Westerm is the ideal place for animal science majors


Students studying biology or chemistry are well positioned for local jobs in their field. St. Joseph is strategically placed in a field of life sciences, and particularly animal health research, said Linda Garlinger, Director of Career Development at Missouri Western.

“It’s just unbelievable to look at all of the animal related industries that are in this area, and how animal health is really in a big hub in the Midwest,” Garlinger said.

“St. Joe is considered one of the life science industries hubs in Missouri,” said Jason Baker, an associate professor of biology at Missouri Western.

Human health and animal sciences are concentrated in the western side of Missouri, whereas plant science is more of a focus of the eastern side of the state, said Ben Caldwell, associate professor in the chemistry department at Western. Caldwell is also the director for the Center of Natural and Applied Sciences.

At the annual conference of the Missouri Biotechnology Association’s Life Sciences Summit, Caldwell said he was happy that St. Joseph was prominently mentioned as part of a corridor of the animal science industry in the Midwest.

“We were quoted as being the capitol city of animal sciences in this region,” Said Caldwell, in reference to a presentation by a speaker at the conference, Lynn Parman, vice president of the Life Sciences and Technology Business Development Organization of the Kansas City Area Development Council.

Students poised to go into the field of life science may find their dream job right here in St. Joseph.

The industry does have a larger stake in major metropolitan areas, such as Kansas City and St. Louis, but St. Joseph has built a considerable niche for itself in Northwestern Missouri.

“We have had a good track record [at Missouri Western] of educating students and helping them to be ready to take positions in these life science industries,” said Jason Baker, an associate professor of biology at Missouri Western.

Often internships turn into full time positions. Students working with research and development teams working on a pharmaceutical or vaccine may lead to a full time position.

“It gives them the opportunity to be able to do the testing, evaluation and research. At Boehringer Ingelheim, in fact, we have had intern students do this and then go on and get jobs,” Baker said.

“Boehinger Ingelheim is a German company originally, but their main headquarters for all of their animal vaccine development is here in St. Joe.” Baker said.

Boeringer Ingelheim does vaccines and some pharmaceuticals for livestock, predominantly. It takes years of research to develop any given vaccine or pharmaceutical.

“Everything from the bench, science research of being able to grow and propagate a specific infectious pathogen, and then being able to manipulate it into some non-pathogenic form, that can still be effectively injected into an animal.” Baker said, explaining some of the hurdles of creating a vaccine.

“[The kind of research done] greatly varies. For example, at IVX they employ quite a number of our student or others who have experience in and qualifications to do analytical chemistry, for example,” Baker said.

Employees break down pharmaceuticals to formulate new pharmaceuticals, and do quality control of the pharmaceuticals that they are producing, to meet FDA standards.

IVX Animal Health in Saint Joseph is about to be purchased by Teva Pharmaceutical, and appears be gearing up for future growth.

Another local company is Becker Underwood, a global leader in inoculants and other seed enhancement products. Many employees at Becker Underwood have degrees from Missouri Western.

“They do the development of what are called microbial symbiotes,” Baker said. “They develop fermentation processes to grow and raise microorganisms that can then be added to soil for the fixation of nitrogen to help crop production. There is a booming industry in that area right now.”

Other companies in the St. Joseph area include Nestle-Purina, Hills Pet Foods, Advantage, Omnium Agricultural Chemicals, etc.

“Some of our students go into research and development, quality control, testing, product development,” Baker said. “Some even go into sales and working on the business side.”

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