Opinion: Animal behavior and passion for learning

Madison Loos, Contributing Writer

The University is well-known for graduating outstanding students in many different fields. You won’t have to search too hard to find out how highly-ranked our School of Management and College of Engineering are. Although these two schools represent a large portion of students on campus, the University, as one of the nation’s largest liberal arts colleges, offers many other interesting majors.

Animal Behavior, one of the smallest majors at the University, has been keeping stride with engineering and management majors, but does not receive nearly enough recognition.

The animal behavior major is much more than what the common stereotypes may define it as. The major isn’t about looking at cute animals and trying to befriend them as many outsiders might believe. Instead, animal behavior is an intense combination of psychology and biology that is geared to offer new insights into the world of animal discovery. Right here in Lewisburg, we house one of the most notable primate observation labs out of all colleges across the country. Here, students are given first-hand experience interacting and observing some of the world’s most intricate primates.

Animal behavior majors start with foundational coursework just like any other major. Students eventually work themselves up to more complex courses, such as organismal biology, mammalogy, and a research methods course for students to design and run their own experiments. Through intensive lab courses, select students are given exclusive access to the labs on campus in order to truly immerse themselves in the daily life of primates and other organisms on campus.

Animal behavior professors are available to meet with their students at all hours of the day. With their help, three students have been honored with Marshall Scholarships to continue their study of animal behavior in the United Kingdom, along with nine students who received National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships. Students have been quite successful in putting their degrees toward jobs unrelated to academia. Recent graduates have obtained jobs in zoo design and aquarium administration.

Coming into the University as a declared engineer, I caught quite a bit of flack for switching to animal behavior. However, being an animal behavior major has enabled me to experience some of life’s most breathtaking moments while also working my way toward earning a degree that has value and can be put to good use upon graduation. I can say without a doubt that I am learning what I love and finding happiness within my studies. My education is allowing me to follow my dreams in one of the most beautifully unconventional ways.

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