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Marisa Conte

Alumna Marisa Conte is Associate Director of the Research and Informatics Unit at the University of Michigan's Taubman Health Sciences Library.

Conte holds a Bachelor of Arts in Medieval Studies from U-M and a Masters of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University, and is currently a Ph.D. student in Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems in the U-M Medical School's Department of Learning Health Sciences. Her research interests involve the creation, organization, management and dissemination of trusted, interoperable and sharable computable knowledge.

Q: What made you decide to choose this career?

A: When I enrolled at SIS, I knew I wanted to work with information, but I really didn't know in what capacity, because I knew I didn't know all of the potential uses for the degree. So with that in mind, I'm not sure it's accurate to say I really "chose" the career path I'm on now. I started off in SIS wanting to try different things and take on new challenges and learn as much as I could about different opportunities. That tactic sparked my interest in the health sciences, that interest led to a post-graduate fellowship, and the fellowship led to the job I currently have. There's been a huge amount of serendipity involved, and I'm just glad I left my mind (and my options!) open along the way.

Q: What is your job title and what are your chief duties?

A: As Associate Director of the Research and Informatics Unit at the Taubman Health Sciences Library, I coordinate engagement in a variety of research contexts and facilitate our collaborations in research and informatics initiatives. My liaison areas include clinical and translational sciences, pathology, and laboratory animal medicine. My research interests involve the representation, validation and dissemination of trusted and interoperable computable knowledge in biomedical research, clinical care, and population health, and the sociotechnical factors that lead to adoption of new systems and standards for the management and sharing of knowledge.

Q: What do you like most about your career?

A: That if you'd asked me 5 years ago what I'd be doing with my degree, I wouldn't have even been able to imagine doing the kinds of things I'm doing right now. And from day to day, I can be engaged in completely different things. One day all my work could involve intellectual property issues, copyright, open access publishing, etc. The next day it could be a complicated literature search on a topic I've never even heard of, and the day after that I could be preparing to teach a class on a piece of software that I just learned about myself, building a database, or creating a digital lab manual. I love working with people, and in my job, I get to work with a lot of different people - in one day I could be working with administrators, senior researchers, laboratory managers and students - and tailoring information and delivery to diverse audiences is a challenge I really enjoy. Last but not least, I like being different! I have a very non-conventional role, I've had a lot of flexibility to integrate the library and its services into new environments, and I like not being what people expect a librarian to be.