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Biology professionals discuss careers on panel

Published on April 24, 2024

Biology professionals discuss careers on panel

From left: Rosario Arellano Melchor '22, Mariah Deyo, Paul Grulke '18, Kristine Zlotnick '23

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Department of Biology hosted a panel discussion on April 17 about careers available to students with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Facilitated by Amy Groth, associate professor of biology, the panel featured Rosario Arellano Melchor ’22, a research associate at Siduma Therapeutics in New Haven; Mariah Deyo, a park ranger for the United States Army Corps of Engineers; Paul Grulke ’18, a freshwater ecologist for GZA GeoEnvironmental in Manchester and Kristine Zlotnick ’23, a research technician at the University of Connecticut.

Deyo splits her time as a ranger between Mansfield Hollow State Park and West Thompson Lake, while Grulke works at Shenipsit Lake in Vernon, “either in a canoe or scuba diving.” Melchor and Zlotnick, meanwhile, work in laboratory research for a biotechnology company and a university, respectively.

All panelists agreed that there is no uniform set of qualifications to get a job in biology. “It’s a matter of where you want to work and what experiences you’re looking for,” said Deyo. “I’m not in the military and I work for the Army Corps of Engineers.”

“Apply to anything and everything that interests you,” said Grulke. Seasonal job postings sparked Grulke’s interest after graduating from Eastern. “You’re learning what you do and do not like.”

Grulke’s professional journey taught him a lot while reminding him of what he already knew. “I was done with school,” he said. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a freshwater technician.”

Zlotnick’s job at UConn intimidated her at first but opened her eyes to the collaborative environment offered by graduate programs. “It’s rare to find people who don’t want to help you,” she said.

While all panelists were able to get jobs using their bachelor’s degree in biology, Zlotnick acknowledged that graduate school is always an option. Working in a graduate school environment has taught her the rewards offered by these programs. “You get to solely focus on a project that is yours,” she said.

The panelists urged students to let their personalities shine through in job interviews, regardless of their qualifications on paper. “They just need to see your face and talk to you,” said Zlotnick.

Similarly, Melchor urged “constantly updating your LinkedIn” to reflect one’s assets in employability, but more importantly, to keep a healthy professional network. She got into her current position “through networking and talking to people about my interest,” she said.

The panelists’ words were largely reassuring for students. “I’m seeing that these people are in research (careers) with just a bachelor’s degree,” said junior Marissa Paquette.

Written by Noel Teter

Categories: Biology, Alumni