Graduate Student Alumni Spotlight
Student Name: Anna M. Biesbrock
Program: Master's in Biology
Employer: University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine
Position: Veterinary student / Large animal surgery technician / Pharmacy night staff
What attracted you to this field?
I have always had a love of science and animals. I loved working with the livestock animals at my undergraduate university in my major courses and have always been interested in medicine. I also enjoyed doing lab work for my undergraduate courses and as I approached graduation, I knew that working in a research lab was something that I wanted to explore. After being immersed in that environment, I realized I enjoyed research and learning different techniques, but I still felt like I was missing something. That’s when I realized I wanted to combine my passion for animal health and safety with research methodologies.
Why did you choose UT Tyler?
After I completed my undergraduate work, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a PhD or apply for veterinary school, so I knew I needed a program that would provide me with skills no matter which direction I chose. Also, I did not have any laboratory experience outside of labs for courses and the prospect of attending a large university wasn’t something I desired because I knew it would not be the right environment for me. I found a posted opening in Dr. Blake Bextine’s lab and read up on some of the projects his lab was involved in at the time, as well as looked into the school and what it offered. We did a phone interview; it sounded like it would be a good fit and he said he’d take me on as a student. The rest is history.
What do you like most about UT Tyler?
I liked that it was a smaller university, with a more intimate biology department that would allow me ample access to faculty. Not having a background in molecular biology, it was nice being in a smaller cohort of students because it allowed more contact time all around. I also enjoyed being able to get out of the lab once in awhile and going out to sample with other graduate students that had more ecology based projects!
What are your career aspirations?
I’m currently in veterinary school at UC Davis and intend to focus on food animal medicine. I have an interest in public health and food safety, so ideally I would like my career to move towards regulatory work in those areas. I also plan on getting my Masters in Public Health or Masters in Preventative Veterinary Medicine, but that will come several years after finishing veterinary school.
What is your work experience?
During my undergraduate career, I worked as a secretary for a county office of education. I left that position when I moved for graduate school and was a teaching assistant and a research assistant while completing my masters work. Towards the end of my graduate program at UT Tyler, I was hired as a veterinary technician at a general practice for about 6 months and then I switched jobs to be a veterinary/surgery technician for a low cost spay/neuter non-profit organization for about a year and a half. Getting hired as a vet tech is what solidified my desire to go to veterinary school. Once I moved back to California and started my program, I was able to find employment at the veterinary teaching hospital on campus as a surgery technician in our livestock barn and as night staff in the hospital’s pharmacy. I was also lucky enough to find summer employment working in a virology lab on campus as well, so I can keep my molecular techniques up to date!
Do you have any advice to pass along to other students interested in this program?
Every project is different and it’s important to remember that when you’re in the middle of your research and nothing seems to be going right for you. Two years will fly by, so it’s important to set yourself up for success from the very beginning. Be sure to pick a committee that will complement your research/work style and that will have a combined skill set to guide you appropriately.
Find out more about our MS in Biology