Taking a biology major beyond med school

Guest lecturers demonstrate flexibility within STEM fields

Biology department hosted an event titled “Biology Department Seminar: Diverse Career Paths in Biology,” on Monday, Sept. 25. In academic settings, biology students are often exposed to careers that represent only a small selection of potential careers for their degree.

“Being a chemistry major, there are a lot of jobs for you within pharmaceuticals or whatever,” said Adam Zeb, a senior biology major and co-president of the Biology Club. “With a business major, that can be applied in so many settings. However, when you get a biology degree, what can you do besides go to graduate school or go to medical school? This event was just really helpful to watch people with biology degrees go out and apply that major in so many different professions and fields.”

Visiting biology professor Rebecca Hazen and STEM career advisor Laura Kalb organized a panel with people who have used their biology degree in unique ways over a wide range of careers. The panel was meant to bring together a diverse group of people who have all applied their biology background to pursuits outside of academia.

“We really wanted to give students in the STEM fields, in particular biology, a complete understanding of some of the other options that you can pursue so they can be more informed about their choices,” Kalb said. “We see a lot of students go on to do research assistant positions, or research associate positions but it can really be a scenario where the world is your oyster with a biology degree. It can really depend so we try to focus on the individual and what their goals are to guide them along that unique path.”

Trinity’s science fields have been making a conscious effort to expose their students to paths outside of graduate school or medical school. This seminar was a part of that new effort.

“I don’t know about in the past, but now I think Trinity is getting better about exposing us to professions in the STEM fields,” Zeb said. “With the seminar, I think it’s helping people open up and I think the professors are really good. I know a lot of people who have gotten lab tech jobs in San Antonio just from connections with professors. When you get to your senior year, there are only about 50 or 60 biology majors left, and if you ask for help from a professor, they’ll help you get a job.”

“I plan to go to dental school, but I learned that there are other careers that you can do with a biology background from Trinity that isn’t medical school or health professions” said Lauren Cuda, a senior biology major.

The panelists included Grant Ellis, natural resource manager at the San Antonio Parks and Recreation department; Alicia Richarte, senior research and clinical technician at Hyperion Biotechnology; Hayley Sayrs, director of the Pollinator Education Action Sustainability Program; Anna Polanco-Ramos, San Antonio Water System environmental laboratory manager.

The Biology Club will be hosting similar event on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. in CSI 104.