Six of the students in the inaugural Animal and Biomedical Industries master's degree program (from left): Alex Travis, Santana Nez, Alyssa Pires, Sarah Lindquist, Elizabeth Carranza and Christina Agosto. (Photo: Susan McGinley)
Six of the students in the inaugural Animal and Biomedical Industries master's degree program (from left): Alex Travis, Santana Nez, Alyssa Pires, Sarah Lindquist, Elizabeth Carranza and Christina Agosto. (Photo: Susan McGinley)

Animal and Biomedical Industries Degrees Merge Science, Business

The new program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provides a strong foundation in science while building skills in commerce, marketing and management.
Nov. 6, 2017
Extra Info: 

Animal and Biomedical Industries Program

  • All coursework includes practical applications of scientific and business principles in real-world contexts. Core courses include Physical Sciences for One Health; Principles of Disease; Computation in Biomedicine; Bio-economy, Marketing and Business; Ethology, Evolution, Ethics and Animal Handling; Interactions of Animals, Humans and Ecosystems; and Risk Assessment, Management and Regulation.
  • Undergraduate major: https://biomedicalsciencemajor.arizona.edu
  • Graduate program: https://acbs.cals.arizona.edu/degrees/grad_animalindustries
  • Career areas include managing businesses in the animal and biomedical industries, entering graduate or veterinary school, conducting research in health and exploring innovative technologies. Specific fields include business, the livestock industry, equine industry, research, public relations, regulation and the companion animal industry. See this list for more than 60 job titles: https://biomedicalsciencemajor.arizona.edu/careers.
  • The CALS Career Center offers guidance for exploring careers, assessing talents and finding internship and job opportunities: https://guidebook.com/app/cals_careers/

Career options for students in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences are expanding with the introduction of a new animal and biomedical industries bachelor's and master's program. The mix of specifically designed science and business courses will prepare graduates for job entry immediately after the B.S. or M.S. degree, or serve as a foundation for further academic study and research.

The curriculum is based on three core concepts — animal-human interdependence, One Health (that the health of humans, animals and the environment are all related) and commerce — combined with applied business and management principles. 

"The 10 core courses in the ABI major were created from scratch, designed specifically for this program," said André-Denis Wright, ACBS professor and director. "It fills the gap between animal sciences and the industries that need people with a business and leadership background."

The goal is for ABI graduates to think like scientists while leading and managing successful businesses in a variety of fields.

Coursework includes a solid scientific base of physical sciences for One Health, disease principles, biomedical computation, and animal evolution, behavior and animal handling, along with a focus on managing the bioeconomy, marketing and business, animal and human interaction with the environment, and risk management and assessment.

"It's a well-rounded program that will qualify people to get a variety of jobs throughout the animal industry. A lot of the feed and pharmacology industries are struggling to find people with a little more experience in business," said Dan Faulkner, ACBS professor and beef extension specialist, who is teaching the nutrition and range management portions of a course on interactions of animals, humans and ecosystems.

"I think the program did an amazing job finding the different professors to instruct these courses," said Michael Dunn, ABI graduate student. "There is a huge amount of knowledge from several different fields that they are all wanting to share with us. They are really taking an all-encompassing approach."

For example, microbiologist Michael Anderson, of the UA Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, devotes his course on principles of disease to bringing real-life scenarios into the classroom. Students will study the nomenclature of creating a diagnosis, rather than material that primarily emphasizes memorization.

In their class on animal behavior (ethology) and related issues, professor of practice Dieter Steklis and lecturer Netzin Steklis focus on the evolutionary, physiological and developmental causes of behavior — how adaptive an animal is. They emphasize that knowing the ethology means understanding what's good for the animal and what improves not only its productivity but also its welfare. It's also about the treatment and well-being of animals.

Doug Reed, lecturer and former director of the Race Track Industry Program, and Scot Waterman, veterinarian and lecturer, are teaching a course on marketing and business. Their materials will cover accounting, how to read a balance sheet, and the types of corporate structure that work for bioeconomy-related professions. 

"It can be applied to all sorts of businesses in the farm world," Waterman said. "If there is one thing I could change about my veterinary experience, it would have been to have more business training."

ABI master's students enrolled in the fall semester already have noted possibilities for careers and even some career changes. Santana Nez, who plans to go into food animal production, health or research, said the advantage of the ABI M.S. program is that it encompasses many different curricula and can be completed quickly: "It's a one-year program. You get in and get out."

Elizabeth Carranza intends to apply to veterinary school but enrolled in ABI to explore her options. She is now interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in animal behavior.

Alyssa Pires completed a chemistry degree with a minor in math, but decided that wasn't what she wanted to do. She has applied to veterinary school, but said if that doesn't happen, "This program is a good step in changing my life."