Though on paper it may seem quite applicable to vet school matters, my major of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) was only tangentially relevant to what I’ve learned in vet school. The first time I felt as if I were back in an old college classroom was when we had our Comparative Anatomy course, which only began in April of first year. So it took almost a year for me to feel any semblance of my major being directly useful. We had some wonderful guest speakers discuss fish, amphibian, reptile, avian, and mammalian similarities and differences. The immense biodiversity on this planet, although sadly declining, is nonetheless remarkable. If people would stop eating sharks in their soup and instead come to appreciate them and their remarkable qualities, then the ecosystemic imbalances we see could be curbed. Did you know that sharks have tiny subcutaneous vesicles that can sense the weak magnetic fields produced by other fish, which, among other things, allows them to locate prey that is hiding under sand? How cool is that! I may never have a clinical case involving a mako, but if I do, I will be on the lookout for these structures. The course was chalk full of fun factoids like this.
The college course analog to the above was one of my favorite courses. OEB 150: Vertebrate Evolution and Development was partially taught by one of my favorite professors ever, Farish Jenkins (may he rest in peace). Farish was such a wonderful man. He is perhaps best known as one of the scientists who discovered the fossil of Tiktaalik, the creature first thought to make the transition from water to land around 375 million years ago, signifying a major step in tetrapod evolution. Though I only knew Farish for a little more than a year, hanging out in his office and seeing him draw lines on his pants to demonstrate how certain animals would abduct and adduct their limbs during movement will forever live on in my memory. His chalk board drawings were outstanding, his passion for paleontology and biology infectious, and his desire to help his students infinite. I am truly blessed to be among the ranks of students (and people in general) whose lives were touched by this amazing man.