Why did you choose to study an offbeat, unconventional and unique career such as laboratory animal sciences?

I am passionate about veterinary medicine. I have loved animals from a young age, and have always aspired to help them. I have begun learning opportunities in which the animals I love can help provide cures for many diseases and illnesses we currently face. I am now interested in studying cancers and infectious diseases in equines.

Original Link:

http://drexel.edu/medicine/academics/graduate-school/master-of-laboratory-animal-science/our-students-alumni/Athena-Patel/

The laboratory animal sciences program at Drexel University College of Medicine provides students with a unique opportunity to prepare themselves for veterinary school, while also gaining experience in laboratory animal management and care. Being the only program of its kind, the MLAS (MASTER OF LABORATORY ANIMAL SCIENCE) program has strong connections in the laboratory animal field and provides its students with great opportunities to work hands-on in an accredited lab animal facility. The coursework is designed to help provide students with a strong educational foundation that will benefit them in both the veterinary field and the laboratory animal management field. The reputation of the program with veterinary schools and the laboratory animal field makes any student of the program an attractive veterinary or lab animal manager candidate, which is a great benefit for recent college graduates like me.

What did you study?

I did my Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology & Paleobiology at Drexel University before enrolling for laboratory animal sciences program.

What do you like best about the laboratory animal sciences program?

The best aspects of this program are the hands-on experience and the connectivity between students and alumni. We take courses where we are taught how to care and handle lab animals. While providing a break from the monotony of regular lecture-based classes, these classes have also been the most beneficial as students learn more by seeing and practicing the techniques they will need to use in the future. Many alumni also teach the classes in the program and provide students with personal insights and experience. This connectivity allows the students not only to get a better look into the program but also to hear of what opportunities lay ahead of them. Many students find job opportunities through these alumni. The closeness between all the students and alumni makes the process far more enjoyable as each member of the program, past or present, are all willing to help each other out.

What kind of research and/or community service have you done through Drexel and why do you think it’s important?

As an undergraduate, I conducted research in the Palaeontology Lab, where I learned a lot about a field I had never been exposed to. I was encouraged to conduct my own research and was provided with many opportunities to interact with professionals, while still obtaining my undergraduate degree. I started off by assisting a graduate student with the morphological and phylogenetic implications of a 65-million-year-old crocodile. I later conducted a senior thesis on a different 65-million-year-old crocodile by mapping out its brain and inferring the crocodile’s behaviours and capabilities. As a graduate student in the MLAS program, I am a research assistant in a biochemistry lab where I maintain a mouse colony. In this position, I help maintain the colony database, breed the various strains to maintain their lines, assist in genotyping the mice, and assist setting up and checking timed matings. Both instances of research have provided me with unique opportunities to apply the knowledge I have gained in the classroom setting to research that is currently being conducted. Such experience is important for students to gain as they will be useful when obtaining jobs after graduation.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to return to my home state to work in the laboratory animal science field, while applying for veterinary schools.

Are there any specific jobs in the laboratory animal science field you’re interested in?

I have been interested in neurology for a while, and would be interested in working in laboratory animal science positions related to these fields. I have also been working at an equine clinic, and have been interested in equine research opportunities.

You said you want to go to veterinary school. How will your participation in this program help you with that goal?

This program helps provide students with some of the prerequisites that are required to apply to veterinary school with courses like microbiology, molecular genetics, physiology, histology, and pharmacology. Some of these courses can also count for credit and will not have to be taken at veterinary school. The administrators in the program also visit and form connections with a variety of veterinary schools, to help the students’ chances of getting into a school that best fits their needs.