While many have a desire to be a part of cutting edge research, some often worry that research will consist only of isolating, individualized work in a dark lab. The reality is a significant amount of teamwork and interaction is involved in conducting research.
Researchers may work in a variety of lab settings. Most in this industry work in offices or laboratories, and the location and hours of work vary greatly depending on the requirements of each project. Experiments may run at odd hours, require constant observation, or depend on external conditions such as the weather. In some fields, research or testing must be done in harsh environments to ensure the usefulness of the final product.
How to Get Started
- Pick a major in the College of Science or School of Integrative Studies related to the area of research you are most interested in.
- Take classes that have laboratory components so you can learn how to set up, operate, and maintain laboratory equipment, and also be able to conduct experiments while following necessary safety protocols.
- Keep track of all the tools and procedures you have used and list them on your resume under a “Technical Skills” section.
- Seek out research experiences with professors through programs like the Students as Scholars Program (OSCAR) or at one of Mason's Research Centers.
- Learn as much about grant writing as possible, which is how most research is funded.
- Get involved in science focused student organizations:
- Quality Operations
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work on a team as well as independently
Degrees and Certifications
A bachelor's degree in biology qualifies one for laboratory technician or research assistant positions. A higher degree is necessary in order to progress to a career in research.
- Earn master's degree for advancement opportunities, more responsibility and higher pay:
- Obtain Ph.D. to direct research projects and lead research teams:
- Mason's PhD Programs (see doctoral programs tab)
- Peterson's Guide to Graduate Schools (general graduate program research)
- Alltop - News and blogs related to Biotech and Science industries (search Alpha list)
- Science Career Cornerstone
- STEM to STEAM
- Fierce Biotech
- O-Net - Department of Labor detailed descriptions of the world of work to explore different careers and analyze specific jobs.
- Virginia Biotech
- Book of Lists - Washington (and other major cities) Business Journal online resource that will help identify target companies in your industry of interest and includes website links to each - check out the Bioscience Employers
- Students as Scholars Program (OSCAR) at Mason
- Mason College of Science Research
- Mason Research Centers
- LinkedIn to conduct informational interviews with alumni conducting research
- Join relevant student organizations (see "How to Get Started" for specific examples)
- Gain Research Assistantship or Internship:
- Handshake - search by industry
- ResearchGate - A site similar to Facebook for Scientists
- Department of Forensics
- American Association for the Advancement of Science Careers
- Career Shift - Job hunting and career management tool
- iSpyBio - Use this resource to identify potential bio research product employers
- Science Careers
- NewScientist Jobs
- Science Magazine Careers
- American Socienty for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Jobs
- BioOne Career Center
- Chemistry Jobs
- Physics Today Jobs
- The American Association for the Advancement of Science
- Virginia Bio
- Maryland Tech Council
- Association for Woman in Science DC Chapter
- American Academy of Forensic Science
- American Chemical Society
- American Society for Microbiology
*Note: These are just a sampling, more applicable professional associations can be found through Associations Unlimited.