A Note to Incoming Students Interested in Biology: Why I Love the Biology Department (And Why You Might Love It, Too)
Congrats! You have decided that SLU is the place for you. You have chosen your FYP, you know your roommate, and you have registered for classes. You may still not know what you want to major in. Maybe you think you know, but you just aren’t positive. You know you liked biology when you took it back in 9th grade, and you have signed up or are thinking that maybe you should try out General Biology 101 here at SLU. I was in the same boat as you, and I am now here to tell you every reason why you should take Gen. Bio. And why you should definitely consider biology as a major or minor.
1. The biology department is large and fiercely supportive of its students. There are many professors that specialize in a lot of areas of biology, meaning that you have many opportunities to talk to professors and find the area of biology that you are most passionate about. Take the time to go to office hours to talk to a bunch of different professors. They are there to help you and they love to chat (and some even have chocolate).
2. General Biology will definitely be more difficult than any class you took in high school. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it. College is all about challenging yourself to do the things you thought you could not do. If you thought biology was cool in high school, I can promise that you will be blown away by all the new things you learn when you enter into the biology department at SLU. (For example, did you know that you have cells in your immune system that make bleach to kill bacteria?)
3. There are endless possibilities for research in the biology department. Starting as early as General Biology you will have the opportunity to complete an independent research project. For one of my independent projects, I studied how soil moisture affects moss growth, and for another independent project I looked at how varying light intensities and temperatures affected the growth of E. coli bacteria. In upper-level Biology classes, you are given more opportunities in labs to learn research techniques that you can apply to your own research. A lot of professors are doing really cool research that you can assist them with, or you can perform your own research with a faculty adviser. Your research could even be published!
4. You can study biology abroad! There are many programs in places like Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark that off a variety of biology classes. If studying abroad for a whole semester isn’t your thing, then there are also many biology-based summer study abroad programs. For example, I had a friend who went to Rome for three weeks in the summer of 2017 to take a class on the neuroscience of fear with a St. Lawrence professor.
5. Whether you are a biology major or minor, or even just taking General Biology, you spend a lot of time in Johnson Hall of Science. Lucky for us, Johnson is a very nice, eco-friendly building with a ton of awesome little study spaces, cool labs, and its own mini-café (with the best tomato basil soup on campus).
6. On a broader scale, the possibilities are endless when it comes to careers related to biology. Sure, you could be a doctor, but you could also work as a conservation biologist. You could work all over the world studying marine organisms. You could be a genetic counselor. You could be an environmental consultant. You could work for the CDC or the government and create public health policies. There is so much you could do, and being a biology major is an amazing first step. The professors in SLU’s biology department serve as amazing advisers, and they can help you find the career path that best suits you.
Biology is not for everyone, but if you are the type of person who gets awkwardly excited when someone says, “The mitochondria is the power house of the cell,” or if you think Charles Darwin is kind of cool, or if you want to know how life around you (the people, the trees, the bees, etc.) work, then you'll enjoy General Biology. You might realize you love it, and, at the very least, you are going to learn some really cool stuff.