Dr. Susan E. Wilson-Sanders
Susan's ancestors migrated to Texas in the early 1800's, when her great-grandfather obtained a Spanish Land Grant and settled in Robertson County, Texas. Susan was raised on Riverdale Plantation, near Mumford, Texas, a remnant of the Spanish Land Grant, and it was here she learned to love the land and the animals that inhabited her world. At the age of three, she was told by a family member that she would 'miss her calling', if she did not become an 'animal doctor'. Later, at the age of six, she learned firsthand about the illnesses that animals suffered from, when her Collie died of Canine Distemper and a calf she bottled raised contracted tetanus. As a result, Susan told her parents that she wanted to spend her life finding ways to help alleviate animal suffering. The desire to help animals expanded to deep fascination with science and medicine and led her to pursue and career in veterinary medicine and biomedical research.
Susan attended The University of Arizona as an undergraduate and was accepted to Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine. She was one of four women out of a class of 124 students to graduate with her DVM, in 1971. To pursue her interest in research, she entered A&M's Veterinary Pathology graduate program, and she became the first woman to obtain an advanced degree in pathology from A&M. After completing her graduate studies, she returned to The University of Arizona in 1973 to work in the College of Medicine's Division of Animal Resources. She established a laboratory animal diagnostic laboratory and spent a number of years performing research to find treatments for animal and human cancer, while also caring for the veterinary needs of the laboratory animals of the university. In 1985, she was instrumental in developing the university's animal care and use program to meet new standards for humane care of research animals mandated by Congress in the revisions to the Animal Welfare Act. In 1993, she was named Director of University Animal Care, the department which cares for animals used by the University. During her tenure as Director, she was Principal or Co-Investigator on grants that provided more than 25 million dollars in funding for renovation or construction of animal facilities. She was one of the founding members of the Southwest Association for Education in Biomedical Research and participated in writing, directing and producing media presentations and books that have been distributed world-wide to educate young people and the public about the vital importance of biomedical research in saving and enhancing the lives of humans and animals. In 1998, she was awarded the Billy Joe Varney Award for Excellence and was a recipient of a Vision 2000 Award for supporting diversity.
In her private life, Susan has continued the tradition of generations by raising horses and cattle. She and her family own and operate the Lazy S Ranch of Willcox, Arizona. Susan and her family have dedicated themselves to range improvement and fostering the welfare of native desert animals and the domestic animals that co-habit the range.