Dr. Dixie L. Smith
Phone: 620-235-4732 Fax: 620-235-4194
Who are biology majors?
What do students do besides study?
What's the biology building like?
Do you have large class sizes?
What about advising?
What other experiences can I look forward to?
The 340 Biology majors represent a cross-section of all students on campus. By gender, you almost equally divide between male and female. While most are traditional students (recent high school graduates), non-traditional students are well represented.
Biology majors come from all parts of Kansas, the greater 4-states area (especially Missouri and Oklahoma), and around the world. Many students reside in residence halls, while some live in town, or commute.
You will find biology majors as student leaders in residence halls, in student government, and as student ambassadors. In 2003, 5 of the 20 students selected for service awards were biology majors.
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As is the trend everywhere, most students work more hours now than did students 10-20 years ago. This places an additional burden on students, with less time for study but still a desire to graduate on time.
Southeast Kansas has many recreational opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, and camping. The southeast Kansas strip pits (lakes formed from pits left from mining days) are great for fishing and the land around them for hunting. We're close to great Kansas lakes and state parks (Lake Crawford, Elk City Lake, Fall River Lake) and not all that far from great outdoor opportunities from the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas. In the summer, the city of Pittsburg opens a large "Aquatic Center" with swimming, a raft ride, and slide.
Culture comes to southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri, too. Music and theater programs are scheduled throughout the year. PSU sponsors the Performing Arts and Lecture Series each year, there is the Pittsburg Community Theatre, and the famous Labor Day weekend "Little Balkans" Festival.
Heckert-Wells Hall has only laboratories and offices. Lectures are held in surrounding buildings. Three student lounge areas are located in the building and are especially crowded with students studying before exams. The department also maintains a small computer lab.
The Department tries to keep class size low for our majors. The largest class is probably Principles of Biology I in the fall, with about 48 students in each section. Most freshmen labs are capped at 32 and some at 24. General education classes, like General Biology or Environmental Life Science will seat from 75-100 students.
Advising is taken seriously in Biology. Each student is given an advisor in their field of interest. While pre-enrollment is always a time to "see" your advisor, come by anytime. To a great extent, we try to mentor our majors. More an apprenticeship than just "instruction", faculty look upon students as the future of our field. You will be assigned an advisor based on your area of interest.
In biology, you will have the opportunity to do more than sit in a class or lab. During the semester or summer, students may participate in research projects - as a part of coursework, an independent study, or working with faculty on sponsored research. These experiences enhance the undergraduate program. Several students have gone on to give research presentations at state or regional meetings of professional societies.
We encourage our students to take advantage of summer opportunities for relevant employment, workshops, internships, and so on. These experiences expose the students to the "real world" of practicing biologists. Often, credit can be arranged for these experiences.
The Department offers a variety of scholarships. Each spring, many departmental scholarships are awarded. Any enrolled biology major may apply. The funds are a combination of alumni funds from several sources. Unfortunately, there are no departmental scholarships at this time for incoming freshmen or transfer students, but the university does provide opportunities for freshmen (http://www.pittstate.edu/scholarships/).
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An important part of the undergraduate experience is participation in student organizations. In Biology, we have the Biology Club, Pre-Med Club, Pre-Vet Club, and Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta). Read about them below and get involved.
The Biology Club is a social and service organization whose goals are to bring together students with a common interest in biology to foster fellowship through a variety of activities. Typical activities include bi-weekly meetings, guest speakers, movies, local service projects, picnics, and educational excursions.
The Annual Biology Bowl, a part of Science Day held on campus each spring, is sponsored by the Biology Club.This dynamic organization welcomes all undergraduate and graduate students. See the poster board on second floor stairwell for information on meeting days and times and dues.
Pre-med students at Pitt State have many opportunities to get involved on campus and in the community with health related volunteer projects. Pre-med students from Pitt State are contributing to the community through the Pre-Med Club. Many members of the Pre-med Club volunteer several hours of their time one night a week at a clinic for indigent people. This free clinic offers valuable experience for the students who volunteer their time and it also allows them to get to know area doctors, and nurses.
Your academic advisors are very important to the success of your college career. They are the people many pre-med students turn to for letters of recommendation. They know how the medical school application process works and they can help guide you successfully through the applications and interviews. One important thing to remember: get to know your advisor and once you get acquainted with him/her, continue to keep in touch with them. Your advisor may have access to job opportunities or other information which could be used to your advantage.
The Premed Club has sponsored several fund raisers for the free clinic.
The PSU Pre-Vet Club aims to unite and promote the success of future veterinary professionals, regardless of their undergraduate major. Service projects, fundraisers, trips, vet school visits, educational and social events are planned throughout the year. Additional events such as the “Pets and People Parade” and the “Children’s Stuffed Animal Clinic” are designed to contribute to the community, bringing animal lovers throughout campus and the entire community together. The Pre-Vet Club is dedicated to preparing students for all aspects of their transition to veterinary school from their first day at PSU to their acceptance.
Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) is an honor society for students, particularly undergraduates, dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study and extending boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research.
Since its founding in 1922, more than 200,000 persons have been accepted into lifetime membership, and more than 626 chapters have been established throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
See more of a Biology Student's Life on our Facebook page!@PittStateGorillaBiology
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