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Biology starts career series

By Georgeanne Barrett
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
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The Biology Department is beginning a new career series to introduce students to a wide range of careers in biology.

Carol Bender, director of the undergraduate biology research program, helped organize the new event and said each part of the series would focus on a particular area relating to biology.

The first series focused on undergraduate internships and fellowships. The second series will focus on biology and business, and the third series will look at biology in health professions.

"Many students think a biological background can limit them," Bender said. "Biology can be a great springboard into business."

Bender said the focus of the career series is on making students aware of the career options available to them.

"For students who have some idea of what they want to do, this will give them a better idea," Bender said. "This will help students refine what they want to do, without making a commitment."

The Biology Career Series, which is replacing the Biology Departments Career Day, will consist of a three-part series in the fall, followed by three more parts in the spring. Each series, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, lasts three hours and includes a panel of speakers discussing their careers and individual experiences.

The career series is replacing the Biology Career Day because the career day consistently did not have a good turnout, Bender said, and organizers felt it was too chaotic having all the speakers in one day.

Bender said the career series is different because during the career day everyone was rushing from one session to the next, while the series is more personal and gives students a better opportunity to interact with the speakers.

Roxie Catts, academic advising coordinator for the department of molecular and cellular biology, helped coordinate the Biology Career Series because she said the series will give students a chance to meet and interact with people in fields they might be interested in pursuing.

Catts and Bender said with the poor career day turnout, they were happy to introduce the new career series. The first part of the series, which was held Sept. 29, brought a good turnout of interested people, Bender said.

"The September session was excellent with a lively and informative question and answer period," Catts said. "We received very positive responses from students who attended."

Catts said about 40 students came to see the five speakers at the September series. Topics ranged from experiences in the Peace Corps and nonprofit organizations to advice on applying for competitive scholarships.

Catts said the format of the series allows each speaker five to 10 minutes to give an overview of their careers. After the question and answer period, a dinner provides additional opportunities for the students to interact with the presenters.

Anyone is able to attend the series, and UA alumni who volunteered time to the event were also invited, Catts said.

Andy Lemieux, a biochemistry senior, attended the first part of the career series and said it helped him become aware of opportunities he never knew were available to him.

Lemieux wrote about the first series and the speakers involved for a monthly newsletter put out by the undergraduate biology research program.

"It was a really good series," Lemieux said. "I did not realize there were so many opportunities."

Lemieux, who will be graduating in May, is staying at the UA one more year to get his master's degree in biochemistry. He said he did not know what he wanted to do after leaving UA, but the career series gave him some ideas.

Lemieux said he was especially interested in what one speaker said about the Fulbright Scholarship, which fully funds recipients' research projects abroad.

"I did not know about the Fulbright Scholarship," Lemieux said. "I would really like to go over and study in Europe."

The second of the Biology Career Series will be held Thursday, Oct. 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. The final session for the fall series is set for Tuesday, Nov. 16. Each of the career series is being held in Life Sciences South room 440.

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