Friday - - Expert Q&A -

I am­study­ing in grade 12, with physics, chem­istry and bi­ol­ogy as my main sub­jects. I’d like to pur­sue a ca­reer in her­petol­ogy. Are there any col­leges or uni­ver­si­ties in the UAE that of­fer a course in this sub­ject or in other ar­eas of zool­ogy? If not, which are the best places to pur­sue this sub­ject? How many years would it take me get a PhD?

NAME WITH­HELD ON RE­QUEST A her­petol­o­gist is in­volved in the study, re­search, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, clas­si­fi­ca­tion and care of am­phib­ians and rep­tiles. To be­come a her­petol­o­gist, you need an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in the bi­o­log­i­cal sciences fol­lowed by a spe­cial­i­sa­tion in the sub­ject. The num­ber of years of study for a PhD can range from three to six. While in school, it’s ad­vis­able to opt for sub­jects such as physics, chem­istry, bio­chem­istry and statis­tics.

Apart from aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions, it’s im­por­tant to demon­strate pa­tience, per­sis­tence and an ap­petite for hard work as the job may in­volve long and un­usual hours. Pa­tience is needed while look­ing for an­i­mals in their nat­u­ral habi­tats dur­ing field­work. You’ll need a keen in­ter­est in re­search as it’s an im­por­tant el­e­ment in this field.

While it’s dif­fi­cult to find a de­gree in her­petol­ogy at un­der­grad­u­ate level, you’ll find good op­tions for in­sti­tu­tions that of­fer pro­grammes at an ad­vanced level. Look for re­search op­por­tu­ni­ties and guid­ance from fac­ulty mem­bers.

In the UAE, there are no aca­demic pro­grammes yet that fo­cus on the sub­ject. How­ever, there are plenty of ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­ni­ties in other parts of the world.

If you want to study in In­dia, you can pur­sue an MSc in wildlife sciences at the National Cen­tre for Bi­o­log­i­cal Sciences, Ban­ga­lore or Wildlife In­sti­tute of In­dia, Dehradun. North Orissa Univer­sity has a Mas­ter’s in wildlife and bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion. The Madras Croc­o­dile Bank Trust and Cen­tre for Her­petol­ogy of­fers cus­tomised pro­grammes for univer­sity stu­dents ac­cord­ing to their area of in­ter­est.

In the US, good op­tions for re­search are the Mu­seum of Com­par­a­tive Zool­ogy at Har­vard as well as the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­grammes at Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley. Bowl­ing Green State Univer­sity in Ohio of­fers bi­ol­ogy with spe­cial­i­sa­tion in ecol­ogy and con­ser­va­tion bi­ol­ogy and has an ex­cel­lent her­petol­ogy lab. Aus­tralia has amaz­ing eco-di­ver­sity so is a good des­ti­na­tion for study. James Cook Univer­sity, Univer­sity of Queens­land and Univer­sity of Melbourne are among the many op­tions. In the UK, Ban­gor Univer­sity of­fers a BSc in zool­ogy with her­petol­ogy.

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