UA School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences prepares for fall semester
The UA’s new School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences will open to students this fall.
As part of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the new school will give students the opportunity to expand their knowledge in the fields of animal production, food safety, integrated biomedicine and bioinformatics. The school will combine the current department of animal sciences and department of veterinary science and microbiology into one program designed to give students access to upper division electives and a variety of research facilities and programs.
“They’ll be integrated in such a way that students can track through the school and its various programs and they may have a quicker route through the professional vet med program,” said Charles Sterling, head of the Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology and interim head of the Department of Animal Sciences.
The new program also focuses on animal health, growth, nutrition and disease and human health challenges. Much of the school will be centered on combining aspects of the curriculum that will serve the undergraduate majors in the school, Sterling said. The undergraduate majors won’t change, but the curriculum will be restructured to “make it more meaningful,” Sterling added.
The school will allow students to take a diverse array of classes pertaining to their specific interests and give them opportunities to get real-world experience in their industry.
“We’ve combined them in an interesting way to really open up some new possibilities,” said Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. “There are at least two principle kinds of those: One is it allows us a lot more flexibility and creativity in what we can do and then also, really importantly, it gives us a vehicle for our proposed veterinary medical education program.”
The new school is expected to house the proposed Arizona Veterinary Medical Education program, which the UA recently petitioned for funding for from the Arizona Legislature. The veterinary program will be structured as a fast-paced program that gives students the chance to graduate less than a year after finishing their undergraduate studies. The veterinary program will also incorporate local Tucson veterinary clinics as teaching facilities for students, rather than building an entirely new veterinary hospital through the university.
“Everything that we’ve heard from all of the upper administrative people, they are all solidly behind it,” Sterling said. “The only thing we have to do now is get the Legislature behind us as well.”
For now, the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences will focus on creating strong partnerships with industry to help students be better prepared to compete for jobs in fields such as beef production, biotechnology, food microbiology and recreational equine husbandry. Some students said they are excited for the new school and hope it will allow them to broaden their knowledge in a wide variety of studies.
“Having a more diverse science system is what drew me to the school and being a part of the agricultural and science side has made the classes more interesting,” said Meghan Marsters, an animal sciences sophomore. “I get to take more in-depth courses like horses and racing and all these other different classes. It makes it more diverse; it will draw more people.”