This is the final installment in a series of articles highlighting new faculty members from each college at Washington State University.
Highly specialized scientific research can be a lonely pursuit, but Jason Park doesn’t have to go far to find an understanding ear.
He’s a first-year research assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, investigating Anaplasma—a pathogen spread by ticks that infects humans and large mammals. Park’s wife Dana Shaw, an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, is studying those same ticks and their immune response to the pathogens they carry, including Anaplasma and Borrelia (Lyme disease bacteria).
“Dana and I will tell a brick wall about our research if it stands still for 15 minutes, and we are definitely each other’s constant advisors and critics,” Park said. “Our shared interests in microbiology was definitely something we connected over and continues to be a part of our shared life.”
Originally from Great Falls, Montana, Park was eager to return to the region after completing his Ph.D. at Texas A&M, where he met Shaw. He completed a postdoc at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and it was Shaw who landed a position at WSU and brought the couple to Pullman.
“I initially came here with my wife for her position, but I advocated for it,” Park said. “We enjoy being near the mountains in a natural setting, and hiking, rafting, and skiing. I was definitely aware of WSU’s reputation because of my time in Montana.”
Park learned he’d been hired as a WSU faculty member while he was at home last spring. Since then, he’s adjusted to the new restrictions in the lab and is safely resuming research.
“I like the creative aspects of research and advising younger students on the process of research,” Park said.
Those frequent conversations between Park and Shaw over dinner may eventually lead to research collaboration and perhaps a breakthrough in disease prevention or treatment.
“We are not currently working on any shared research projects, Park said, “but there is great potential for our research to meet in the middle as we understand more and the viewpoints from bacteria and tick perspective increasingly overlap.”