Biology - From Classroom to Career Junior Year
Talk to favorite professors about possible supervised research projects you might do in your area of interest, in the summer or during the school year. On-campus summer housing is available. Take advantage of the opportunities for research, as recommended by the department.
(T)aking the chance to be part of a research project was another thing I have enjoyed and learned from. I encourage the students to be always in contact with their advisors and to have a plan to what they need to achieve ahead so they can start step by step until they get to their goal.
- Ali Abdul Majeed '12; biology major; currently a graduate student at the University Of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
Academically qualified junior and senior biology majorscan earn academic credit and gain teaching experience by serving as teaching assistants in biology labs. See department chair for details.
Biology also has peer learning groups (or PLGs) led by upper-level qualified biology students. Get some teaching experience!
Get Your Hands Dirty
Do you have an interest in gardening? The campus vegetable and herb garden is located across from the Charles F. Dolan School of Business. The garden is maintained using organic practices and harvested crops are used to prepare meals on campus or donated to local food banks. Talk to biology faculty Jen Klug or Tod Osier if you're interested in participating in this community outreach program.
Biology has department awards for outstanding students every spring; they are honored at the College of Arts and Sciences award night in April. Attend the event and look for projects that might earn you this honor. With your faculty advisor, gain experience in entering such a competition and learn how to effectively package and present your work - and yourself. Non-seniors are often singled out for their great work.
Attend the annual Sigma Xi poster session, held in Bannow every spring. See the work of other Biology majors, and imagine how your work will be displayed in future years. Contact: Dr. Jim Biardi, advisor. Ext.: 3465; E-mail: email@example.com
Talk to your faculty advisor about the two internships for credit that are allowed at Fairfield. Remember that summer jobs, not for credit, can be just as useful in gaining experience and building a resume. Also pay special attention to the large suite of paid summer internships offered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at universities across the country. These are excellent opportunities for focused, driven students.
Look for three professors, in and out of the department, who can speak about your successes in an informed way.
Final Career Choices
How can you best use your remaining courses and free electives to both round out your education and prepare for a career? How about possible graduate school work in Biology, or scholarships like a Fulbright Fellowship, or Teach for America. Talk to your faculty advisor.
Come and Hear From the Experts
The annual Biology Lecture Series brings to campus scientists from various biology disciplines who share their expertise, discoveries and experiences with students and faculty. The lecture series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Donald J. Ross Sr., a long-time biology professor.
Visit the website for current information on lecture topics, dates, and locations.
Research Travel and Study Abroad
There are several Fairfield-run study abroad programs, in particular Study Abroad in Nicaragua and Study Abroad in Brazil where biology students can go abroad and take Biology courses and not fall behind in their curriculum.
As part of a junior year Fairfield biology course, Dr. Caitlin O'Connell-Rodwell '87 spent spring break at a marine biology field station in St. Croix:
"I volunteered after I graduated and met ecologists from around the world, including an entomologist who got me my first job in Hawaii. It was very much a case of asking the right questions and being in the right place at the right time. The passion of those scientists is what caught me."
Interact With and Learn From Alumni
The department invites successful alums back for guest lectures and occasional Biology Career Night nights. Look for announcements.
Fairfield has a long history of success in preparing students with a solid foundation for the health professions. Since 1951, more than 2,000 Fairfield alumni have earned degrees in medicine and dentistry and are practicing throughout the world. More than 500 others have opted for other specialties within the allied health professions. Fairfield students have been accepted at almost every medical school in the country including Yale, Harvard, Duke and Cornell. Career Options in Health include Public Health, Toxicology, nutrition, and many others.
During the junior year, you finish up some of the required courses. It is strongly recommended that you take at least one English course by this time. Most entrance exams including the MCAT have a verbal section. Scientific thinkers often do poorly on these sections. Therefore it is wise to balance your skills by taking humanities courses which will force you to do critical reading and lots of essay writing. Philosophy, Religion, English and History are good examples.
Most students (excluding pre-meds) take their pre-professional admissions exams at the end of their junior year. Since these exams test your understanding of basic Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics, it is imperative that you have completed your required courses by this time. The MCAT is given several times throughout the year, but it is recommended that you take it in late spring/early summer so that your application can be complete by June. Remember to request a letter of recommendation from the Health Professions Committee. The deadline for applications is April 1. The committee interviews each candidate, reviews their academic performance and votes whether or not to recommend that student. Students whose performance is not up to Fairfield's standards may not be recommended. If this happens, you may support your application with three letters from individual professors in lieu of a committee letter.
Note: The summer between junior and senior years is usually a busy time. Now is the best time to fill out applications. This is more complicated than it sounds (will take you hours!) so allow plenty of time. Nearly all health professions schools have rolling admissions so it is to your advantage to get your applications in as soon as possible. However, it is most common for pre-medical students specifically to apply after senior year. Students who were not ready in the spring or who did poorly on spring entrance exams may elect to take them in the summer.
BASE Camp (Broadening Access to Science Eduation
BASE Camp projects offer juniors and seniors a chance to serve as camp counselors in a fun, week-long experience with actual scientific research, across all scientific disciplines at Fairfield. Projects change every year, allowing students to choose from a variety of topics including biomedical science, medicinal chemistry, forensics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, marine ecology, software engineering, behavioral psychology, neuroscience, and biophysics, and applied mathematics. See department chair for details.
Attend the annual Sigma Xi poster session, held in Bannow every spring. Post your own work, or see the work of other Biology majors. Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, was founded in 1886 as an honor society for scientists and engineers. Contact: Dr. Jim Biardi, advisor, (203) 254-4000 ext. 3465; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's just the start. Take a look at this career information from other University offices that we think is also valuable to Biology majors.