A native of New Zealand, Dr. Burgess has worked around the world as a practicing veterinarian and scientist. His areas of research expertise include cancer biology, virology, proteomics, immunology, bioinformatics and computational biology.
Dr. Burgess is currently Vice President for Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension, the Charles-Sander Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Director of the Arizona Experiment Station at the University of Arizona. The division has a total budget of $142M with over 3,400 students and 1,300 employees. UA has been ranked as the top performing university in the world in water resources. Its M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics is ranked as the 15th best M.S. in Economics in the United States, and US News and World Report ranked UA’s programs in plant and animal science as #22 internationally.
Under Dr. Burgess’ leadership, the division launched the Yuma Center of Excellence in Desert Agriculture and the Gary and Barbara Pasquinelli Career Center. He also led the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the creation of new undergraduate degrees in Biosystems Analytics and Technology, Food Safety, Nutrition and Food Systems, and Personal and Family Financial Planning.
A “first-generation student,” he graduated with distinction as a veterinarian in 1989 from Massey University, New Zealand. He has worked in and managed veterinary clinical practices in Australia and the United Kingdom, with services in horses, farm animals, pets, wild and zoo animals, and emergency medicine and surgery. He did a radiology residency at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, where he co-founded Perth’s first emergency veterinary clinic concurrently, and he has managed aquaculture facilities in Scotland. He did his Ph.D. in virology, immunology and cancer biology, conferred by University of Bristol Medical School, U.K. while working full time outside of the academy between 1995 and 1998.
Dr. Burgess volunteered to work in the U.K. World Reference Laboratory for Exotic Diseases during the 2001 U.K. foot and mouth disease crisis, where he led the diagnosis reporting office for the Office of Prime Minister Tony Blair. He was awarded the Institute for Animal Health Director’s Award for Service.
In 2002, Dr. Burgess joined Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine as an assistant professor. He was recruited from Mississippi State as a professor, an associate dean of the college and director of the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology to lead the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2011.
Since 1997 he has 190 refereed publications, trained 38 graduate students and has received nearly $55M in competitive funding.
Dr. Burgess has served USDA NRSP8: National Animal Genome Research Program as a Bioinformatics Committee member, was one of the two US (and the non-federal) inaugural co-chairs for the Working Group on Animal Biotechnology within the US-EC Task Force on Biotechnology, a National Executive Committee member for the Food Systems Leadership Institute, a University and Industry Consortium (UIC) Executive Committee member and was on the UIC Project Steering Team for its assessment project to define graduate numbers/quality/skills supply vs. demand in agricultural and biotech industries (a collaboration with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities).
He currently serves on the Agri-Business and Water Council of Arizona Executive Committee, the Board of Directors for Arizona Farm Bureau, the Governor’s Agricultural Best Management Practices Committee for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the BIO5 Institute Deans Advisory Board, Tech Launch Arizona’s Internal Advisory Board, Arizona STEM Diploma Project Advisory, Flinn Foundation’s Arizona Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, Reid Park Zoological Society Board of Directors, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Board of Trustees, Pima County Agricultural Science Advisory Commission, Fusion Farms’ Advisory Board of Directors, Petzey Technology’s Advisory Board, and is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources. He also serves on a number of university-level planning and strategy committees.
Dr. Burgess is honored to lead the University of Arizona Division of Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension as they advance their mission as a land-grant university by preparing students to be leaders and job creators, researching solutions to society's biggest challenges, and bringing the science of the university to the families and communities of Arizona.