Turning a lifelong passion into a career is only an aspiration for most people. However, it’s a reality for adjunct faculty member Timothy O’Day. Growing up, O’Day had relatives who provided him with a strong background in nature and life science. Those experiences, combined with trips to the Buffalo Museum of Science, sparked his passion for science at a very young age.
Here, O’Day discusses his work as a biologist, a conservationist and the director of Campbell Environmental Center. He also shares his favorite aspects of Medaille’s biology program, and why the subject is so important in today’s world.
How did your work in wildlife conservation get started? What does it now entail?
Fortunately I can say that I have a career I enjoy. Conservation began during my childhood, working with every species I could access. The work I do is very detailed and contributes to a large number of sciences. I am the director of the Campbell Environmental Center, which is involved with careers, research, conservation and hands-on instruction for undergraduates.
What is your favorite aspect of the biology program at Medaille?
The small, personalized classes. Medaille’s small class sizes and atmosphere allow for knowledgeable instructors to assist students with their academic endeavors. In addition, the new life science and animal science courses presently being offered have endless possibilities for growth.
How would you describe the value of a biology degree in today’s world?
The value of a biology degree in today’s world is irreplaceable. Biology determines our quality of life. Many of our courses overlap with other careers, as well. A biology degree is like a tree — once it is started, many different career branches become available.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in a career in biology or the life sciences?
Contact as many different people in the field as possible. Having networks of people already working in the field of biology will help you decide which specialized avenue to pursue as a career. Asking questions and exposing yourself to as many different life science experiences as possible will help you decide which specialized area of interest you wish to pursue. Once you begin, be persistent and patient. Time and effort will be required.
Photo by Nancy J. Parisi