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STEM-Centric Career Assessments

It is no secret that graduate school requires an immense amount of hard work and dedication. In his interview, Dylan Jensen, a second year in CSU’s Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department, describes some major differences between his undergrad and graduate school experiences. In particular, Dylan suggests that graduate school can often be “a complete shakeup” for many students who aren’t used to getting anything below straight A’s and B’s.

So how do graduate students find the drive to keep going? “If the project inspires you, the excitement of being on the cutting edge will help all of the other trials and tribulations of graduate school seem worth it.” Read more about Dylan’s passion for research and see if you too are up for this challenging, fulfilling work!



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Staying on the cutting-edge of scientific research requires an awareness of how our world is constantly changing. People are living longer, technology is at our fingertips, and our climate system is changing at a pace we have never seen before. Thankfully, researchers like Shea Moore-Farrell are working daily to learn more about earth’s changing environments and reach innovative solutions to scientific problems of our future. Read more to learn about how Shea’s research will help improve energy and food sustainability despite earth’s fluctuating resources.

Not only is it imperative to learn how our world is changing to develop new technologies to adapt to these changes, it is also important to consider when discerning your career path. “Think about what kinds of jobs will be available in the next 5-10 years, and try to figure out how your interests can align with those”, Shea recommends. Read Shea’s full interview to learn about how staying on top of the changing patterns in our world secured his research, as well as how it can help you strategically plan your own education and job trajectory.

thumbnail_Lab Pic Shea Moore-Farrell

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What do humans, culture, science and technology all have in common? Answer: They are all constantly evolving! In fact, there’s a whole field of research dedicated to understanding the underlying principles for how things change over time. Jessica Warren, a researcher in CSU’s molecular evolution lab describes the importance of researching this topic in her quote, “understanding the molecular basis for how organisms change over time will provide some of the most fascinating and useful advances in science in this century”. Read more of Jessica’s interview for tips about how you can best prepare for your entry into this competitive and always changing field of study.


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Taking courses and getting involved in opportunities outside of your specific major of choice is a great way to explore and shape your own professional niche. “While working towards my undergraduate biology degree, I met a lot of other students who really struggled with the math in their classes.  I realized that being passionate about both areas gave me unique opportunities”. Read more about how Shannon combines her two passions to develop her unique role on a university research team where she thrives.

What are potential areas of interest that you get excited about? How can you find ways to combine these interests in your future career to set yourself as a distinct, irreplaceable member of a team?


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As a chemist Rachel Feeny finds solutions to important scientific problems through networking and collaboration. “Initially my interest in chemistry began when I realized that often solutions to real-world problems come from understanding things at a molecular level. Now I find it fascinating to take what I know and collaborate with scientists in many different fields to address shared problems”. This interdisciplinary work approach is often overlooked by STEM researchers who tend to spend a majority of their time in their respective laboratories. However, when individuals with different training backgrounds and skillsets come together, the possibilities are endless! Read more of Rachel’s interview to discover how she uses her training and network from various disciplines to foster innovated solutions to current problems.


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You never know where your interests, personal network, and perseverance will lead you in the STEM fields. This couldn’t be more true for Gareth Halladay, a present graduate student in Colorado State University’s Computer Science program. “In my undergrad I had a passion for anatomy and physiology and majored in biological sciences. Now, I look back and I am shocked because I never thought I would be in my current position where I am on the cutting edge of science and helping make new discoveries”.

Read more of Gareth’s interview to find out how she is making a difference by pairing her interests with her computer science skills to draw novel discoveries from hundreds of data sets.


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Julia has always had a passion for animals. “I had three Golden Retrievers growing up – all of which died of cancer. Needless to say, I’m extremely passionate about the work I do.” However, discerning her career path wasn’t always clear and easy. “If you are interested in science and math, don’t feel like you need to go down a cookie-cutter path. If you find a subject you love, keep exploring it—talk to people with a variety of jobs to help shape your career ideals and hone your interests. It is amazing how many opportunities are out there!” Read more to of Julia’s interview to discover how she shaped her own career niche as a veterinary cancer researcher.

Dr. Anne Avery and DVM/PhD student Julia Bromberek examine "Maggie" as part of their research into cancer in golden retreivers. May 14, 2015

Dr. Anne Avery and DVM/PhD student Julia Bromberek examine “Maggie” as part of their research into cancer in golden retreivers. May 14, 2015. Photo Credit: John Eisele

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No need to feel discouraged if you’re an aspiring scientist like Adam Heck once was. Even today Adam reminds himself, “In research you’re are going to fail… a lot. Roughly 80% of your experiments won’t make it past being a passage in your lab notebook. That does not mean those experiments were not important or that you are a bad scientist. Turn the page, and keep trying.”

Read more of his interview for tips on how you too can find your way to a successful, fulfilling career as a scientist.


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