MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: What do you suggest tfor12 yr old who dreams to be a zoologist?

Date: Tue Sep 8 08:58:09 2009
Posted By: David Richman, Staff, Entomology
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 1251046763.Zo

Zoology is a broad subject and there are many opportunities in several
sub-fields, such as parasitology, biodiversity, applied ecology and
entomology.  At the same time it is difficult to obtain a position in some
fields- notably taxonomy - even though these may be vital to our
understanding of the natural world.  I would thus advise your son to follow
his dream- whatever sub-discipline in which he is interested, but always
keep another, possibly related, profession in mind as a back up.  This is
advice I gave my daughters and in general it has worked.

As to becoming a zoologist- I would recommend you read John Janovy's book
"On Becoming a Biologist".  It may be a bit old for him, but perhaps not. 
In any case Janovy (who is a successful parasitologist in Nebraska) has
lots of insight into the profession. This is a book I wish I had read
before I entered the field!  I also think that your son needs to start
making contacts with people who are interested in the same area, if
possible find a mentor.  If he is interested in a specific area he might
write to specialists in the field.  Some will not answer, but most will. I
know that my early interest in zoology was helped along by other people
near my own age who were interested in the same area.  I also wrote to
specialists at the American Museum of Natural History and they very kindly
responded.  You need that contact to keep up your enthusiasm and love of
the subject when you run into road blocks or periods of very boring
paperwork.  It goes without saying that potential scientists, including
zoologists, need to study hard and acquire knowledge in the biological
sciences, but they should also work on their math (especially statistics)
chemistry, physics and their writing skills.

There are also a few sites on line that present some ideas on the subject,
such as "Zoologist Career Information: Becoming a Zoologist at,
"Zoology: 5 Steps to Becoming a Zoologist" at,
"Becoming a Biologist - How to Become a Biologist" at, and "Just
How Do I Become a Professional Biologist" at, etc. 

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