Philadelphia: The New City of Science

Since 2011, Philly has played host to one of the largest and most attended Science festivals in the United States.

With the primary focus of engaging all ages within biology, chemistry & physics; in 2019, there were over 200 institutions that contributed to the various events which had taken place over the course of eight days between April & May.

The annual festival aims to support families in learning about the many subdivisions of science.

From polymers, superconductors, robots, neuroscience to personalized medicines; the variety of diverse activities enable both adults and children to gain a stronger insight through various hands-on science workshops available to the public.

'What makes molecules stick together? How does levitation work? How will robots change society?'

These are just a few examples of the questions that are posed within each of the many activities, and participants are encouraged to formulate their hypotheses to promote scientific and analytical thinking.

Many of the science booths are led by graduate students and those who possess post-doctorate qualifications from the University of Pennsylvania.

Situated in the heart of Philadelphia, UPenn is home to over 24,000 students, and the campus has one of Pennsylvania's most highly regarded science departments.

Formerly known as the faculty of Arts & Sciences, the college is an academic home for over 6,200 undergraduate students that are currently majoring in related degrees.

Recognized as one of the world's leading scientific research departments, the university specializes in the teachings of anthropology, biology & sociology.

The department of biology comprises 35 faculty members and 40 postdoctoral scientists, 50 grad students, and over 250 undergraduates.

The South End of UPenn's campus is home to three separate laboratories to which students of all educational levels have access.

The main aim, set out by Junhyong Kim & Patricia M. Williams (Chair & Professor of Biology), is to prepare students in providing a scientific foundation for a biological understanding of the changing world.

UPenn is proud of the multiple awards their faculty have received for their contributions toward biological findings and along with their outstanding facilities, this is what creates such interest amongst prospective students.

It had recently been ranked amongst the top 5% of colleges & universities to study general biology, ranking an impressive 14th overall across the United States.

However, according to College Factual, it isn't considered to be the No.1 provider for biology majors in the city.

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Studying Biology in Pennsylvania

One of the many campuses at UPenn.
Philadelphia is home to some of the largest state and private higher educational establishments in the United States. (Source: Visualhunt)

Founded in 1891, Drexel University is a comprehensive, research-based establishment, and is one of America's 15 largest private higher education providers.

Accredited for its unique approach to studying, with an emphasis on experiential learning; the university has recently expanded across several new campuses and has proudly announced a number of new educational partnerships.

So, why opt to study at Drexel as opposed to UPenn?

It isn't an either-or situation, for they are both well respected for their science-based programs and are both situated in the heart of Philadelphia.

However, Drexel University is acclaimed for their state-of-the-art science facilities and is home to lecturers and researchers that are leaders in their field.

They also offer a variety of research areas for students with particular interests within the study of biology. From biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology & neuroscience; such vastness of topics ensure that students' academic preferences are catered for.

With over 14 additional state colleges and universities in the city, there are several additional providers to choose from.

1500 students are currently majoring in Biology at Temple University. and a range of graduate programs is also available to those that have completed their four-year undergraduate.

Hosting regular events, seminars, and conferences; the core faculty consists of over 30 professors that specialize in various science-related academic principles, from ecology, evolution, molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.

Careers in Biology

Students at a science career fair
Science departments at both colleges & universities across the United States usually organize annual career fairs for their students. (Source: Visualhunt)

Recently graduated? You needn't flock to New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago to find exciting opportunities at your doorstep.

Depending on the many sub-divisions associated with the study of biology, graduates can expect a range of vocational opportunities upon completion of their studies.

Such opportunities vary depending on the extent to which the individual has continued in further education (post-graduate/doctorate).

A keyword search highlighting 'biology' and 'Pennsylvania' on Linkedin will produce 120+ current vacancies for those with a relevant academic background.

So, what job titles are in question?

Technicians in microbiology seem to be a common theme.

What does the job entail?

A laboratory-orientated vocation requires the candidate to perform various tests related to the development and safe manufacturing of various drug therapies.

Requiring an academic understanding of DNA extraction, such an opportunity applies to those with a formidable interest in biotechnology, a master's program that is possible to ascertain at over 10+ collegiate and university providers across Pennsylvania.

Alternative opportunities, in which the employee is less inclined to work within the confines of a laboratory, is a field-based biologist.

Field Biologists can work in numerous different areas, some of these include:

  • Animal Communication: examining animal's habitats, how various roles contribute to reproduction, as well as analyzing how communication signals within separate species contribute to the intended functions they wish to serve.
  • Ecosystem Analysis: the study of environmental factors that influence our world, establishing the factors which contribute to the influence of species loss and how preventative measures can reduce such happenings.
  • Ornithology: the methodological study of birds and how various implemented strategies can prevent distinction.
  • Landscape Ecology: the study of ecological processes, and how this influences our ever-changing world.

As you can see from the above examples, there is a breadth of opportunities for graduates in the field of biology. 

Although some employment prospects require the candidate to have acquired a post-graduate or doctorate qualification within a relative field, an in-depth job search will present several opportunities for undergraduates that are interested in securing a full-time position as opposed to continuing in academic study. 

From various junior positions to short & long-term internships, the job market has developed significantly over the years, and employers now value work experience similarly, if not more to academic background.

Why is this so?

In an ever-changing economy with an increasing number of NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) as well as start-up tech/science-based companies going through differing rounds of investment, the job market is now more diverse than ever. 

Compared to days of old, employees are now less committed to working with a singular company throughout the course of their employment history.

Because of this, the financial impact for a company/organization can be more damning, especially when it comes to new recruits.

Companies pay millions of dollars each year training employees that are new to the job market. If the employee decides to 'jump ship' (so to speak) in their second year of employment, this can result in that company/organization losing money, for the training/up-skilling of such employees may have been in vain. 

Therefore, companies often opt for their candidates to have a certain level of professional experience before hiring. This, therefore, results in a reduction of the employment transitional period, meaning employees will be an asset to a company at a quicker rate than those that have no formal professional experience. 

Seeking Additional Support? Biology Tutors in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia skyline
There are hundreds of specialist science tutors across Philadelphia that are eager to take on new students. (Source: Visualhunt)

Across the United States, from Boston to Houston, Texas, hiring a personal tutor has become a common ground for those still in a structured form of education. 

Whether that be from the elementary ages to students embarking upon a post-graduate, biology-related course; a popular approach for requiring additional support is by seeking personal support from those with a more superior knowledge within the area of focus. 

Isn't this approach a little outdated?

Not at all, actually. 

The development of technology has led tutoring sessions to be conducted with more ease, for students/tutors alike now have the options to conduct lessons through online platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts & Microsoft Teams. 

There are multiple benefits associated with such an option. 

Firstly, it diminishes any logistical issues that may arise from conducting face-to-face tutoring sessions. 

Often, students & tutors may have to travel for up to an hour to where the lessons will be conducted. Consequently, this will result in the student missing out on vital learning opportunities.

If learning sessions are completed online, the tutor/student can compensate for what would be seen as lost time traveling to and from a designated learning place, and this can instead be utilized as additional learning time. 

Whether you're based in Central City, the Southwest, or the Lower North of Philadelphia, there are a wealth of science tutors that are currently available and taking on new students. 

With over 450 Philadelphia-based science tutors on the Superprof website, it shouldn't take a student long to find external support with their studies. 

Each of the tutors boasts a range of qualifications and teaching experiences, and a review of each of their profiles will soon present you with a range of professionals that specialize in scientific areas that may well be reflective of your educational needs. 

Mostly, each of the tutors offers their first lesson for free and can be contacted directly through the website, with an average response time of 24 hours.

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Christopher