Microbiology Majors Solve Problems That Are Anything But Small

program is designed to empower students to recognize and solve basic and applied microbiological problems relevant to human heal
The Microbiology major is designed to empower students to recognize and solve basic and applied microbiological problems relevant to human health and animal health, agriculture, industry, and the environment. (David Slipher/UC Davis)

How do teeny-tiny organisms influence the rest of life on Earth? This is the question on the mind of Daniel Oberbuer, a senior microbiology major working in Professor Jonathan Eisen’s lab in the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility at UC Davis.  

“I’m currently working on a study that aims to characterize the microbiome of hummingbirds in an attempt to determine whether or not they have resident gut microbes,” said Oberbuer.

Like Oberbuer, microbiology majors in the College of Biological Sciences have the opportunity to see how the smallest organisms make the large world go ‘round.

What is a Microbiology Major?

Biology major Imade Ojo works in the Microbiology graduate group
Imade Ojo studied Biology as an undergrad at UC Davis. She is now in a Microbiology graduate program, pursuing Entomology and Nemotology. (David Slipher/UC Davis)

Within the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department, there are two types of microbiology degrees: a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts.

  • With a BA in microbiology, you could go into such careers as teaching in science or working with scientifically based businesses.
  • A BS offers a more rigorous scientific course load, and many graduates with this degree go on to work in pharmacology, agriculture, ecology and biotechnology.

Since UC Davis is a tier-one research university, microbiology majors have ample opportunities on campus to conduct research with world-class professors. Research internships provide students with comprehensive experience, including lab work and important lab techniques. Additionally, internships allow you to conduct research that could actually make an impact in the scientific community and beyond.

Extracurricular Opportunities in Microbiology

Many different clubs recruit new students on the UC Davis Quad.
Many different clubs recruit new students to join on the Quad. UC Davis boasts more than 800 clubs and organizations across campus, including several biology-related clubs. (Greg Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Besides doing research, there are other ways to get involved on campus with this major. UC Davis boasts over 800 clubs and organizations on campus including a chapter of the American Society for Microbiology and several other biology-related clubs.

Microbiology graduate, Andre Poon ’17 BS, recommends students explore extracurricular opportunities on campus.

“I served as the education chair for the Immunization and Vaccination Awareness Club. Along with that, I was the treasurer for the Entomology Club, and I was a student teaching assistant for two upper division science courses.” — Andre Poon, 2017 Microbiology graduate

Although Poon spent most of his time with science-based activities, as the vice president for the Davis Scuba Club, he was able to relax and pursue a fun hobby in the midst of all his scientific involvements.

If you are interested in health careers there are also co-ed professional fraternities and societies specifically for pre-health majors, which includes microbiology. And if you want gain insights into classroom  instruction, you can work closely with professors as a student teaching assistant.

A microbiology degree will push you to observe the small in order to understand the big picture. During your time at UC Davis you will study everything from general biology and chemistry to the specifics of virology, microbial ecology or even bacterial physiology. It’s an encouraging environment in which to challenge yourself to reach your academic goals.

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