Shippensburg University
Department of Biology

What is biotechnology?

Biotechnology is a collection of techniques that uses living organisms or substances from those organisms for specific applications.  Our ancestors used biotechnology when they first began to breed animals and plants, and to make wine and cheese.  Now, major techniques of biotechnology include the manipulation of DNA, immunochemical analyses, and cell culture. These and other technologies are drawn from advances made in recent years in the fields of genetics, immunology, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, and other life sciences.

What careers are available in biotechnology?

Careers in biotechnology are available at all levels of education and experience.  Individuals with a background and interest in biotechnology can work in a variety of jobs in industrial, government and academic settings.  These jobs can be in research, product development, production, quality control, technical writing, sales, education or administration.

Individuals in these positions are involved in solving problems ranging from the medical to the ecological. Some of the many career areas include:

      Medicine: discovering new drugs, creating new vaccines, testing for diseases, gene therapy

      Agriculture: creating biological alternatives to chemical pesticides, developing disease- and insect-
      resistant plants

      Environment:  bioremediation of wastes, analysis of endangered species populations

      Forensics:  detection and analysis of samples at crime scenes

      Food Science:  production of food products and dietary supplements, analysis of foods for nutrients, 
      detection of pathogenic organisms

      Animal Science:  genetic improvement of livestock, creation of improved treatments for disease

The Biotechnology Concentration in Biology

Students in the biology program at Shippensburg University have the option to concentrate in Biotechnology.  Students earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology that will provide them with a broad background in biology, chemistry and physics.  In addition, students in the concentration take a series of courses specifically related to biotechnology.  Courses in cell biology, immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and a biotechnology laboratory course are included in this series. Students must also complete either an internship or a faculty-sponsored independent research project.

A listing of the courses required for the Biotechnology concentration, and a suggested four year plan can be found at

Pre-Forensic Science Option

For students interested in forensics, we now offer a pre-forensic science option that provides the educational preparation required for entry into graduate programs in forensic science throughout the country.  The coursework defined in this program is in accordance with guidelines established by the American Academy of Forensic Scientists (AAFS).  The option consists of a Biology Major/Biotechnology Concentration with appropriate criminal justice courses. 

 A listing of the courses required for the Pre-Forensics option can be found at

Opportunities for student research

Students at Shippensburg University are frequently involved in research projects under the supervision of a biology faculty member.  Students frequently present their research at state and regional scientific conferences.  Facilities and equipment used by students for their research include a fluorescence-based DNA sequencer, a chromatography system for purifying and analyzing proteins and nucleic acids, an imaging system for analysis of DNA and protein separations, thermal cyclers for PCR, equipment for electrophoretic analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins, tissue culture facilities, scanning electron microscope, a greenhouse, and an animal care facility.

Some examples of student research can be found at

A listing of Biology faculty and their research interests can be found at

What are the internship possibilities?

Student internships are highly recommended.  They are available through medical facilities, government laboratories such as NIH, and private industry.  Summer internships are usually paid positions.  Internships during the school year can be either part-time or volunteer postions.
Some links to organizations that offer internships can be found at

Why attend Shippensburg University?

Science classes are small at Shippensburg University.  Laboratories for biology classes normally have only 12 to 16 students per section, and are taught by experienced college professors, not graduate students.  Faculty-directed student research is greatly encouraged, and students are able to get direct, hands-on experience with setting up experiments, using sophisticated instrumentation, and analyzing and presenting results.

Where can I get more information about biotechnology at Shippensburg University?

For more information contact:

Department of Biology
142 Franklin Science Center
Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257-2299
717-477-1401 or

Back to the Biology Department page

Links to various biotechnology topics and information about jobs in biotechnology can be found at:

Biotechnology Topical Resources 

Biotechnology Career Information Links