Career Story: Biologist At A Small Research Institute

Biologist At A Small Research Institute

Job Title: Biologist

Type of Company: I work for a non-profit research institute that studies toxic contaminants in the environment.

Education: BS University of RI Wildlife Biology/Spanish •• MA Columbia University/ Conservation Biology

Previous Experience: I have held a research position with the Millennium Village Project of the Earth Institute at Columbia University as a GIS analyst.

Job Tasks: I work for such a small organization that I do a lot of everything. I do GIS analysis for any research data that we collect. I run an ecosystem monitoring program and I run a monthly lecture series. I write press, web sites, grants and proposals. I design research programs and execute them in the field. I respond to calls about stranded marine mammals by going to check on them and bring them to rehabilitation center if necessary. I do field work that involves cutting up dead seals for tissue samples and driving a boat around the ocean to take water samples.

I also do some lab work analyzing nutrients and bacteria as well as toxic chemicals.In the winter, I do a lot of desk work. I also talk a lot with scientists in other organizations, travel to conferences and do research on the internet. There is a lot of busy work to do such as emailing, phone calls, updating email lists and organizing files.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is the field research and the feeling of doing something useful in the world. You also get to use your brain all day. The worst is working for one person in a hierarchical organization. It is better to work with a consortium of scientists than for one Principal Investigator.

Job Tips:
1. Do not go to grad school unless it is paid for!

2. Learn a skill such GIS, database management, website design, graphics to add to your other computer skills.

3. Volunteer to do field work as much as you can during college.

4. Work for different kinds of organizations to see which you like i.e. government, NGO, academic and private sector.

5. If you can take time off, do so before college and TRAVEL!

Additional Thoughts: Remember this job is for those who want to do something for the world. It does not pay well. You will most likely have to go to graduate school to move ahead in this job. Also, if you get a chance to get your name on a peer reviewed article, take it!

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