Advice for careers in biology, ecology, zoology & more from scientists John & Kendra Abbott

Advice for careers in biology, ecology, zoology & more from scientists John & Kendra Abbott



well animals rocky animals row climb bow your head in the newest Khan Shah all right welcome to my second video in my little series to help people get started helping animals becoming animal scientists any kind of career that would involve animals and I had so many responses and comments and questions on my first video that were from people much older than I expected that I thought I would bring in some real zoologist and animal scientists to help me out and answer these questions for y'all so we have John Abbott who is with st. Edwards University Wilde Basin creative Research Center you got it yes alright I and I have Kendra habit is white who is also an ecologist at st. Edwards University so what I wanted to do is I get a lot of questions about what zoologist do and what animal scientists do I understand that zoologist is not really you're usually getting a career or a degree in behavior or evolution or ecology you're talking about systems so why don't you tell us a little bit about what you're doing now your big projects and that'll help our viewers find out what what they can expect okay sure well I'm actually together Kendra and I are working in our big project right now is working on a the Peterson field guide to North American insects yeah I'm an entomologist by training and was curator of entomology at the University of Texas for the last 14 years and so I come from a very intimate centric background if you will in focus and so we're really excited about trying to put together this field guide it has not been since 1970 Wow that's older than I am a lot of insects has been discovered in that time a lot of insects the undiscovered since that time absolutely oh cool and for those of you who do not know if you've seen my baby your arthropod video these are the guys that took most of those pictures that I used in that and some of those I believe are gonna be in the old guy yeah so good so I'm an ecologist I say guys like I said and I've been working on a couple other projects I teach primarily at st. Edwards University and I really enjoy doing that getting people excited about ecology biology insects animals in general but I also get to hear it well basic monitor a lot of the populations out here so I do deer census from mammals plants insects and really sort of organized a lot of the research that goes on out here and outreach as well I also have some research that I'm doing on some beetles made of beetles to the area and looking at they're closely related to endangered species and a lot of students working with me to help figure out exactly why their range has differed in the past few years really good many more so lots of different things yeah yeah so that's one of the big questions I get is if I go into if I go to college and study you know some form of animal science am I really going to get a job working with animals so you obviously have been able to do that you've been able to do that how difficult is it to get a job that actually works with wildlife and I would say you know you need to think about what you want to focus on pretty early on these yeah it helps to get you to be successful in let's become a very competitive market yeah basically I would say that these days animals the focus I would say on specific groups or animals is less so and it's more looking at it from a systems approach where an ecological approach or a behavioral approach but not necessarily to focusing specifically on an individual animal or in the group of animals you know trying to take in and see how that animal work plant we should say kind of fits into everything and so a lot of times these days degrees are in ecology evolution and behavior instead of just biology for example yeah they're kind of most University they're going away from a zoology degree you'll find one or two out there done in a couple of universities the most universities are actually used to be called UT University of Texas ah passed and used to be a zoology degree and their savings of ology degrees now called an ecology evolution of behavior degree so it's just something that's a turn they're phasing up you have to agree yeah more specific really sure so as far as the the kinds of courses that they're gonna be taking they're still going to need some basic chemistry they're just doing some physics but they they're looking less of individual organisms and more like how they what kind of relationships they have and how how presumably their environment and what we're doing to their environmental so thanks again are we taking ecology classes that ecology whatever it is how they interact with their environment evolution classes yeah and then if you're really lucky then you also get to take some natural history class I was like looking at that the insects and the diversity of its our mammals whatever sea mammals are her lips yeah lizards and snakes and those sorts of things yeah because the ology classes yeah mmm ology the entomology ornithology yeah those unfortunately are becoming rare and rare you know but so if those are the kinds of things you want to focus on you definitely want to look at the school you're going to because not all schools offer those yeah typically it's more of the agricultural or land-grant schools in a state that will offer those kinds of classes okay yeah and and for me you know I did that the the general zoology and then I did a little bit of physiology and genetics and it was not until my senior year that I took herpetology was just sent me a blaze I just loved that course and ended up really changing my whole career plan so you know definitely look at those upper-level classes because I think that's where the really really fun stuffs are absolutely yeah which kind of brings us to our what we're talking about earlier today which is you know you give this undergraduate degree in a life science field and and I want to talk a little bit about what the kinds of job opportunities there are with just an undergraduate degree but also like why you might go on and get them a master's I get your doctorate so that's the other question I get a lot is can you really make a living with this so if you get a degree in a life science what kinds of career opportunities are there for you so I have a master in ecology evolution behavior and I would say if you if you only want to get a bachelor's degree but you really need to do is start out professors love it if you come in as a freshman or sophomore so if they can really teach you a lot of things and you can really help them out so find those ology classes and really latch onto those professors and start volunteering early in their labs and really getting used to how they do things and then also if you want to work in the zoo field or you know some of these wildlife places really start volunteering and I like wildlife rescue here in Austin yeah I know a lot of like I've worked also worked at Foster and Wildlife Center and a lot of their interns what they really wanted to see is that they were they were volunteering at some of these places so some of the local zoos you can volunteer at zoos or wildlife rescue things of that nature so really as an undergrad even in high school yeah start volunteering at those places because that really makes you stand out from some of the other folks it just kind of went straight through school yeah yeah you know get taking your test and you know doing well but they really look for people that have done something this in that profession or in that field so that they can be sure you know you really want to do this yeah I would want to step back in the statement about the opportunities for research I think that that's that's kinda dimension that and that was really huge for me it certainly opened the door to I knew I was wanting to go into entomology and pursue that but it opened the door that I hadn't even didn't even know existed which was into aquatic entomology a specialized field of entomology because I was working in a lab where I was doing my undergraduate that had an aquatic anomalies he was the entomologist there was an aquatic entomologist that many studied insects that were in the water group of insects I really wasn't even familiar with at the time still in flies and set me off you know down a path that I had I'm really enjoying you hadn't really even didn't know existed yeah and seen Edwards University it's fantastic for that we're really good here at mentoring students early on so I think anybody looking to go off to college out to just be a real friend can ask the faculty and advisors there do you get your you know your freshmen and sophomores involved in it and research very early on a lot of times you know opportunities that will come up or because of what the professor you might be working with who you know he or she knows or what opportunities that again you won't even think about it when you first starting like that and try to really don't just use it as an opportunity to go in and be in the lab really engaged try to get publications if you yeah really will be impressive even if you don't plan on going on to do postgraduate work that can really be impressive to getting future jobs and again I think you know st. Edwards University and your while basing a great research centers or things that we really try to focus on and do a good job or getting accepted into a masters or PhD program having that research and publishing or you know even presenting publishing presenting at mood oh yeah those types of things are really important and yeah I mean I've had students out here at Walla Basin that you know they come in and they're like yeah I'll do this summer research program which it's almost expected of students nearly they really want to open up the doors to allowing students to really hands-on field experience and they come out here you know maybe a completely different career path and then they start working outside you know measuring trees and the number and the size and that and then all of a sudden that the light just like whoa this is awesome and this is exactly what I want to do so I'm going in that field yeah so yeah definitely when you're if you're high school looking for an undergraduate or graduate looking for masters programs really look at the opportunities that they really break about because that's really gonna tell you what what they're focused on at the universe yeah yeah one point the other comments or questions that I had was you know what's the best school to go to and I had to say well you really depends on what you want to send the person writes right you know you have to look at look at those research projects the the professors are doing I presume and which ones sound interesting but I also really like what you said which is you know there are things that you just don't even know exist you know and until you're out there under the guidance of somebody who's already a professional you won't know what it really is to be a scientist we sue this stuff in the movies and we think we know what a sign it just doesn't really happen it's not usually portrayed very yeah you know yeah guys really lets you start once you start getting in and really talking to people I mean even at an undergraduate level I know well you know after getting an undergraduate degree and you know lots of people that have gotten jobs and like at some of these survey companies and I think good grief we have so many in the Austin area yeah like you know hundreds of these different survey companies that are actively looking for biology students to go out in the field and survey for plants or unnerving for insects and you know for pipelines to go yeah you work at fossil room with didn't undergraduate I worked directly with that's right yeah very common in the zoo field an undergraduate degree yeah and then masters masters levels you kind of get to direct your own projects and kind of make a little few more decisions and then let's get you a PhD level at the university level you're you're kind of starting to write grants and organize other folks to be doing the research other jobs outside of academia might start getting into more administrative PhD yeah yeah yeah if you're trying to get into the field okay awesome what do you have any other words of wisdom for somebody who's browsing YouTube looking for help getting started in a career that they that they love involves animals I would say don't be afraid to to contact we're here you know even the high schooler's going end up the you know to find an undergraduate institution to attend it their faculty are readily available these days with the internet and you get their email addresses you can find out what they're doing you know and if they don't write you back that says something yeah yeah I and and so you know ask somebody else to somebody else that's right but you know if you can forge your relationship and go and visit these tools and these faculty even again it's just the undergraduate level it's really critical at a graduate level especially at the under guard even at an undergraduate level I definitely encourage people be persistent don't email once you know yeah a lot that way you know it if a high school area email me I'm gonna be like you know I might like put that off and then a big email me go they're actually really interested in this yeah you know so just keep emailing you know if you don't get a response right away so take advantage of our real opportunities to create opportunities where you can and figure out what makes you happy what you're really enjoying I'll see how you can you know do that professionally volunteering will help you figure it out sometimes yeah so just volunteering and dabbling in these different things where you're not having to make a you know make a paycheck you know will really really help you figure out what you do want yeah I make money doing yeah I can open tremendous opportunities and doors they wouldn't even know existed yeah yeah absolutely well my you know I I had the experience of working in a lab and not really that was not my thing but I have a brother who's getting his PhD so you started working in a lab and absolutely loved it so you know I think if you come into this with an open mind if you're just curious in general about the natural world and how things work this can take you all kinds of places your life sciences there's so much more there than I think people realize yeah I mean they're anywhere from working lots of biology degrees end up working lab and then moving up from there or serving company people may think you know it'd be great to be in a you know a zoo situation or aquarium situation and working with these particular animals they probably a lot of times just think of it as feeding them petting them playing with their own odd kind of so interacting that way but there's more and more of these institutions are doing a tremendous amount of research and actively engaging with universities actively going away from the particular zoo doing research in the wild on particularly animals and so there's there's a lot of opportunities even you know in the traditional so really it feels yeah for real research yeah well interesting yeah because I you know I get that a lot it's gonna do – so I'll just really work in the zoo some of them do yeah yeah yeah well that was awesome so I will just say if anybody else has more questions I will be glad to try to answer them and call an experts to help you with the ones that I have a hard time answering but it's been great I really appreciate your time and you've inspired you know just so many people through your work to be to go on and pursue science so hopefully we'll keep on doing that through the internet okay make a whole generation of people who want to help out the animals it sounds great great thanks a bunch

30 thoughts on “Advice for careers in biology, ecology, zoology & more from scientists John & Kendra Abbott”

  1. Hi i know this is an old video but im really curious in how to start a career path towards being a zoologist im currently a junior in high school, going to be a senior in a couple months and id like to know what courses to take, i know you need biology or chemistry and i was wondering if you absolutely need chemistry aswell, I would like to work in a zoo and study the animals behaviour while also teaching people about the animals, Handling them and caring for/feeding them. Not sure if zoology is the correct path?

  2. I know this is an older video, but I found it really relevant and helpful for my situation. I am married and have an almost 2 year old son. I’ve started back up with my schooling after taking a 3 year break. I have to do it all online because I’m a stay at home mom. I am leaning heavily towards an environmental science or ecology degree and I hope to be able to get a decent paying job in the future working hands on and not pushing paper or spending all my time in a lab. I have heard the need for volunteering is really important and doing summer research etc. how can I achieve my dream degree and career while being a stay at home mom who can already only take online classes? My son will eventually be in school, but that is not for over 3 more years.

  3. Hi Lucas! I'm from India just about to give my 12th standard final exams. I had this craze of persuading a career that involves working with animals since I was child. Finally I decided to to be a zoologist! We don't have much opportunities and knowledge about this field here in India, neither are the friends and families supportive of the decision. I want to study and work somewhere abroad (preferably Australia) so badly! Unfortunately I have to do my bachelor's degree here due to financial reasons, I can't afford abroad . But I'm planning to go as soon as I finish my course. So can you please help me in knowing what are the ways or any exams that I can give to go abroad so that I get maximum scholarship (I'm a bright student!) or any important tips, coz I have zero knowledge about this. It will be great help on your part! And thank you so much for this video!!!!

  4. Thank you very much, this was very helpful! I am definitionally going to be more proactive in finding research experience next year. I hope it helps me figure what specific field I have an interest in. I am going into my second year as an undergraduate at University. I'm just trying to figure out what I want to do as a career because I haven't chosen a major yet I love biology and environmental science and there are so many different pathways and fields within those disciplines.

  5. Lucas, you are such a dear for taking the time to create videos like this, and answering every question you receive. I don't know if you're told enough, or at all, but thank you. 🙂

  6. Hi Lucas. I am currently a junior in high school and ever since I was little, I've wanted to work with animals. I am very interested in zoology, specifically with marine mammals, dolphins mostly. II was wondering what your thoughts are in this type of field currently or if I should have a backup career in mind? Thanks a lot. Love the videos.

  7. How do I deal with questions during my degree with the most incomprehensibly boring phrasing? Something like: '"Mutualistic relationships between species are essentially cooperative" Discuss this using appropriate examples. ' 

    HOW do I cope with that? I love the ideas in Biology, but when someone puts that on a piece of paper. I don't think I've ever seen anything more boring in my whole life!

  8. hello lucas  i am currently attending shasta college and its my second year but i really dont have a major but im wanting to take zoology and work with animals but i dont like killing them its just an oath i took but i do understand if the animals are sick and injured and cant be healed they need to be put down but i really love animals especially wildlife animals  my favorite is the wolf but i would love to be working with wildlife. what would i need to do for schooling and what type of jobs would be available for me  and were would i need to move to, currently i live in redding. im slower at learning but after i get it is memorized also if i dont do things like for example car and i dont do them for a long time i dont remember certain things. with this disability would i  still be able to find me a job in zoology with wildlife? but im willing to put in the hard work for this just not sure where to go for it or how to start it. sorry for the length have to be honest knowing what im capable of and my weakness is part of the hard work. thank you and your opinion would be greatly appreciated thank you for your time:)   

  9. Hi Lucas, I'm a junior in high school and I've known all my life that I've wanted to work with animals. I've done countless amounts of research and nothing compares to the phenomenal videos you make, so thanks for sharing!!! I'm looking to have hands on experience with larger mammals such as bears, big cats, wolves, etc. I originally wanted to go into wildlife rehabilitation but thorough research has shown me that it is mostly volunteer work. Also, very few colleges offer a zoology course. Working alongside large mammals seems like a dream which leads me to wonder if I can actually make a career out of it. Forgive me if this is a personal question but is there a zoology career out there that will support me well enough financially? Or should I look into something else with better pay because as much as I love animals, I can't help but think long-term. Sorry this is a little lengthy… your opinion on the matter would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

  10. Hey sorry
    Im not sure if you're familiar with the International Baccalaureate (IB) ?but to become a zoologist or study Biological Science is it essential to take another science (chem or phys) at higher level? It's just that I'm extremely into Biology, Ecology and animals in general and have wanted to study it all my life though I know I won't be able to cope with higher chem or higher physics because I am rubbish in comparison and have no interest in them. To get a job in the field and with studying animals, will taking just higher Bio and no other science be sufficient? Sorry if you've already mentioned this in the video.

  11. Thank you for the link, I'll be researching and mass sending E-mail's immediately at an amazingly annoying rate. Also going to find a biology related volunteer opportunity asap.

  12. I specifically want to work with African Mammals (mainly Elephants and Rhinoceros'), and I'm looking for schools more tailored for that. Any suggestions?

  13. Were any of you ever scared to choose a specific area of study? I am a senior at uc davis and i am still finding it tough to choose a niche within ecology/biology. I am interested in marine ecosystems, herpetology, and conservation. And advice for narrowing my choices?

  14. An appropriate fear of wasps and bees is understandable but don't let it keep you from enjoying your life okay? They are not out to get you–they sting when they feel threatened, not just to inflict pain randomly. There's a certain cost involved (some bees actually die when they sting) so they will generally leave you alone if you leave them alone. Most stings happen when some inattentive person puts a hand or foot on or near them so try to watch yourself and just stay calm when they come near.

  15. Hey I have a question that not much people seem to tell me. Ive had a phobia of wasps and bees since I was a child. Do wasps sting you for no reason? Or do they only sting you if they see you and you disturb them.

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