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Cell Biology and Anatomy


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What to Expect

Cell biology students have to be very comfortable in a laboratory environment -- they spend an awful lot of time there.

As a graduate student in cell biology at the University of Connecticut, Donald Ammerman spent most of his time in the lab. "Another vital component of the day is spent in journal clubs or research seminars," he adds.

Even during his undergraduate degree, Ammerman spent about three hours a day on homework.

He says one of the most important aspects of his program was the availability of his professors. When he needed help, they were there. This is "an important aspect of any student's development," he says.

In fact, students should take advantage of their professors' knowledge and experience as much as possible. "Don't be afraid to ask questions. It is one of the most important skills to develop," says Ammerman.

Darinel Ortiz has a bachelor's degree in microbiology and worked on her PhD in cell biology at Yale University. She says graduate school is extremely challenging and time-consuming.

"As graduate students,...[she and her classmates had to] take classes, teach classes, give talks at least once a year, present our work in national and international meetings and, most importantly, do our research," says Ortiz.

How to Prepare

There are a few things you can do. Ammerman suggests taking a broad selection of high school courses, including arts courses. This, he says, makes for a well-rounded scientist.

"Volunteering in a lab to see first-hand what goes on is a great idea for anyone interested in this field," he adds.


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