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April 12, 2019 – Mara DePena recently joined Morris Animal Foundation as the Veterinary Research Assistant for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

Mara grew up in Virginia Beach and left the Tidewater for the Appalachian Mountains, where she pursued her bachelor’s degree in animal and poultry sciences at Virginia Tech. As part of Virginia Tech’s Honors College, she volunteered as a research assistant in the Neuroendocrinology Laboratory. Mara was solely responsible for data input regarding feeding and exploratory activity in a study of quails.

While at Virginia Tech, Mara also worked as a laboratory assistant, a teaching assistant, Writing Center coach, and as a program coordinator for Bike the US for MS, a nonprofit working to raise money for multiple sclerosis research and treatment. As program coordinator, she was responsible for organizing and implementing events to facilitate Virginia Tech campus engagement and recruitment, such as presentations, fundraising and tabling events. 

After working in animal hospitals on and off for two years, Mara decided it was time for a change. Her experience in and love of nonprofit work helped solidify her desire to find a rewarding nonprofit position related to her degree. She left Virginia and hospital work and was invited to apply for a position with Morris Animal Foundation.

Outside of work, Mara enjoys hiking, kayaking, reading, photography and spending time with her rescue dog, Kona, and her partner. Mara enjoys writing and is a published author and co-author, with various articles published in scilful Vet Solutions newsletter and a manuscript published in the Journal of General and Comparative Endocrinology.