Campus News

Veterinary medicine staff member lives life of science, music

Deb Carter

Music has been a part of Deb Carter’s life since she can remember. Growing up in New York, her parents would take her brother and sister around to churches, homes and festivals to sing while her mother played the guitar. Even in the car, her mother would belt out Bob Dylan tunes, much to Carter’s embarrassment.

Music still permeates Carter’s life outside of her work at UGA as a research professional in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s pathology department. Carter sings in the Athens-based band Scarlet Stitch. In June, she won Best Rock Female Vocals at the Georgia Music Awards.

“(Winning) was the most exciting experience ever,” Carter said. “We weren’t thinking at all it would happen. The other artists were a lot younger or more popular, so when they called out my name, our row erupted in cheers. It was shocking.”

Carter started in Scarlet Stitch after she went looking for firewood on Craigslist five years ago. There, she stumbled onto an ad placed for a vocalist, and the rest is history. Carter said while the group’s roots are in rock ‘n’ roll, it also has some blues, country and acoustic aspects as well.

The band writes its own songs and does all of its own promotion. Members also have organized a few shows and played in some festivals, despite not having a manager.

“When you’re doing it on your own, it’s a bit difficult,” Carter said. “But doing it on our own is best for us since we all have 9-to-5 jobs.”

While at work, Carter assists Elizabeth Howerth, a professor in the pathology department, with research. The two do a lot with immunohistochemistry, which involves detecting proteins in animal cells. Carter said she does whatever Howerth needs for the day, which often varies widely.

“It can range from keeping cells alive to putting viruses into eggs or doing necropsies with (Howerth),” Carter said. “There’s not a general set thing that I come in and do. I never know what the day’s going to be like.”

The Ithaca, New York, native also works with anywhere from one to four students to provide assistance with their projects.

“The job title is research professional, but I often feel that I’m more like research support,” Carter said. “I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades in the lab.”

Carter also travels with researchers to places such as Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota to collect samples for avian influenza research.

Carter started her lab career at Cornell University, where she was trying to get a job as a teacher. Instead, she landed a position conducting stem cell research, something she found enjoyable.

“Though I’m not a teacher, with all the students I’m working with in labs, it’s still like teaching,” Carter said. “It’s just in a much more personal setting outside of a classroom.”

Between the stage and lab, Carter also spends time hiking, camping and mountain biking. Carter raced mountain bikes professionally for Cannondale when she lived in New York, but now she only rides recreationally.

When time allows, Carter performs in musicals with the Town & Gown Players in Athens. She has been in past shows such as Godspell, Jesus Christ Super Star and Little Shop of Horrors.

Carter said her co-workers are so supportive of all her ventures.

“The people I work with are the best part of all of this,” she said. “Their support of everything has been so kind and wonderful.”