A Deep Dive into College Majors: Biology
By Laura Fernandez, Press & Written Media
Biology as a major is a branch of science, and can sometimes be referred to as life or health sciences. It is the study of life, which includes living organisms, plants, bacteria, cells and animals. You take a variety of courses in your first and second year to broaden and solidify your foundation in science. This may include microbiology, organic chemistry, computer science, statistics, physics, psychology and calculus. In your upper years, you can obtain a specialization in more specific disciplines like environmental science, bioinformatics and biophysics. Some courses contain a laboratory component, which may involve using technology like microscopes to study living organisms or performing dissections of plants and animals.
A few courses that have piqued my interest as a biology major include zoology, botany, biochemistry, genetics, viruses, ecology, molecular biology, epidemiology, biometry, pharmaceutical chemistry, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, environmental science and science communication.
Zoology is the study of animals. It is a very interesting course which involves learning the proper nomenclature (classification system), as well as the structure, development, life cycle, types of locomotion and physiology of all the living organisms. Interestingly, I learned that spiders are not considered insects because they are part of the class Arachnida and not the class Insecta. I also learned that a sea jellyfish is called a Medusa because it is shaped like the Gorgon Medusa from Greek mythology, who had snakes in her hair. Overall, zoology is an interesting course to take if you like animals in general and want to discover new things about the creatures you love that inhabit this planet.
Science communication involves studying or analyzing different forms of communication where science is being portrayed. Practically speaking, science communication is evident when using social media to provide awareness to a general audience about a given topic — COVID-19, for example. There are many leaders in science communication, such as Science Sam, who share their knowledge on social media to spread awareness and help fight misinformation. I watched an interesting documentary called Chasing Coral in one of my classes, and learned about coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is a stress response, similar to a fever in humans, where the temperature of the surrounding water spikes above a normal range. The coral’s ability to photosynthesize and feed are no longer functional, thus leaving behind a transparent skeleton underneath. The coral does not grow and reproduce, indicating that it has died. Since coral bleaching is hard to communicate, it was shown in the documentary using underwater time-lapse footage that was shot by a team of scientists in Australia
There are many potential careers that can be obtained from having a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, which means that many doors will be open to you. These include becoming a teacher, professor, research scientist, analyst, and science communicator. You can also further your education and pursue a master’s degree, thus specializing in any sub-strand of biology that you are really passionate about. Most people will assume you want to become a doctor if you are pursuing a degree in life or health sciences, but this is not always the case. There is never a single path that must be taken. You could become a doctor or a specialist doctor, meaning that you will need to take an MCAT test, which is best written after your second or third year. This is because the knowledge is fresh in your head and you’ll be able to understand and apply relevant material properly. You could also become a teacher, which involves two years of teacher’s college and a placement. After that, if you have enough courses that count as teachables, you can teach high school science, biology, chemistry or physics. You could also take the pharmacy route and become a pharmacist, where you can just transfer into a pharmacy program without even finishing your undergraduate degree. This is all dependent on if you have a high enough average and have taken the required courses. You can also pursue a minor in chemistry or physics, which would give you more hands-on lab experience. That way, you can work in a lab as a technician or as a food chemist. You can also become a paleontologist and study fossil remains of different organisms. Who knows, maybe you’ll dig up some dinosaur fossils! There’s also a pathway to become a sports doctor by studying kinesiology, and how the human body moves and works together.
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