Why Study Genetics?
What is Genetics?
Genetics is the study of heredity at various levels from molecules to populations. Because genetics occupies a central position in modern biology, its understanding is essential for any serious student of life sciences. Outside of academia, genetics touches many everyday aspects of human life. The food we eat and the clothes we wear come from organisms improved by application of genetic principles. Increasingly, management of human health also depends on genetic and genomic information.
Why study Genetics at ISU?
Iowa State University offers one of the few undergraduate Genetics programs in the Midwest. ISU also offers majors in many other complementary life sciences such as Microbiology, Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Agronomy, Animal Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Horticulture. Many of these share common introductory core coursework. Up to 20% of Genetics students have a second major. An even larger number of students earn at least one minor. Microbiology, Agronomy, and Psychology are currently the most frequent double majors or minors.
ISU faculty in at least 20 different ISU departments are involved in some type of basic or applied genetics or genomics research. These faculty provide students with a multidimensional perspective on genetics and offer a broad range of opportunities to get involved in research using a diverse range of organisms (bacteria, yeast, viruses, nematodes, fruit flies, zebrafish, reptiles, corn, soybeans, cotton, Arabidopsis, and many more).
First-year and early transfer students join a very active genetics learning community that helps facilitate their successful transition to university life and supports them in science coursework during their first two semesters. Students are assisted during June orientation and the fall semester by Learning Community peer mentors and by Academic Advisor Lois Girton who also teaches the Genetics 110 orientation class. Genetics students are assigned to a faculty advisor from one of the three departments that oversee the major during their second semester. Students are also invited to join the Genetics Club.
What can I do with a B.S. in Genetics?
Students with the B.S. degree find employment in the biotechnology, health, or food industries or in academic research laboratories. Recent graduates work as technologists and project managers for biotechnology companies such as Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, and Orion Genomics and in chemistry, biology, cytogenetics, and genotyping labs in hospitals, zoos, and universities.
Completion of the B.S. in Genetics also fulfills the coursework requirements for entry into almost any health-related professional program as well as into graduate programs leading to an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in biological sciences disciplines.
Students are encouraged to check graduate and professional programs of interest early in their academic careers for specific entrance requirements including both courses and research, job-shadowing, work, teaching, mentoring, or volunteer experiences.
Graduate Programs Chosen by Recent Alumni
More than 50% of graduates from 2002-2012 have now entered or completed graduate or professional degree programs.
About 35% earned or will earn M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in research areas. Biostatistics, biochemistry, genetics, nanobiosciences, genomics, neurosciences, plant breeding, microbiology, immunology, experimental psychology, pharmacology, bioinformatics, gene therapy, toxicology, cell biology, and biomedical sciences are some of the graduate programs these alumni have chosen. Institutions into which our alumni have been accepted include University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, Cornell University, University of Wisconson, Mayo Graduate School, Case Western Reserve, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Chicago, University of California-Davis, U of C-Los Angeles, Stanford University, Harvard University, Washington University, Boston University, Thomas Jefferson University, Iowa State University, University of Utah, Georgetown University, and the University of North Carolina.
Another 15% have chosen professional programs including human medicine, physician's assistant, genetic counseling, pharmacology, veterinary medicine, dentistry, nursing, optometry, and public health. Institutions include Iowa State University, University of Iowa, Des Moines University, Case Western Reserve, University of Cinncinati, Southern College of Optometry, Southern Illinois University, Indiana University, Boston University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Nebraska, and Southern California University.Profiles of some recent alumni can be found here:
Iowa State has state-of-the-art techonology that is utilized to deepen the educational experience for our Genetics students.
Information for Prospective Students
Course placement for new students