Alumni News

February 11, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Career Corner | Parkinson Tells Biology Students: Have Good Work Ethic, Be Willing to Fail


Dr. Chris Parkinson displays a snake specimen in a glass jar.

Dr. Chris Parkinson displays a specimen.

By Kaitlyn Lyons

Ohio University alumnus Dr. Chris Parkinson came back to Athens to talk to students about biology careers and graduate school and to give a seminar about his research as part of the Biological & Biomedical Seminar series on Feb. 3.

Parkinson earned a dual B.S. in field botany and wildlife biology from the College of Arts & Sciences at OHIO in 1990. He is now a Professor of Biological Sciences at Clemson University in the Forestry and Environmental Conservation Department. He mainly teaches in the fall semesters, so he can travel come spring. Parkinson has traveled to 13 different countries in the past year.

The Parkinson Lab works on a host of projects at Clemson University and is funded by several federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Parkinson collaborates with scientists all over the globe. focusing on the study of evolutionary processes including speciation, trait evolution, and biogeography by utilizing phylogenetic reconstruction primarily in venomous snakes.

While he was in Athens for his seminar, Parkinson talked to current graduate students in Biological Sciences as part of the department’s efforts to give students career coaching.

His beneficial advice included: When applying to graduate schools, spend a long time writing your cover letter because they are a crucial part in the decision-making process. Research the school before applying and reach out to faculty to start building relationships early on.

“Being a good graduate student does not mean having a 4.0. It means having a good work ethic and to be willing to fail and being able to learn from that,” Parkinson stated.

Once you figure out what you want to do, set yourself up for success in order to achieve it. It is critical to make yourself stand out compared to the other candidates.

There was a big turnout for Parkinson’s seminar focused on his research in Irvine Hall.

Rattlesnake photo from Chris Parkinson


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