Utica College’s biology department launched a variety of new programs this fall that are being offered to students. One is a program that blends the fields of biology and psychology into one – psychobiology.
Psychobiology came to fruition after faculty at UC realized that a lot of students were juggling whether they wanted to pursue an educational career in biology or psychology. The biology and psychology departments had a desire to collaborate on this new major, tying together their joint expertise in these fields.
“There was a lot of planning and work that went into the major including several meeting with a large group of faculty from both departments, a feasibility report that was put together by our Provost’s Office, Office of Institutional Research, and me that investigated whether the major would attract students and more importantly, would it prepare students for careers and would they be able to find jobs after graduation,” Dr. Sharon Wise, the dean of arts and science said.
Students in this major can expect to be trained in using and understanding experimental methods across the fields of biology and psychology. Both departments, biology and psychology, will focus on specific parts of the program.
The psychology department will train its students in research design and analysis for research studies and experiments using human subjects. They will also focus on behavior and the human mind, as well as basic psychology.
The biology department will focus on experimentation related to cellular, endocrinological, developmental, and behavioral biology. As well as basic biology courses, students will be trained in animal behavior, neuroscience, and developmental and physiology of animals.
UC’s psychobiology program is unique with only 12 colleges in the United States offering this program. This unique blend of psychology and biology has attracted many students, one of them being Daniel Long.
“I was drawn to the psychobiology major, honestly, because I did not know what direction to go in for a career,” Long said. “I was, at the time, a biology major, but I also really enjoyed psychology classes. I was excited when I heard about the psychobio major. I could still continue taking biology classes, but would also receive a good amount of education in psychology.”
The career options for students going into the program are varied. The psychobiology faculty encourages their students to go on to grad school and they believe this integrated major will give these students the advantage when applying to certain grad programs.
Students such as Long have a desire to go into teaching after receiving their master’s degree. Others, such as senior Dain Heath, plan on attending medical school.
“Once I graduate I hope to start medical school to pursue a career in Psychiatry,” Heath said.
Heath, who joined the program because he thought it would pull together all of his biology and psychology courses, has had a good experience with the program so far.
“Studying both psychology and biology has been an awesome experience, especially seeing how the two interact,” Heath said. “The professors have been awesome! The courses are not simple, but the professors make the work worth it.”
A general theme among students and faculty in the psychobiology major is partnership. Establishing this major took a collaborative effort and its students have found a similar feeling from their classes.