Dr. Hellen Akoth is a veterinarian, passionate about research with determination to forge new paths in science. She is currently the only veterinarian in Kenya actively involved in marine ornamental aquatic veterinary science and is also pursuing an online course in marine ornamental species, elasmobranchs and invertebrates. She works at Kenya Tropical Sealife Limited, an exporter of live marine ornamental species, elasmobranchs and invertebrates where she is involved with fish receipt, quarantine, examination and evaluation, feeding, disease research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment, record keeping and ensuring the aquariums are maintained at levels best suited to ensure fish survival while minimizing stress.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The accomplishment I am most proud of is graduating with a veterinary medicine degree. In my current position I am proud of the disease prevention regimes which I instituted and are effective. The sharks that make a full recovery after treatment also make me so proud.
Who has inspired you in your career?
I am inspired by many people but one of my university lecturers, Prof. Agumba Gilbert J. O. (retired), stands out. My most memorable quote from him is ‘Vets Must Fly’. This taught me diligence, commitment and effort because once you put your mind to something, it is possible, you will fly.
What is your dream research project? Where would you work and with whom?
My dream research project is to be part of a multidisciplinary team that comes up with a One Health project where we go on a research voyage collecting data and coming up with solutions on the effects and challenges of human-marine animals-environment interaction. I would love to work with Dr. Paula Kahumbu who is very passionate about the wild and conservation.
Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
In 15 years, a lot will have changed but career wise, I see myself as the Principal Scientist/Researcher at the United Nations Environmental Program under a strategy similar to the marine and coastal strategy.
What secret talent do you have?
I dance! Well not so secret anymore.
What do you miss most about the pre-COVID world?
The thing I miss the most is the freedom of movement. A time where there were no restrictions and I could visit my family.
What is your quote to live by?
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire,” Jennifer Lee.