What is Biology?
Biology is the scientific study of life, which included all of its mechanisms and effects at all spatial and temporal scales here on Earth and throughout the known universe.
What is a biologist and what do they do?
A biologist is not merely someone who knows a lot of facts about living things. A biologist is a knowledgeable trained problem solver. A biologist is a skilled person capable of asking informed and discerning questions about biological phenomena and who can devise and execute well constructed studies to test those questions. A biologist is someone capable of analyzing, interpreting, and reporting new and existing data and who can use this information to solve problems and answer question concerning life and its effects. Biologists also find new ways to use their knowledge to solve problems in applied fields such as medicine, agriculture, environmental management, biodiversity and conservation, fish and wildlife management, water management and pollution control, renewable resources, and human population growth. Over the past 20 years biologists have even begun to extend their studies to other worlds, searching for signs of life on Mars and the moons of Jupiter. The search for life beyond Earth is, among other things, a test of our most fundamental biological principles of how life works. Perhaps these fundamental principles apply wherever life exits, perhaps not – the questions continue.
Biology at Southern
The biology program at Southern Connecticut State University has a wide variety of basic and advanced laboratory and field courses. These courses provide students the opportunity to acquire a sound subject knowledge base and the practical skills needed to become competent biologists. Students can choose to work developing a broad general background or specialize along a particular track. Opportunities also exist to work with faculty on independent research projects. Upper-level biology courses also stress the development of qualitative, quantitative, and writing skill necessary for graduate school, professional schools, or applied careers in secondary education, government, or industry. In addition to courses in the biology program, students have the opportunity to build specialized ancillary professional skills via courses in GIS (Geography Department), statistics (Mathematics Department), chemical analysis (Chemistry Department), and geomorphology (Earth Sciences Department).
Thinking Beyond Biology at Southern: The Next Step!
Although the biology program at Southern is a good starting point, you should always be thinking ahead! If you already have a career goal in medicine or work in teaching then you may know how to prepare for those future careers – you may not have the specific details, but you have direction and purpose. If however you are not focused on a particular career beyond your undergraduate studies you may be unclear as to what your options are or how to make choices as an undergraduate biology student. If this is you, then perhaps one of the most important things for you to know is what your specific interests in biology are. You have to be able to clearly and concisely articulate why you have chosen to train for a career in biology and it does require some thought and commitment. If all you can say is that "I did well in biology in high school and thought it could be a good career" then you need to think harder about this. The reason this is so important is because your statement will drive most of your important decisions about your preparations and courses. It is also important to know that most professional careers in biology will require at least a Masters Degree beyond your undergraduate studies – so if nothing else you should train to be a competitive applicant to a graduate biology program. Please keep in mind that you do have a little time to work out the details of your personal statement and some of your introductory biology courses can help, but considering the practical matters of your time and money you should not progress into your junior year (here or at any other school) without a clear of idea of what comes next. Your future is up to you, but choose wisely!
Sean Grace, Dept. Chair
(Ph.D., Univ. of Rhode Island; B.S., M.S.,Univ. of Rhode Island,
Univ. Maryland, College Park)
Jennings Hall 217