Why Major in Biology?

By Leonard, William H. | The American Biology Teacher, August 2012 | Go to article overview

Why Major in Biology?


Leonard, William H., The American Biology Teacher


Those of us who have taught biology for many years have probably had many opportunities to discuss possible college majors with our students, especially biology. There are many good reasons why biology is a very popular major on most campuses. I think it is worth revisiting why this is so.

The field of biological sciences is absolutely fascinating. Biology easily connects to our everyday lives through the environment, our bodily functions, and our food supply. To me, that makes it one of the easiest subjects to teach, especially if you engage your students in true and active inquiry. There is a lot about biology that we do know: facts, concepts, theories, principles, and unifying themes such as evolution. All of that is interesting enough, but what generates even more interest among students is what we do not yet know. This begs exploration. In some of the hot new subfields such as prions and epigenes, we currently know very little. For example, there appears to be evidence of prions that are associated with disease (see Zaitsev article in November-December 2009 ABT) and epigenes that appear to surround our DNA (see Stein article in April 2012 ABT). But why are these particles there, of what are they composed, what do they do, and what are their mechanisms? I suspect these questions will tickle the imagination of almost anyone taking a biology course. The really difficult aspect that impedes research is that both prions and epigenes are so tiny, but that just adds to the curiosity factor. There are sure to be more new and exciting areas of biology in the future that beg investigation.

One benefit of majoring in biology is that it opens doors into all the health professions more than any other major. …

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