[FUN_Mail] FUN Newsletter - President's Message and Conversation

Mynlieff, Michelle michelle.mynlieff at marquette.edu
Sat Jun 28 11:33:51 EDT 2014

At the moment this is a very personal topic.  I have a son who will be a senior in high school and would like to major in neurobiology with the ultimate goal of a PhD.  Half the scientists I talk to think this is great and the other half say "run away!".  His other possible vocation would be a professional classical musician (on bassoon).  Science still seems preferable to music.  My view at this point is that an undergraduate (and graduate education) in science is great preparation for many careers as it really teaches one to think critically and analyze situations.  It may take some creativity to work this into a career as most faculty have little knowledge of how to go about searching for jobs and careers outside of their narrow experience.  As faculty we need to work on educating ourselves or get help from career centers, etc.  For years now we have been running a course called "Biology Matters" for our bio majors to get them to think outside of the realm of research PhD/medical school/dental school for careers.  There actually is a lot out there but students don't often know how to go about researching this topic.  We offer it to freshman who are not always ready to hear that medical school is out of the question.  We have been thinking of adding an additional course for upper classman.  We would like to offer more career counseling to our grad students as well but haven't gotten there yet.  However, we have had grad students go on to work in places like the FDA and industry.  One of our grad students who was a microbiologist runs the quality control labs for a brewery after doing a couple of post docs.  Knowing this student I can tell you it is a perfect fit for him and utilizes his knowledge of biochemistry and microbiology.  It is not that we necessarily need to train fewer students but the expectation that every grad student will take on a faculty position and write grants needs to change.

Michelle Mynlieff, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Sciences
Marquette University

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