Guest post by Joseph Alfonso
When you think about careers in biology what are some of the jobs you picture? Maybe doctors or other medical professionals come to mind. Maybe you think about park rangers, wildlife specialists, or a botanist. Maybe you think about a biology teacher, most likely in a high school. Or, maybe you think about some kind of research biologist with a specific field of study. This is a fairly simple, but common list of careers that I and many other students think about when considering biology careers. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in biology, I’ve been navigating that short list for six years and ended up on track for a job that’s not as often sought, teaching in higher education.
It’s not that academia doesn’t acknowledge biology education or teaching, but students aren’t typically interested in teaching at community colleges or primarily undergraduate institutions to start with. Everyone understands that there have to be teachers at these institutions, but why isn’t this presented in the same light as other biology careers? This lack of awareness and advocacy shows in the training because there isn’t really a plan of study for teaching in higher education. Almost every other career path in biology has some kind of job training like a professional school, graduate program, or undergraduate plan of study, but things are less defined for teaching in higher education.
Despite the lack of formal training programs, I’m not too worried about job training. I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who focus in biology education and have met professionals who work as educators, but I know that there will be a learning curve like every other career path.
Joseph Alfonso is currently in his first year in the Biology Ph.D. program with a focus on Bio-education at the University of Texas at El Paso. He earned his M.S. in Entomology from North Dakota State University and his B.S. in Biology from Christian Brothers University in Tennessee.