Why Study Ecology and Evolution?
Ecology has an important role within science and society. Ecologists gather information that can help society make choices regarding land use, public health and environmental regulations. Many ecosystems provide society with services including water purification, carbon sequestration and food production. Research detailing these services can help maintain them for future generations.
The Purdue Northwest Advantage
The Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University Northwest offers upper level electives that allow students to tailor their degree to their future career and educational goals. Six of the Department of Biological Sciences faculty have active research labs studying topics in ecology and evolution. This provides dedicated students with the opportunity to become involved in research by their sophomore year. These students often spend considerable time outdoors in habitats ranging from wetlands to lakes to dunes to forest depending on the project and professor they are working with.
Careers in Ecology
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology with the ecology concentration, an individual may work as a field technician for academic institutions, government agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency, or non-profit organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, or Save the Dunes. This program also lends itself to work as a lab technician in a variety of fields including environmental testing and basic research. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “environmental science and protection technicians do laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution, including those affecting health. Many work under the supervision of environmental scientists and specialists, who direct their work and evaluate their results.”
The field of ecology encompasses a many diverse sub-disciplines and so presents many job opportunities.
- Field technician
- academic institutions
- government agencies
- non-profit organizations
- Lab technician
- environmental testing
- basic research
Additional job experience and education is typically required for Environmental Scientists and Specialist positions. This can include a masters or a doctoral degree.
“I chose to attend PNW because it had the ecology option as a major, and I was very much interested in learning more about ecology. Classes for the ecology concentration are really enjoyable and interesting, and to boost your chances of getting a job in the field of ecology I would highly recommend doing research with one of the ecology professors.
My favorite aspect of my experience at PNW is the way I was able to feel a part of the biological sciences department. There weren’t so many students that I felt drowned out, and I was able to get to know and communicate with many of my professors because the class sizes are small enough for the professors to be able to get to know everyone.”
- Direct admission to the BS in Biological Sciences-Ecology and Evolution program requires consideration of standardized test scores and performance in mathematics additional to general University admissions requirements. Interested students who are not directly admissible to Biological Sciences-Ecology and Evolution may be admitted to a general admission program in which they can prepare for acceptance into the Biological Sciences-Ecology and Evolution program in the College of Engineering and Science.