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Zoology/Animal Biology


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What to Expect

You need more than a love for animals to succeed in a zoology program -- you should also be good at science. Zoology students learn all about the planet's diverse animal kingdom.

A snorkeling expedition during a family trip to Hawaii sparked Genevieve Soloway's interest in animals. She studied zoology at the College of the Atlantic in Maine.

In high school, Soloway enjoyed biology classes. But she found her college assignments much more of a challenge.

"The assignments for projects and papers are almost always open to a lot of interpretation. It's good to talk to the professors about your ideas," she says.

Soloway's typical week included lectures twice daily, and lab sessions, field trips or dissections once per week. She had about about six hours of homework for each class each week.

She advises new students to be prepared for the length of classes at college, and the amount of new information. "Sometimes I have felt an information overload after a class. It helps to read the assigned material for the class beforehand, so that you have some idea of what is coming," she says.

Douglas Fudge took a PhD in zoology. He studied general biology as an undergraduate, but chose to focus on zoology at the graduate level. "As an undergraduate, the courses I found most interesting were the ones that dealt with whole organisms. I also had a strong interest in marine biology, so zoology was a natural choice for me."

As a PhD student, Fudge spent most of his time on independent research. "Although the ultimate goal of lab work is to collect data, this actually takes up a small amount of the time spent in the lab," he says.

"Most of my time [went] into preparing for a given experiment -- washing glassware, ordering chemicals, configuring software for data collection, etc., or dealing with the data once it comes in -- saving it into a data file, 'crunching' it, graphing the results," Fudge says.

How to Prepare

Take plenty of science courses. "In order to get a degree in a biological science, you often have to take classes like calculus, statistics and chemistry," says Soloway.

Fudge says that working on a science project with a mentor can show you what real research is about.

"I did an internship in high school where I worked with animals. This is great to see if you like the real work in the field of zoology. It can be very different from sitting in class and learning about beautiful and exotic animals. I think it is much better, but for some people it could be a surprise," says Soloway.


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