Research & Career Preparation

The Global Disease Biology major offers several opportunities to get real-life research and work experience and to prepare for a career in a GDB-related field.

Global Disease Biology Practicum

All students in the Global Disease Biology major are required to complete a research project (GDB 189) over 1 or 2 quarters during their senior year under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Projects may be lab- or field-based research, analysis of data sets, or writing of a review paper exploring a critical issue in global disease or health. Projects typically are completed on campus, but may be off-campus with a non-UC Davis mentor. In this case, students must also have an on-campus faculty member as a co-mentor and official Instructor of Record.

Students enroll in GDB 187 in their Junior year to identify and begin their research project. You can hear about first-hand experiences from GDB students who already have completed their senior research project on our blog or in our podcast series Practicum Pods (find the episodes on our website here or listen in on Spotify).

Global Disease Biology Internships

GDB students are free and encouraged to find internships on- or off campus as early as their Freshman year. These internships provide what is called experiential education. They represent an excellent opportunity to develop hands-on skills and to gain career experiences under the supervision of a faculty sponsor or other professional. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and may be taken for academic credit, depending on the type of internship and time commitment per week (see: Academic Credit for Internships).

Students should note that an internship is not the same as the GDB 189 Senior research practicum project, though for some students, the internship experience may facilitate their search for ideas, mentors, and/or locations for their GDB senior research project.

  • The UC Davis Education Abroad Center (EAC) has several programs that include internships. The best match for Global Disease Biology is the Latino/a Health Internship Program in Oaxaca, Mexico. This program includes coursework on transnational health, field work (malaria brigades), and clinical rotations in hospitals and clinics.
  • Child Family Health International has a number of programs that provide internship experiences for students.
  • Ecohealth Alliance has a number of international internships and research opportunities in disease ecology on a variety of zoonotic diseases.


"Overall, the practicum has allowed me to develop a much deeper appreciation and understanding of research and the process of scientific inquiry."

Global Disease Biology Careers

There are wide array of potential careers associated with Global Disease Biology including:

  • Healthcare including, but not limited to: veterinary medicine, human medicine, nursing, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy.
  • Public Health: health education, health policy, health management, occupational safety and health, environmental health sciences, health communication, global health, health preparedness, epidemiology.
    • Examples of large organizations include the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization!
  • Agriculture including industry, government policy (APHIS, USDA, CDFA), pest management, and graduate work in plant pathology.
  • Research in pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry, government, non-profit, and university laboratories.
  • Laboratory work in food/beverage industry, regulatory agencies (FDA, EPA), forensics laboratories, hospitals/clinics (Clinical Lab Scientists).
  • Teaching (K-12, colleges and universities, general public e.g., museums).
  • Science writing/technical writing.
  • Consulting (in health care, environmental, agriculture).

The Occupational Outlook Handbook can help students find career information on education and training, pay, and outlook for hundreds of GDB-related occupations, for example in Healthcare, Community and Social Service, and Life, Physical, and Social Science.

Other Resources

There are many resources available to GDB students when it comes to research, internships, and career options. Below are a few that can be found online.

  • UC Davis Undergraduate Research Center offers quarterly information sessions, workshops and advising. The research checklist highlights the steps to narrow down your interests and how to contact faculty for opportunities.
  • UC Davis Internship and Career Center offers numerous resources to UC Davis students including advising, workshops and career fairs to name a few. Health-Related Internships are offered quarterly as well as Transcript Notation for other internship opportunities. Handshake is a database of internship and career postings.
  • UC Davis Study Abroad has multiple programs for students. Program recommendations for Global Disease Biology majors can be found here and include Summer and Quarter Abroad Internships in Bolivia, India, South Africa, and Mexico, among other places.
  • UC Davis Health Professions Advising is a great resource for students planning on pursuing health careers. They offer both in-person and virtual services and events aimed to prepare students for medical school, nursing school, public health programs, and more.