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Young alumni from College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences dive into their careers

by Rachel Griess

Students and their families often wonder about career options associated with different undergraduate degrees. To illustrate some possibilities, here's an introduction to young alumni with bachelor's degrees from the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science. These are but a few ways our grads are fulfilling the college goal of helping animals, people and the planet.

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Trevor Van Bavel, environmental health, 2013

Before studying at CSU, Van Bavel earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Alberta, where he took his first course in environmental safety. That sparked an interest in environmental health at CSU. Shortly after graduation, Van Bavel was hired as a process engineer at Hinton Pulp in Alberta, Canada; he applies learning gained through his two degree programs to a chemical recovery and conservation project.

“A lot of industry players are looking to be more environmentally conscious, and my knowledge can help them,” Van Bavel said. “It’s very rewarding to help a company succeed while doing something positive for the environment.”

Eric Achatz, biomedical sciences, 2013

Achatz aspires to medical school and decided to complete a year of service work with AmeriCorps before entering graduate school. He travels the country to help with relief efforts in places hit by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy and flooding in Colorado. Achatz enjoys the chance to serve diverse populations and hopes that service will continue in a medical career.

“The Department of Biomedical Sciences has well prepared me for this AmeriCorps experience and to be a medical student,” Achatz said. “Having a degree from the exceptional professors at CSU has given me the ability to solve problems in the field that others can’t. The BMS faculty prepared me to succeed in whatever the future holds.”

Rachelle Reneau, microbiology, 2013

Reneau is fascinated by disease and the epic battles the human body fights against it. After graduating, she landed a yearlong fellowship to study emerging infectious diseases and is conducting research for the Minnesota Department of Health. Reneau plans to return to CSU to seek a Ph.D. in microbiology, hoping her laboratory training leads her to a career in public health or academia.

“CSU has provided me with an excellent education, equipping me not only with knowledge but also teaching me how to think critically,” Reneau said. “I would encourage students to get in the lab and get experience. The education you receive is extremely important, but the hands-on experience you receive outside of the classroom determines your success after graduation.”

Alexandra Kumor, microbiology, 2013

As U.S. consumers go gaga over new yogurt styles, Kumor has landed a job at fast-growing Noosa Finest Yoghurt in Bellvue, Colo. The company, which just announced a $5 million expansion, makes Aussie-style yogurt with milk from its local neighbor, Morning Fresh Dairy. Kumor said her microbiology major and food-safety minor prepared her for a job as a quality-assurance technician at the booming company, where she is combining her passion for food and her love of science.

"It's exciting to work for an up-and-coming company," said Kumor, who credits her undergraduate advisor for helping her identify a rewarding career path. "Because Noosa is so young, we're given a lot of responsibilities and are hands-on in every step of product development. I play an active role in the processes that older, bigger companies have made automated. Working here is a great learning opportunity and I strongly believe the CSU faculty prepared me for my future."

Brittany Kuehl, biomedical sciences, 2011

After graduating, Kuehl found her niche working with a field-support team for high-tech medical devices. She supports medical-device users nationwide in phone consultations and during medical procedures. She has observed and supported surgeries, including cranial tumor resections, biopsies, spinal fusions and deep brain stimulation. Kuehl said her biomedical sciences education gave her the ability to “talk-the-talk” with clinical professionals; medical school might even be a next step.

“In many ways, I have a leg up in the medical-device industry due to understanding of clinical application. The electives I took have given me the base knowledge necessary to provide much-needed support in the growing field,” Kuehl said. “I believe that having these experiences makes me an infinitely better-prepared candidate for professional school. I’m no longer working off a romanticized vision of what being a doctor or surgeon looks like.”

Ian Wallace, microbiology, 2011

Wallace was hooked on microbiology upon realizing he could have a hands-on a career working with organisms that make up every aspect of life. He is a certified medical laboratory scientist at Denver Health Medical Center. In the job, he learns the effects of new medications, works with new diagnostic tools and investigates emerging diseases. He hopes to use a second degree in criminology and to become a forensic pathologist.

“I graduated with the confidence and knowledge to participate in diagnostic medicine,” Wallace said. “My advice to students is to invest in your education and take risks that will reap rewards in the future. If there is a class that piques your interest, take the class! It could change your perspective.”

Emily Asadi, environmental health, 2011

Asadi works as an environmental health consultant for Hellman & Associates, a Denver-based company that provides a variety of consultation services tied to workplace safety. She would like to one day work internationally, helping to implement health and safety practices, providing clean drinking water to developing communities or even becoming an epidemiologist.

“After learning so much about environmental health sciences, I was excited to get out and actually practice it. I want to be good at what I do – to be considered an expert,” Asadi said. “EHS is a unique and exciting field, and there are many opportunities and many different ways you can take it.”

Alex Emch, microbiology, 2013

Emch is pursuing a graduate degree in food science and technology at Oregon State University and hopes to move on to a career preventing and detecting outbreaks of food-borne illness. He envisions working for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, designing programs and methods to mitigate food-borne illness and to increase awareness among consumers and producers.

“My undergraduate education gave me the passion and understanding that I needed to plan and find the paths for a future career in microbiology,” Emch said. “The rigorous courses and enthusiastic professors were excellent promoters in giving me the drive and background that I needed to succeed in this field.”

Paul Moresco, microbiology, 2011

Like many undergrads in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Moresco was initially interested in a veterinary career. But after spending time in a laboratory setting, he developed a passion for research. Now Moresco works as an assistant scientist studying plant biotechnology for J.R. Simplot Co. in Boise, Idaho. His company is supporting his exploration of the field of food science.

“Biology, specifically microbiology, simply fascinates me, keeps my attention, and fills me with excitement,” Moresco said. “What I really credit, and will never stop being thankful for, is the invaluable expert training and mentoring that I received in the labs I was lucky enough to work in during my undergraduate career.”