The Who, What, Where of Careers:


Interested in bringing career speakers to your university??? Learn more about Careers in Microbial Sciences!

What does this person do? 

  • Teaches lecture and/or laboratory courses to undergraduate and/or graduate students
  • Writes grants to obtain money for labs or training programs
  • Reads literature, identifies gaps, develops hypotheses, conducts protocols to test hypotheses, analyzes data, presents major findings at national and international meetings, and publishes findings in scientific journals
  • Manages a budget and the scientists and trainees in a research lab
  • Sits on committees pertaining to graduate recruitment, curriculum, and training

Where does this person work?  

  • Community Colleges
  • Private and Public Universities (these can be designated as primarily undergraduate universities or research intensive universities)

What to Consider before Entering the Profession:

  • How much do you like teaching?
  • Do you like writing grants and managing a budget?
  • Do you thrive on conducting research and coming up with ideas?
  • Do you like having flexibility with schedules and research topics? 

Education and Experience Requirements: 


Education and Experience

Lab Technician

  • Associate’s, BS, or MS in science-related fields
  • Some research experience

Postdoctoral Fellow

  • PhD in science-related fields

Staff Research Scientist

  • MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in science-related fields
  • Postdoc  experience

Tenure Professorship

  • MD, PhD, or MD/PhD in science-related fields
  • Postdoc  or research scientist experience


  • PhD in science-related fields
  • MS or BS in science-related fields for community college positions
  • Experience varies by college/university


Other information:

  • Teaching and research loads will vary depending on the type of college/university. At community colleges, teaching is the only activity, there is no research. At primarily undergraduate universities, you will mostly teach and do a little research. This is the inverse for research intensive universities.
  • With an MD or MD/PhD, a person will spend time doing research, teaching, or seeing patients in the hospital. The amount spent on these tasks differs according to the job description.



Want to learn more? Check out the additional resources.

Testing the Waters of Research: Working as a Lab Technician

picfinalSome of us know that we want to pursue a Ph.D. and conduct research, while others may have doubts. If you’ve had an occasional internship or no research experience at all, becoming a lab tech is a good way to assess whether research excites you. We interviewed Brittney Ivanov, a lab tech at Trinity University, about what she does and what factors to consider for a lab tech job. Her experience has taught her that research is a very collaborative environment.

Navigating a Science Policy Career: Interview with Kate Stoll, Senior Policy Advisor for the MIT Washington Office

Katie Stoll 2Are you interested in science policy? Dr. Kate Stoll, a Senior Policy Advisor, share her career path, what she does in her current position, and how to be competitive for science policy. In her current role, she bridges researchers and policy-makers by creating policy-relevant reports that are shared with the government.

Is Undergraduate Science Teaching for You? (Webinar)

Undergraduate Science Teaching 2

Presenter: Laura Runyen-Janecky, University of Richmond
October 14, 2014
Duration: 56:11
Presented to the 2014-2015 ASM Science Teaching Fellows

Webinar Objectives:
• Understand the diversity of institutional types and teaching positions
• Understand employer needs and expectations for different institutional types
• Contrast the balance between teaching, research, and service expectations at various colleges
• Develop a personal teaching and learning plan to keep learning about teaching and to continue an ongoing interest in pedagogy
• Create a local partners networking plan

Click on the slide to open the webinar in a new page.

Samantha Elliott: Professor at St. Mary’s College

Elliott Samantha-150x150Samantha Elliott
St. Mary's College
BSP Research Residency Alum 08-09

Samantha Elliott is a professor and cell biologist/immunologist at St. Mary's College of Maryland, a nondenominational, coed, small, public liberal arts institution in St. Mary's City, Md. She teaches Principles of Biology I (with lab), primarily to biology or biochemistry majors; upper-division biology electives immunology and cell physiology (with lab); and Contemporary Bioscience, primarily to non-majors. Elliott's teaching career got its start at the undergraduate level. "I came to St. Mary's College directly from my postdoctoral studies, where I was also an adjunct instructor at a local community college for a summer session," she says. "Before that, I was a teaching assistant in both college and graduate school. My teaching assistantship in college is what led me to become a professor. I experienced one of those aha! moments as a TA, and I was hooked." Elliott says her teaching has changed dramatically in the five years that she's held her full-time, tenure-track position. "In the beginning, I was glued to my PowerPoint lectures and thought that memorized detail equated knowledge," she says. "I am now more concerned about producing lifelong learners with skills that will help them as scientists."