It’s Shark Week! Explore 5 Rewarding Marine Biology Careers

Ah yes, August is here. The dog days of summer are upon us. And for many, a long-awaited TV event finally arrives: Shark Week on Discovery Channel.If Jaws scared you so much that you still refuse to go in the water, Shark Week provides another look at these amazing animals, the oceans they live in, and how humans are threatening their survival. (That’s right. Believe it or not, we pose a much bigger risk to them than they do to us.) It also gives viewers a chance to see the amazing marine biology professionals who study, observe, and even swim with sharks in action.Whether or not you’re ready to don a wet suit and jump into a shark cage, Shark Week highlights marine biology careers of all sorts. Here’s a look at our favorite careers that can put you at the forefront of marine study and conservation.Marine Biology Careers
If watching Shark Week makes you want to don a snorkel mask, hop into a boat, and study the nocturnal feeding habits of a lemon shark, you should look into become a marine biologist.Marine biologists are the scientists who study the plants, animals and bacteria that make up the ocean’s delicate and elaborate ecosystem. In addition to being familiar with other principles of oceanography, such as chemical oceanography and physical oceanography, most marine biologists focus on one specific species to study throughout their career.What you’ll need to get started:
You will need a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology, or a related field to get started. From there, you’ll also need to pursue a master’s and/or a doctorate degree.Aquatic Scientist Careers
Do you love research? Do you want to be on the brink of environmental studies that can protect and preserve our oceans, lakes, and rivers? You may want to consider a career as an aquatic scientist.Similar to marine biologists, aquatic scientists study literally everything about the water that covers much of our planet, from the chemical make-up to the temperature at the sea floor. Oceanographers study oceans and ocean life specifically, while limnologists study inland water systems, including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and wetlands.Within each of these broader fields, there are specialized scientists who study different parts of our oceans, lakes and rivers. Chemical oceanographers, for example, study and monitor the chemical make-up of the ocean, while physical oceanographers observe the ocean’s currents and circulation, and how that affects sea life.What you’ll need to get started:
During your undergraduate education, pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology, or a related field to get started. The next step is an advanced degree, either a master’s and/or a doctorate degree, to give you the research skills you’ll need to further your career.Aquarist Careers
Ever wonder who picks out and cares for those massive fish tanks in your favorite aquarium? Enter the aquarist. These professionals are responsible for collecting the fish in different exhibits, making sure they play nice with each other, feeding them, cleaning their tanks, and watching for signs of illness or injury.What you’ll need to get started:
In general, a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology, or a related field will help you get started. By volunteering, interning or working at an aquarium, zoo or pet store, you’ll gain hands-on experience that will give you an edge in the hiring process. You may also need a SCUBA certification for days when you’ll enter the tank to care for and feed your charges.Marine Mammal Trainer Careers
When you think of a marine biology career, do you think of the marine mammal trainers who swim with Shamu and the other orcas and dolphins at Sea World? If so, you’re not alone. Marine mammal trainer careers at zoos, aquariums, and water parks remain some of today’s most popular marine biology careers.In addition to training the animals, marine mammal trainers are also in charge of feeding, cleaning the tanks, monitoring the animal’s health, and coordinating with veterinarians and other park employees.What you’ll need to get started:
Although it’s not necessary, a bachelor’s degree in zoology, biology, psychology, or marine biology is a great way to start this career. You’ll also need experience working with animals in a pet store, veterinarian’s office, or related business. Volunteering is great way to get your foot in the door for these competitive jobs. And, if you have the time and resources, having a SCUBA certification is also highly beneficial.Education Specialist Careers
Education specialists are like the docents of the aquarium world. They’re the ones who coordinate special visits for school groups to see new exhibits, lead tours of the aquarium, and answer your questions about the suspicious-looking angler fish in the deep sea tank.What you’ll need to get started:
Many education specialists start out in another branch of the marine biology field, including working as an aquarist or helping with marine biology research projects. This means that a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology or a related field will help you start this career path.Ready to begin?
Find out more about the programs you’ll need on this bachelor’s degree page.

Neuromorphics – Morphing Biology on Silicon

Neuromorphic systems are inspired by the structure, function and plasticity of biological nervous systems. They are artificial neural systems that mimic algorithmic behavior of the biological animal systems through efficient adaptive and intelligent control techniques.They are designed to adapt, learn from their environments, and make decisions like biological systems and not to perform better than them. There are no efforts to eliminate deficiencies inherent in biological systems.This field, called neuromorphic engineering, is evolving a new era in computing with a great promise for future medicine, healthcare delivery and industry. It relies on plenty of experiences which nature offers to develop functional, reliable and effective artificial systems. Neuromorphic computational circuits, designed to mimic biological neurons, are primitives based on the optical and electronic properties of semiconductor materials.Dr. Carver Mead, professor emeritus of California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena pioneered this field. He reasoned that biological evolutionary trends over millions of years have produced organisms that engineers can study to develop better artificial systems. By giving senses and sensory-based behavior to machines, these systems can possibly compete with human senses and brings an intersection between biology, computer science and electrical engineering.Neuromorphic systems depend on parallel collective computation, adaptation, learning and memory implemented locally at each stage of processing within the artificial neurons (the computational elements).Analog circuits, electrical circuits operated with continuous varying signals, are used to implement these algorithmic processes with transistors operated in the sub-threshold or weak inversion region (a region of operation in which transistors are designed to conduct current though the gate voltage is slightly lower than the minimum voltage, called threshold voltage, required for normal conduction to take place) where they exhibit exponential current-voltage characteristics and low currents.This circuit paradigm produces high density and low power implementations of some functions that are computationally intensive when compared with other paradigms (triode and saturation operational regions).A triode region is operating transistor with gate voltage above the threshold voltage but with the drain-source voltage lower than the difference between the gate-source voltage and threshold voltage. For saturation region, the gate voltage is still above the threshold voltage but with the drain-source voltage above the difference between the gate-source voltage and threshold voltage. Transistor has four terminals: drain, gate, source and bulk. Current flows between the drain and the source when enough voltage is applied through the gate that enables conduction. The bulk is the body of the transistor.Artificial neuromorphic systems are applied in the areas of vision, hearing, olfaction, touch, learning, decision-making, pattern recognition among others to develop autonomous systems in robotics, vehicle guidance and traffic control, pattern recognizers etc. As the systems mature, human parts replacements would become a major application area. The fundamental principle is by observing how biological systems perform these functions robust artificial systems are designed.So the philosophy of neuromorphic engineering is to utilize algorithmic inspiration of biological systems to engineer artificial systems. It is a kind of technology transfer from biology to engineering that involves the understanding of the functions and forms of the biological systems and consequent morphing into silicon chips.For instance, the study of the structure of the muscle in an animal inspires the creation of locomotive robots that do not rely on heavy and power hungry servo motors. The fundamental thing is to understand how biological nerve tissues represent, communicate and process information. That would become the prelude to engineer electronic devices. Understanding the biologically algorithms of animals are vital and fundamental to reverse engineer the biological systems information representations and then develop systems that use these representations in their operations.The fundamental biological unit mimicked in the design of neuromorphic systems is the neurons. Animal brain is composed of these individual units of computation, called neurons and the neurons are the elementary signaling parts of the nervous systems. Neurons, which have common shape, produce electricity or chemical signals to communicate with other neighboring ones.Though these neurons are similar in shape, different connections with each other, muscles and receptors produce different computational results in biological systems: locomotive control, perception, sensory processing, auditory processing etc. Neuron is made of made up of input area (the dendrite) and output area (the axion) and is connected with other neurons by synapses.Since neurons are the basic cells of the nervous systems of all kinds of animals, building silicon neurons (or neuromorphs) endowed with fundamental life-like characteristics, could enable the emulation or modeling of the neural networks in biological nervous systems.By examining the retina for instance, artificial neurons that mimic the retinal neurons and chemistry are fabricated on silicon (most common material), gallium arsenide (GaAs) or possibly prospective organic semiconductor materials.In conclusion, it may not have changed the world, but the prospects of neuromorphics in medicine are many and could possibly herald the era of bio-grade artificial electronics human organs.