Popular majors – marine biology, forensics, education

A marine biologist, teacher and forensic biologist tell you what it takes to succeed in these popular fields

Popular majors – marine biology, forensics, education

You’ve seen these jobs on TV, or heard about them and thought they’d be cool. Here’s what to expect if you go into these popular field.

Marine biology 
 Laurie Bauer
What: Marine biologist working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Education: Bachelor’s in biology with a minor in environmental studies from Wittenberg University; master’s in marine, estuarine and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland.

Laurie Bauer’s biogeography team monitors coral reefs and analyzes how species are distributed throughout marine sanctuaries.

She also researches, analyzes data, writes and shares reports and does underwater surveys to collect data on fish, invertebrates and corals in the Caribbean.

It wasn’t until she spent a week at a marine biology camp in high school that Bauer found her future profession.

“Many colleges on the coast have similar summer programs for high school students, and I encourage anyone who is interested in marine biology to take advantage of something like this,” she says.

You don’t have to major in marine biology specifically as an undergrad, but do look for semester or summer marine science programs. Plan to take a healthy dose of biology, science and math courses, too.

Be aware that a job in marine biology doesn’t necessarily mean endless days on the ocean. There are jobs in research, labs, government agencies and policy legislation.

Laura Ascroft
What: Forensic biologist for the Monroe County Crime Laboratory in Rochester, N.Y.
Education: Bachelor’s in microbiology from Michigan State University; pursuing a master’s in forensic serology and DNA through the University of Florida online

Ascroft got interested in forensics during high school biology class. Now, she analyzes evidence for criminal investigations for biological fluids that contain DNA. She must document every detail of the evidence’s condition and her analysis, and provide a report to the police agency or district attorney’s office. She also testifies in court.

Ascroft enjoys combining her science skills with a crime-investigating purpose. If you’re interested in forensics, meet with a program adviser at a college you’re interested in to get a feel for the classes required. Get an internship in a forensics lab to see how unlike “CSI” the career field can be.

“There are no instruments that can perform DNA analysis in five minutes! If you truly enjoy molecular biology, are extremely detail-oriented and are not afraid of blood, then this could be the job for you,” Ascroft says.

Holly Saffell
What: Art teacher in Houston
Education: Bachelor’s in visual arts, SUNY Fredonia; master’s of science for teachers, Rochester Institute of Technology

“I teach art to a diverse group of students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade,” Saffell says. “Walking into my classroom, you would see experimentation and discovery as we draw, paint, print and sculpt.”

As an art teacher, Saffell teaches six to seven classes per day, with a planning period and duty before or after school. A teacher’s day doesn’t end when the school day does—she often stays late or goes in early for staff development, meetings or to work on project ideas.

Like any teacher, Saffell faces the challenges of managing a classroom and behavior issues in her classes. Teachers also have to strike a balance between working hard and not getting burned out. But for those who like to be creative, be on their feet and have a workday that flies by, a career in art education could be a good match.

“Make sure that it is something you are passionate about,” Saffell says. “I think no matter what obstacles you might face, if you are determined to be successful at something, you will find a way to persevere, whatever industry that might be.”

Gannon UniversityBrought to you by Gannon University.


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