Alumni Profiles - Meet Trish Whetzel
Hometown: Palo Alto, CA
Years of Graduation: B.S. 1991, Ph.D. 2000
Major: Animal Science
Minors: Biology, Applied Music
Undergraduate Campus Involvement:
Alpha Zeta, Equestrian Club, Ag College Council, Animal Science Club
Current Position of Employment or Education:
Outreach Coordinator at the National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO) at Stanford University
Describe your best Ag experience:
Picking a best experience is hard to do. It was great fun preparing and participating in Ag Day each year - organizing the pony rides during my Freshman year as a member of the Equestrian team to organizing the Ag Day event during my sesnior year as President of the Ag College Council.
Which Ag course was your favorite and why?
- Principles of Animal and Plant Genetics
Learning about DNA, genetics, and being able to generate our own karyotype was a great experience and fueled my interest in genomics and bioinformatics.
- Immunology of Domestic Animals
Immunology is a fascinating topic and Dr. Dohms was a great instructor!
Tell us about your current position or program of study and what led you to that field.
I am the Outreach Coordinator at the National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO) located at Stanford University. I work with biologists and computer scientists to demonstrate how the technology we develop can be applied to biomedical and clinical research as well as relay software requirements to our developers based on feedback from our user community.
How did your College of Ag experiences prepare you for your current job or post-graduate education?
During my sophomore year at UD I started a research project with Drs. Morgan and Dohms to identify virulence genes in Mycoplasma gallisepticum. As an outcome of this work, I became interested in analyzing gene sequences, genomics, and bioinformatics. While I learned the basics of programming from Dr. Schmidt for analyzing gene sequences, I pursued this interest further during my PhD work at UD and postdoc at UPenn. Along the way I learned of ontologies, which as a very general description are a hierarchical representation of concepts that provide a common language for scientists to communicate with each other (along with many other features). Working with ontologies enables me to utilize both the diverse biomedical background that I gained as an Animal Science student at UD as well as my computer science training during my postdoc.
What advice do you have for students interested in your field?
The Animal Science curriculum is very diverse and provides great opportunities to focus on a number of aspects of animal science, from veterinary medicine to animal biosciences.