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By Lily Coates on October 31, 2017

Because our genetics form the most essential traits that determine the biological basis of who we are, the genetics and genomics is a popular and intriguing major here at UC Davis.

I remember learning about genetics in high school, specifically Mendelian genetics — the lesson with all the pea plants. Genetics at UC Davis is 10 times more interesting. With cool labs (like MCB 160L that explores principles of genetics), fun lectures (such as MCB 163 that delves into developmental genetics) and great faculty, what’s to not love?

By the time students graduate with a degree in genetics and genomics, they will be able to explain what generates and affects the diversity of organisms as well as to apply quantitative methods to biological processes to understand their genetic makeup.

The genetics and genomics major at UC Davis prepares students for a variety STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-focused fields in genetics. These include biotechnology, research, teaching and other private-sector employment in the biological sciences. This major, like all the undergraduate majors in the College of Biological Sciences, lays a clear academic path for those students looking to attend graduate, medical or veterinary school.

Graduates in this major have gone on to be founders and CEOs of their own companies, genetic counselors and professors directing research labs.

Focus on the field of biotechnology

Aasim Naqvi, a genetics and genomics major, has his own STEM-career aspirations. After he earns his degree, Naqvi plans to get a job at a leading biotechnology company and learn more about the field. His ultimate goal is to start and run a biotechnology company of his own.

Aasim found his passion for genetics from a Reddit thread called “Ask Me Anything,” in which Professor Paul Knoepfler from the Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy at the UC Davis School of Medicine posted about his research.

“I have been studying protein variants [these are single genes that have the ability to produce many proteins] involved in brain cancers with Paul Knoepfler at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for a little over two years,” he says. “It has been an incredible experience, and we are looking to write a manuscript in the coming months.”

Aasim likes the fact that “so much work results in a conclusion that no one else has come to before.”

Many genetics internships and networking opportunities

Because of its status as a research university and proximity to Sacramento, California’s state capital, UC Davis offers students a range of internship opportunities in genetics and genomics. The Internship and Career Center on campus helps students find internships in their fields of interest.

Getting involved on campus can seem daunting, but connecting with others in your major is easy. If you want to share your love and passion for genetics, join the Genetics Club and the Genetics Counseling Club. The Genetics Club offers networking with professionals, biotech and genetic lab tours, and information about grad schools. The Genetic Counseling Club provides a variety of resources such as resume and application building, networking with genetic counselors and current genetic counseling students, interview workshops, journal club, and information about graduate schools.

The genetics and genomics major prepares you for a variety of careers in the STEM world. Whether you want to be a researcher, a teacher, a CEO or a physician developing the next new therapy, this major is designed to help you get where you want to go.

Lily Coates is a student intern with the College of Biological Sciences marketing and communication team. Her internship combines her love of biology with her love of writing.


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