally getting longer, and I’m finding myself going home while it is still light out.  The crocuses have come and gone, and I’m starting to greet my neighbors on the sidewalk again.  But we’re all in masks, which is a reminder that it has been just over a year since the global pandemic was declared.  And while the death toll has been tragic, there is hope on the horizon as more and more people receive their COVID vaccines. 

 Your local AALAS branch has been hanging in there for the past year; if you haven’t renewed your branch membership, now is the time.  Many branches continue to offer monthly webinars and lecture series as they adhere to their commitment to uphold AALAS’ mission of advancing responsible laboratory animal care and use to benefit people and animals.  Please check your branch’s newsletter or social media posts for upcoming events.

The AALAS national office has continued to be able to support the laboratory animal community, as I learned at the BOT Winter Session:

  • AALAS’s financial health is solid.  Even though we finished 2020 with a deficit due to reduced income related to the pandemic, we were able to cover that deficit with a budget excess from 2019 and by participating in the federal Paycheck Protection Program.  I’d like to express my appreciation for our Executive Director Dr. Ann Turner and the rest of the AALAS office for their dedication to ensuring the financial health of AALAS.
  • AALAS membership also continues to be strong, having surpassed 15,000 members at the end of 2020. 
  • Looking for information on the latest LAS products and technology? Learn from 36 LAS industry experts at AALAS’ first-ever Demo Day. This free event takes place April 27-29. Each day will have a morning and afternoon session. Sessions will run from 10 AM CT to Noon CT and then from 1 PM CT until 3 PM CT on each of the three days. Experts in the field will present information in 15-minute segments followed by a 5 minute Q&A where attendees can ask questions and interact with presenters. 
  • The BOT Liaisons for each standing committee summarized their committee’s recent activities and ongoing goals.  Everyone has been busy! The BOT approved the proposed 2022 Chairs for these committees, as well as the Vice-Chair for the 2022 National Meeting Program Committee.
  • The BOT approved a motion to waive the 2021 AALAS National Meeting registration for the winners of the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS) Americas Regional Committee Travel Award.  More information about this award is available here
  • Speaking of the 2021 AALAS National Meeting, it is still scheduled to take place in Kansas City, Missouri. The meeting will be both virtual and on-site. The on-site registration will include the virtual platform. The topic submission deadline was March 15, but the platform presentation deadline is open until June 1.  I will have an update after the BOT Summer Session, which is scheduled for early August.  In the meantime, be on the lookout for announcements from AALAS as well as posts in the AALAS Community Exchange (ACE)

Please stay safe and well as we move into our second year of the pandemic.  I’m sure that you share my hope that COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths decline as vaccinations increase.  If all goes well, perhaps we’ll meet up in person at the 72nd AALAS National Meeting in Kansas City, or at the 2022 District 8 Meeting next spring!

Tom Chatkupt, DVM 
Trustee, AALAS District 8


2020 Fall Trustee Report

It seems like with every newsletter I write this year, there is a new set of challenges to contend with.  My thoughts go out to all of you who are still impacted by this summer’s forest fires.  I know at least one person at work whose house was totally destroyed by wildfire.  Now we are dealing with the challenges of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, remote learning for our school-age children, or worse, living with our college-age children. 

I hope you will be able to take some time out of your busy days to enjoy the virtual AALAS National Meeting, which is only days away. AALAS President Tracy Parker was almost clairvoyant when she chose the theme of this year’s National Meeting, “Overcoming Challenges.”  Presentations within this theme will encompass a variety of topics, including managing laboratory animal care programs during a pandemic, overcoming challenges in rodent pain management, and expanding your network in a meaningful way.

This year’s National Meeting is free for all members!  Registration is still open, though if you are just now registering you might not receive access by opening day.  Visit https://www.aalas.org/national-meeting for more information.  The virtual format will allow you to access content on-demand until December 31, 2020.  But there are a few events that will be live.  Be sure to catch these events in real-time:

  • Opening General Session
    • When: Sunday, October 25, 2:00-3:30 PM PST. 
    • What:  Awards will be presented.  Visit https://www.aalas.org/get-involved/awards/award-descriptions for more information. AALAS leaders will report on achievements over the past year.  And Keynote Speaker Brant Menswar, author of “Rock ’N’ Roll With It: Overcoming the Challenge of Change” will help you find inspiration and growth through the lends of rock-and-roll.  Be sure to complete his worksheet exercise, which is designed to help you identify what matters most to you in your life.
    • How:  Access will be provided to registrants in the coming days leading up to the start of the National Meeting.
  • District 8 Caucus Meeting
    • When: Friday, October 30, 9:00-10:00 AM PST.
    • What:  All members of AALAS District 8 are invited to gather and connect.  I will go over what’s new with AALAS and summarize the minutes of the fall BOT meeting.  I will also invite leaders from each branch within D8 to talk about what has been going on in their branch over the past year. 
    • How:  Zoom 
  • AALAS Foundation Biplane Battle
    • What: North Carolina (where the National Meeting was scheduled to be held) is known for the Wright Brothers, whose “Flying Machine” was the first powered airplane to execute controlled and sustained flight.  This year the AALAS Foundation has designed a “Biplane Battle” contest, challenging contestants to paint/decorate a wooden 8” x 7.5” airplane.
    • When: Online voting begins October 25 and ends November 15.  Each “vote is a financial donation for the AALAS Foundation, which raises money for educational outreach on the essential role of responsible laboratory animal care and use in science to advance human and animal health.
    • How:  All registered and accepted photo entries received will be on display on the AALAS Foundation Facebook page and on the AALAS Foundation’s “Biplane Battle” page in the AALAS National Meeting virtual platform.  Entries include many from District 8!

Even though the National Meeting will be virtual and on-demand, there will still be many of the same types of presentations as an in-person meeting.  Here are some tips to help you make the most of your virtual experience:

  • Dedicate several hours at a time to spend in the virtual meeting. Sure, it’s on-demand, so you could space the meeting out by logging on for an hour a day.  But you will get more out of the meeting, and it will feel more like an in-person meeting, if you can block out several half-days or even full days to focus on the content.
  • Don’t forget the virtual Exhibitor Hall.  While exhibitors won’t be around to hand out swag to put in your goody bag, they will be available to update you on their latest products, answer any questions, and help you stay connected.  Commercial members are a major supporter of laboratory animal communities, locally, nationally, and internationally.  Please show your appreciation by paying them a visit.
  • Visit the virtual Poster Session.  Here you can peruse the hundreds of posters at your leisure. 

I hope you all make the most of the virtual National Meeting.  Please feel free to provide me with any feedback.  I look forward to seeing you at the District 8 Caucus Meeting.  And I’m hopeful that I will be able to see you in person before too long.

Tom Chatkupt, DVM 
Trustee, AALAS District 8


2020 Summer Trustee Report

I hope this letter finds you healthy and adjusting to the new ways of living.  There certainly have been a lot of adjustments to make over the past few months.  For me, the biggest adjustment has been resisting the urge to stream Hamilton on a daily basis ever since it became available on Disney+.  Of course, I’m kidding.  At the top of the list for me is the personal growth that I have undertaken in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.  His tragic death, and the protests that have followed, have forced me to reckon with my own racism and has compelled me to commit myself to being anti-racist.  Since then, I have watched videos, listened to podcasts, talked to friends and family, and started anti-racism training in an effort to better understand the ways our society has yet to heal from our legacy of slavery and structural discrimination.  There are so many resources out there, I encourage you to explore them.  This process is not comfortable.  But it is necessary.

I am grateful to not alone in my journey.  AALAS leadership, in fact, is taking another look at social justice within our organization.  AALAS has long maintained a strategic goal of attracting, engaging, and developing a diverse and inclusive membership; indeed, the diversity and inclusion I have witnessed within AALAS is unparalleled, at least in my experience.  Nevertheless, the AALAS Executive Committee has established an ad hoc committee on Diversity and Inclusion with the aim of better understanding how AALAS might better serve its members with regard to race, diversity, and inclusion.  If you have any input or questions for the committee, please feel free to contact me or reply to AALAS President Tracy Parker’s post in the AALAS Community Exchange (ACE).

AALAS has been busy in other arenas as well.  Last month, the Board of Trustees convened its Summer Session.  We squeezed a lot of business into a two-hour teleconference, including:

  • Approving the Award Selection Committee’s recommendations for the 2020 AALAS National Award and Charles River Prize recipients.
  • Approving revisions to the ILAM Chair appointments for 2021, 2022, and 2023, in order to allow this committee to fully deliver its mission in light of disruption related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Approving the following vision statement for AALAS: Educate the world on the transformative value of the animal and human partnership in biomedical research.

The headliner for the BOT Summer Session, though, was an update on the National Meeting, scheduled for October 25-29.  Yes, AALAS will be holding the National Meeting on-site in Charlotte, NC, if allowed to do so.  We will not be able to make a final decision about on-site attendance until closer to October.  And yes, AALAS is also planning a virtual meeting component, the details of which are forthcoming.  Registration is open for the National Meeting, and includes both on-site and virtual options.   Housing in Charlotte is also open.  A special spotlight forum for 2020 is devoted to overcoming challenges in LAS. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate topic for this year’s spotlight forum!

We live in uncertain times.  We don’t know when the pandemic will end, whether or not shaking hands is a thing of the past, or when we can see Hamilton live in the theatre again.  But one thing is certain – AALAS will still be there for you.  There will be a National Meeting, even if it is virtual-only.  And AALAS will continue to support you as a laboratory animal professional:

Tom Chatkupt, DVM 
Trustee, AALAS District 8


2020 Spring Trustee Report

Just a few short weeks ago, I was anticipating my trip to Sacramento for the District 8 Meeting.  That dream has since been dashed, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the days since the outbreak hit our shores, people have died, businesses closed, laboratory animals had to be euthanized.  My thoughts are with all of you.  Whether you are reporting to work every day to ensure the health and welfare of research animals, at home providing support to essential personnel, or wondering if someone you know is going to recover from the virus, you have had to face uncertainty, loss, and grief. 

The pandemic has certainly taken its toll on normal operations within our community.  As you probably know, the District 8 Meeting was canceled.  If you registered for the meeting, you should receive an email from the meeting organizers regarding your options for reimbursement.  If you have any questions regarding reimbursement, please contact Emily Slocum, ewerner@ucmerced.edu

The pandemic also forced the AALAS National Office to close temporarily under local “Safer at Home” orders.  Rest assured, however, that the AALAS staff is continuing to assist members from the safety of their home locations.  Before coronavirus became widespread, however, the BOT met in late February to conduct our Winter Session.  Below are some highlights from the Session:

  • Tracy Parker and Ann Turner shared their recent travels (remember travel?) in their roles as AALAS President and Executive Director, respectively.
  • The BOT approved site selection for the National Meetings in 2025 and 2026.
  • We welcomed new Affiliate and Global Partner organizations.
  • WE approved 2021 Committee Chairs and the National Meeting Program Committee Vice Chair.

I was hoping to share these updates with you in person over the course of spring and summer, but my visits to your branch will have to wait.  In the meantime, let AALAS continue to support you:

  • Stay connected with the lab animal community through the AALAS Community Exchange.  Access is included in your AALAS membership.
  • Explore the AALAS Learning Library.  If you are not subscribed to the ALL, check out the free courses.
  • Study for the next Technician Certification level.
  • Read back issues of Comparative Medicine, JAALAS, and LAS Pro – if you don't have the paper copies, they are online.

But most of all, take care of yourself.  Take a walk.  Talk to friends and family.  Love the animals that you have invited into your life, both at work and at home. 

Tom Chatkupt, DVM 
Trustee, AALAS District 8


2020 Winter Trustee Report

Greetings, my fellow Laboratory Animal Professionals!

Now that the holidays are behind us, and a new year is off and running, I thought I would take a moment to share some of the milestones AALAS celebrated last year, as well as show you what to look forward to from AALAS in this coming year.

Highlights from 2019 – AALAS celebrated a number of achievements last year.  Membership continues to grow, and last year the total number of members exceeded 14,500.  We are proud of the 1,200 individuals who earned their ALAT, LAT, and LATg Certifications last year.  And to date, 76 GLAS grants have been awarded totaling $1.5 million.  For more information visit AALAS at https://www.aalas.org/.

What’s New and Notable for 2020 – Last year AALAS rolled out some new member benefits, which we can continue to look forward to in 2020:

  • The Certified Manager of Animal Resources (CMAR) program is designed to raise competency and professionalism in the field of laboratory animal resources management. CMAR exams are now available online, making this certification more accessible to our members. 
  •  Laboratory Animal Science Professional is the official magazine for AALAS members.  You’ll find information about people, places and events as well as feature articles and useful regular columns like Tech Tips and Career & Training.  LAS Pro issues are now increasing in frequency from quarterly to bimonthly.
  • The AALAS Community Exchange (ACE) is AALAS’ new online networking platform.  ACE is comprised of discussion groups, or Communities where AALAS members can connect.  ACE is CompMed’s new home.  There is a community for meetings and events, as well as an open discussion forum.  Each Community has its own resource library.  And ACE is where you’ll find the AALAS Membership Directory. 
  • The AALAS Learning Library (ALL) continues to offer a growing selection of training opportunities.  Courses include AALAS Certification preparation, working with specific species, and review of regulations.  Certificate programs are available, the newest of which is the Laboratory Animal Research Support Certificate program, designed for individuals with little or no regular hands-on animal experience. 
  • The 71st AALAS National Meeting will take place October 25-29 in Charlotte, North Carolina this year.  A special spotlight forum for 2020 is devoted to overcoming challenges in laboratory animal science. Whether you are a researcher that has had to change a study design, a manager who has had to figure out how to schedule proper animal care in the midst of a snowpocalypse, or a husbandry technician that developed a better and safer way to transfer animals from one cage to another, this topic applies.

Finally, registration is now open for the AALAS District 8 Meeting.  This year’s D8 Meeting will be at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel in Sacramento, California, April 8-9.  We are AALAS’ largest District geographically, so the D8 Meeting is a great way for us all to gather in one place to network, share knowledge and experience, and sit in on some great talks and workshops.  More information is available here.    Hope to see you there!

Tom Chatkupt, DVM 
Trustee, AALAS District 8


2017 Summer Trustee Report

The AALAS Board of Trustees (BOT) held our summer meeting in Memphis in late July.  The full minutes from the meeting have been posted on the AALAS website under Leadership/BOT Minute Archive. 

We started off by selecting the location of the 2023 National Meeting which lands in our District and we hope to see you all in Salt Lake!

There is also an update on the 2019 Denver meeting we have had to change the dates of the meeting so it will now be held October 13-17 rather than November.

We also welcomed the Association for Gnotobiotics and Laboratory Animals Limited as affiliate organizations to AALAS.

We approved disbursements of excess funds to GLAS, CMAR, AALAS foundation, and to help cover some of the additional costs for housing and shuttles in Austin. 

I hope you are all packed up for Austin and ready to see your AALAS family.  We will have the District 8 membership meeting on Monday, October 16th from 5:15-6:15 pm.  Please come join us!

Amber Carte
District 8 Trustee


2016 Summer Trustee Report

The AALAS Board of Trustees (BOT) had a wonderful summer meeting in Memphis where a lot of work was accomplished.  The full minutes from the meeting have been posted on the AALAS website under Leadership/BOT Minute Archive. 

We started off by selecting the location of the 2022 National Meeting and I expect to see you all in Louisville, Kentucky in the future!

The Federacion de Sociedades y Asociaciones Hispanas de America Del Norte, CentroAmerica y el Caribe de la Ciencia de Los Animales de Laboratorio, A.C.(FESAHANCCCAL) was elected as a new affiliate organization of AALAS. www.fesahancccal.com

2016 National Award Winners were approved but you will just have to wait until Charlotte to see who they are!

After a long process starting with surveys and immense work from the ADHOC membership structure committee we finalized the membership restructuring.  It was determined that it was in the best interest of our community to keep our current 3 tiered individual member structure. The costs for individual memberships have had a nominal increase in order to support the growth in programs that AALAS has seen over the last several years.  Institutional and Commercial memberships will receive discounts based on the number of additional individual memberships they purchase.   Commercial memberships will also now have the option of a Base or a Premier membership.  These changes will go into effect January 1st 2017. 

The BOT also approved the proposed changes to the AALAS Policy & Procedures Manual (PPM).  The proposed changes were made based on review by AALAS Legal Counsel, staff and committees.  I can’t possibly go over each change in the hundreds of pages of the PPM in this letter and many where for consistent grammar and terminology.  I am happy to say that we used this opportunity to add in a non-discrimination policy. 

There is one change that may cause some confusion with branches so I do want address it.  The position of Technician Branch Representative (TBR) has been removed from the PPM.  The original intent of the TBR position was to serve as a communicator between the branch and national AALAS but essentially this role has been superseded by technology via websites, email, and social media.  It was also found that many branches were inconsistent with appointing TBR’s and with them being members of AALAS.  So TBR’s are no longer a requirement for branches of AALAS.  That however doesn’t mean your branch can’t have one!  If you have a TBR position that is valuable to your Branch, certainly keep it going.   The Committee on Technician and Awareness and Development (CTAD) which runs the TBR listserv and the TBR of the Year Award is already brainstorming changes to these items to fit with this revision of the PPM.

The 2016 elections wrapped up on June 30th and I look forward to working with our new leadership: Morag Mackay – Vice President Elect, Amber Carte- District 8 Trustee, Roy Hoglund- District 8 Alternate Trustee

I hope you are getting ready for Charlotte and your race car decorating is well underway! We will have the District 8 membership meeting on Monday, October 31st from 5:15-6:15 pm.  Please plan to attend as I look forward to seeing you there. 

Amber Carte
District 8 Trustee