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We asked Dr. Debra Barbarits, “What is something you look forward to studying in the future.” We have her answer for you below.

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Photo courtesy of Kyle Lanzer, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

What inspired you to work in science?

I've always had an interest in science, even as a kid. I've always known I wanted to be a veterinarian and science is the basis of medicine, so I have always been drawn to it.

What do you do at the Zoo?

My team and I are responsible for the health of the entire collection of animals at the Zoo. I specifically have an interest in preventative medicine and emergency medicine.

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Dr. Barbarits inspecting the pad of an elephant's foot during a routine exam.

How do you use science daily?

I use anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology, even physics, everyday to care for the animals. For example, I use chemistry and physiology to understand how a medicine will help a kangaroo with an infection. I use anatomy and physics when I take an x-ray of a hawk to evaluate a broken wing. Science is a part of everything I do!

What excites you about your work?

Every day is different. One day I could be extracting a tooth on a tiger and the next day taking a CT on a fish. I love the challenge of not knowing what my day will bring. I also love making a difference in the lives of the animals we care for here at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and around the world through our conservation initiatives.

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Dr. Barbarits speaking at the 2016 David Steffee Address.

What advice do you have for young women wanting to work in science?

A career in science is very rewarding, and there are so many exciting jobs that use science. If you have a spark of interest in science in school, run with it and see where it takes you!

What is something you want to work on in the future?

I would love to do some veterinary field work around the globe, using what I have learned from taking care of our zoo animals to help their wild counterparts.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Zoo?

My favorite thing about working at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is being able to work with some of the world's rarest and most unique animals everyday and helping to inspire our community to help secure a future for wildlife.

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Dr. Barbarits performing a vet exam on a stork.

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