Being a Biologist

Biology Careers Teacher's Guide

Icon of a book with two icon images of a man and woman climbing stairs with briefcase.

Learning about careers sounds serious. But if something is serious and important to do, maybe it should be even more exciting than usual. This is why we have a whole section of Ask A Biologist that focuses on biology-based careers. We provide a variety of materials that let students explore possible career paths through reading, listening, and taking virtual tours. These are made for students of any age who are interested in learning more about the career possibilities in the world of biology.

Fun Immersive Virtual Tours

Students can explore different places where biology research happens through our virtual tours using a computer, tablet, or a mobile phone. Stay on the lookout, as we are working to add more tours to the site.

Assets - what is provided on the website

What’s a Biologist?

The career section includes information about the wide variety of biology careers that are available in our What’s a Biologist story. The story covers

  1. What a biologist is
  2. What a biologist does
  3. Basics about the scientific process of discovery
  4. How and why to become a biologist
  5. A list of biology careers with clickable information and examples
  6. Information on jobs in and outside of the university and how to get started on a career path
  7. Career tips and frequently asked questions

What’s a Biologist is offered in English, French, and Turkish.

Biology workspace VR tours

Students can explore what different biology-based workspaces look like using our VR 360 laboratory tours. Tours have pop-up information and pictures on research as well as careers, built-in recorded stories from researchers, and information on some additional related careers, such as artists who create science-based work. 

Our three current workspace tours offer a look inside:

  1. A university laboratory - Arvind Varsani’s research lab at Arizona State University features virus hunters, coyote poop, tardigrades, and a few interesting methods, including gel electrophoresis.
  2. The lab of the start-up company OncoMyx - The research and business space of a biotechnology start-up company features cancer cells, cold rooms, CEOs, and more.
  3. Savanna - The field sites of an animal ecologist working in the African savanna feature a hyena, elephants, monkeys, and more. 

We also have additional VR tours of biomes that feature work being done by additional researchers. Those include:

  1. Desert - southwestern Arizona desert features baby curved-billed thrasher birds, Gila monster, rattlesnake, and audio from a researcher studying Gila monsters.
  2. Grassland - American prairies feature insects and insect videos, signs of bison, cacti, yucca, and other flowering plants, and audio from a researcher studying the balance between the needs of humans and the land in the tallgrass prairie of South Dakota. Videos are hosted on Vimeo
  3. Rainforest - Panama rainforest features ants, termites, plant videos, and audio from a researcher studying ants. Videos are hosted on Vimeo.

Related lessons are being developed that will address common core discipline-specific reading and comprehension goals.

Related Career and Research Stories

We also offer more specific stories on university professors and researchers in the Meet Our Biologists Section. Each story comes with a page that covers the biologist’s research and another career path page that explores how they became a biologist. Some have also been interviewed for our Dr. Biology podcast. The specific researchers linked to our workspace tours include:

  1. Arvind Varsani, who studies viruses across many species in the animal kingdom

  2. Grant McFadden, who studies viruses and the immune system and who has co-founded a biotechnology start-up company

  3. Elizabeth Pringle, who studies the relationships between plants and animals (and other animals), mostly in the African savanna

Tour maps - how to find your way around

There is a map for each of the following VR tours that can be used as an overview of the tour and the locations for different points of interest. Teachers might want to use this as they guide students through the tour, or download and share with students for additional navigation help.

Additional tour maps

Materials and equipment - what you need to use these materials

  • Computers or tablets for use with the website and virtual tours
  • Pencil for filling out worksheets and taking notes

Tips and time required for classroom implementation

Time Required: 30 - 90 minutes, depending on how long students are expected to explore the workspaces.

  • Depending on the amount of time, students can explore additional tours or career resources. It is recommended that students visit the profiles of at least two researchers as part of the activity.
  • Virtual tours can be viewed on desktop, laptop, iPad, and mobile phones. Mobile phones also provide an option for VR goggles like Google Cardboard.

Classroom set-up

  • For classrooms with computers or tablets, students can be directed to the Virtual Research Laboratories page.
  • In classrooms that do not have computers but are mediated with a single classroom computer and projector, teachers can facilitate exploration as a group activity.
  • If the classroom lacks technology, all the content can be accessed on a mobile phone. In this case, the assignment might be given as homework or extra credit.

Teaching standards

Common Core

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.7-10.10
By the end of [each of] grades 7 - 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the [corresponding] grades 7-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

We are currently working on aligning these resources with more standards. If you have used this in your classroom to meet specific Common Core or Next Generation Science Standards, please let us know

Virtual Tours - tips for using our VR tours

  • Desktop computer with arrows indicating 360 view.

    The (VR) tours can be viewed on most devices including mobile phones. More tours are being developed and added to the collection.
  • Some of the scientists in the tours will talk when the cursor is placed on top of them. In these cases, there is also a CC option located toward the bottom right of the scientist that includes the text of the spoken words.
  • It is best to review the icons used for navigating in the VR tours before introducing them to students.

Bottom Menu Icons

  • Circle around a plus sign.
    Zoom into the VR image.
  • Circle around a minus sign.
    Zoom out from the VR image.
  • Rotate arrow in a circle.
    Auto rotate the VR image.
  • Three squares inside a circle.
    Open and close the tour thumbnail images.
  • Box with checkmark inside.
    When thumbnail images are open, checkmarks are visited locations.
  • Rectangle inside a circle.
    Move between sterographic image options.
  • Gryroscope inside a circle.
    Gryoscope On/Off. Visible only with mobile phones and tablets for magic window experience.
  • VR goggle icon  inside a circle.
    Goggles. This icon is visible only when using mobile phones.
  • Rectangle at the bottom left of a larger dotted rectangle.
    Enter full screen.
  • Rectangle with smaller dotted rectangle in the lower left.
    Exit full screen.

Tour Icons

  • Lower case letter "i" in a circle.
    Information Icon - information about a point of interest.
  • Pin-drop image showing a map location. 
    Location Icon - takes you to a different location.
  • Graphhic image of mountains with magnifying glass. 
    Image Icon – opens close-up image.
  • Clock graphic with an arrow pointing in a clockwise direction.
    Time Travel Icon – move forward in time in the same location.
  • Clock graphic with an arrow pointing in a counter clockwise direction.
    Time Travel Icon – move backward in time in the same location.
  • Graphic image of rectangle with play button triangle.
    Video Icon – opens and plays videos.
  • Closed Caption -CC- icon
    CC Icon – opens text box of any audio file that has a voice track. Usually located at the bottom right of the activation zone for the audio file.
  • Globe graphic with arrow pointing
    Leave Virtual Tour – leave the tour and go to additional information.

View Citation

You may need to edit author's name to meet the style formats, which are in most cases "Last name, First name."

Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Biology Careers Teacher Guide
  • Author(s): Patrick McGurrin
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: September 4, 2021
  • Date accessed: May 17, 2022
  • Link: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/biology-careers-teacher-guide

APA Style

Patrick McGurrin. (2021, September 04). Biology Careers Teacher Guide. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved May 17, 2022 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/biology-careers-teacher-guide

American Psychological Association. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

Chicago Manual of Style

Patrick McGurrin. "Biology Careers Teacher Guide". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 04 September, 2021. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/biology-careers-teacher-guide

MLA 2017 Style

Patrick McGurrin. "Biology Careers Teacher Guide". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 04 Sep 2021. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 17 May 2022. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/biology-careers-teacher-guide

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/
Cartoon drawing of a laboratory bench with a pair of hands holding up VR goggles.
Now you can take a virtual trip to research laboratories without leaving home or the classroom. Visit real working labs and listen to the short stories about what each person is does and how they got to their current job.

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