Wes Schweer’s college path took more twists and turns than he could have ever predicted. He originally came to Iowa State to major in Animal Science with the intent to pursue a veterinary career but decided to finish with his bachelor’s degree and proceed to enter the workforce. Like all good stories his path doesn’t end there; when Schweer was looking for jobs his senior year he didn’t find anything that quite fit, so he decided to stay and pursue his Master’s degree which guided him into also receiving his PhD in swine nutrition in 2018.
While Schweer was at Iowa State University he was a member of the Beta Sigma Psi Fraternity, served as a TA for ANS 319 – Animal Nutrition, and assisted faculty members Nick Gabler and Lance Baumgard as an undergraduate research assistant. It was this experience that led him into his master’s program research where he focused on the relationship between swine nutrition and health. Answering questions like “how do different disease impact pig physiology and growth? Do sick pigs have different nutritional requirements than healthy pigs? How can we practically feed sick pigs differently?”
During his graduate research, Schweer pivoted his focus from nutrition and health when the National Pork Board presented him with the opportunity to write a literature review of growth promoting antibiotic alternatives prior to the implementation of the Veterinary Feed Directive in 2017. His review focused on establishing study methods and what alternative compounds the industry should focus more efforts on. While it was difficult to balance his core program research and the literature review, Schweer pointed out that he has no regrets about the situation and stated that “just as many people know me for the literature review as they do for my graduate research.”
Schweer explained that throughout his time at Iowa State the department put a premium on preparing students for a career in the swine industry. This included base technical knowledge industries were looking for, but also communication skills and exposure to industry professionals. Schweer is currently working in Swine Technical Services for Zinpro, a trace mineral nutrition company that he was introduced to as an undergrad at Iowa State University. Through this he interacts with customers not only in a sales role but also as an advisor of sorts, providing customers with information about different products and solutions that can help producers through challenges they may face. “Everyone experiences challenges, but not all the same challenges,” Schweer pointed out. He explained that the bloom in niche markets and antibiotic free programs has him busy figuring out what does and doesn’t work for these producers. While he started in a research position at Zinpro, Schweer has enjoyed his transition into this more technical role and specifically enjoys the customer interaction it provides.
Advice for students:
"Get experience, travel abroad, take internships and try new things. It is a lot harder to change your path once you are outside of college.”