Study the theory of abiogenesis and learn about the potential for life on other planets
Students in the astrobiology program receive a broad education in areas that include planetary science, extrasolar planets and the origin of life. At the same time, students take a solid core of mathematics, physics and biology courses, allowing them to pursue a wide range of interests. To our knowledge, Florida Tech's astrobiology degree program is the first and only undergraduate astrobiology program in the country.
Astrobiology degree graduates are ready for graduate studies in astrophysics, planetary science or biology, as well as careers in the aerospace or biotech-related industries. Whether you want to study the effects of space travel on humans, discover past or present microbial life on Mars, or help develop ways to sustain life on the moon, you will be well prepared with an astrobiology degree from Florida Tech. Here, you'll develop a strong background in physics and biology and get hands-on experience with space science technologies.
The faculty advisor to astrobiology program majors is a former astronaut who conducted astronomy research in two space shuttle missions. As a student in the program, your first year includes a freshman seminar that provides an excellent introduction to the career options and research areas open to students majoring in astrobiology.
Florida Tech professors encourage all students seeking an astrobiology degree to become involved in activities and research projects for immediate immersion in "real science," not just text learning. Students typically join a research group early in their study at Florida Tech and get experience in hands-on, high-caliber research. You'll also have the opportunity to undertake exciting independent or collaborative (with a peer or professor) research in a topic of your choosing. As a result, you get practical experience, an enhanced job search portfolio and the perfect preparation for graduate and professional school or employment.
Beyond the classroom, astrobiology majors build leadership and professional experience through exciting internships and participation in academic organizations like Sigma Pi Sigma (national physics honor society), Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, the Student Astronomical Society, student government and over 100 other student organizations.
Employers that have recruited Florida Tech students with an astrobiology degree for internships and careers include Harris Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, DRS Optronics, Kennedy Space Center, NASA and the Space Telescopic Science Institute.
After receiving their astrobiology degree, many of our students go on to master's and doctoral programs at Florida Tech and other prestigious universities, including Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth and Yale.
Search for abiogenesis evidence or get involved in projects at the NASA Space Life Sciences Lab.
Florida Tech is home to the first and only undergraduate astrobiology university in the country, which makes it a premier place for students interested in space sciences to attend. The Florida Tech student body is very diverse, with students from over 100 different countries. The "High Tech with a Human Touch" approach means you benefit from the one-on-one attention of a small school combined with the high-tech resources of a national research and astrobiology university. Our students are also highly involved in campus life by participating in over 20 intramural sports, more than 100 student organizations and 21 varsity sports.
Faculty members at Florida Tech are top researchers in their fields and are committed to the success of our students. The advisor to the astrobiology program is a former astronaut who conducted astronomy research in two shuttle missions, perfect for an astrobiology university. Physics and space sciences professors include a TED Global Fellow and an NSF Career Award-winner.
Professors highly encourage students to get actively involved in research by joining one of the research groups in the department. Currently our faculty is involved in observing and categorizing the properties of exoplanets, and is in the process of developing a multi-spectra camera intended for use on the International Space Station. Astrobiology students involved in projects that require unique instrumentation may gain access to the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center. In addition, they are frequently admitted to the NASA Space Academy and other similar programs.
As the only undergraduate astrobiology university, students enjoy access to the Ortega 0.8-m Telescope, one of the largest research telescopes in the Southeast. Faculty and students use this telescope as their main training and research instrument, but also have easy access to the SARA 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. Additional facilities available for students at this astrobiology university include:
These facilities make Florida Tech the astrobiology university of choice.
In terms of location, Florida Tech is the perfect place for an astrobiology university. The 130-acre campus is located on the Space Coast, an area that boasts year-round subtropical weather and 72 miles of Atlantic Coast beaches. This area is also located within Florida's High Tech Corridor, which puts it in close proximity to over 5,000 technological companies and NASA Kennedy Space Center. The campus is minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon, and just a short drive from Central Florida tourist attractions.
Choose Florida Tech – a cutting edge astrobiology university.
In preparation for an astrobiology career, Florida Tech students often take part in internships with local and national companies. Some of these companies include:
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Sandia National Labs
American Institute of Physics
These internship opportunities allow our students to gather the necessary experience to put them ahead of the competition when searching for an astrobiology career.
Florida Tech also hosts the SARA Research Experience for Undergraduates program, a summer internship program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.
Florida Tech astrobiology students have the opportunity to utilize the Ortega 0.8-m Telescope, one of the largest research telescopes in the Southeast. Students observe extrasolar planets and other cosmic phenomena. Research activities involve such study as measuring the adhesion properties of dust grains to understand the important processes in the formation of plants, and the effects of cosmic radiation on the human body. Collaboration with faculty in the biology department involves the study of the effects of the space environment on long-term missions involving humans. NASA's Space Academy also frequently admits our astrobiology students to take part in exciting training and research. These types of hands-on experiences give students a real-world view of an astrobiology career.
Astrobiology students can meet friends, explore interests and hone their professional skills as members of:
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
Society of Physics Students
Sigma Pi Sigma (national physics honor society)
Student Astronomical Society
Tri Beta (national biological sciences honor society)
These clubs give students the chance to network with other people interested in space and the sciences, allowing for opportunities to make the connections that can help kick start an astrobiology career.
An astrobiology career gives you an opportunity to apply many areas of science to your job from astrophysics to biology, chemistry, astronomy, planetary science and geology. An astrobiology career could have you studying the effects of space on human and animal life, categorizing the properties of exoplanets, or collecting ice core samples in Alaska.
NASA describes an astrobiology career as an interdisciplinary field that requires a comprehensive, integrated understanding of biological, planetary and cosmic phenomena. Students who are interested in a high-tech career at space agencies, in research and development or in working for the federal government are the perfect candidates for an astrobiology career.
What would an astrobiology career or similar occupation look like? The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information about a multitude of jobs in the United States, including details about projected employment growth, median annual pay and specifics about what the job entails.
Individuals with biology and physics backgrounds will continue to be in demand in medicine, information technology, communications technology, semiconductor technology and other applied research-and-development fields. According to the Bureau employment in the aerospace industry will concentrate on national defense, raising fuel efficiency and aircraft design and production while astronomers will be needed for continued space research and innovative technologies such as scientific equipment, computer software.
Undergraduates and graduate students with a degree in Astrobiology can look forward to an astrobiology career such as:
Space Sciences Research
PayScale.com is an online salary information company providing real-time information on job market compensation. Astrobiology career data is not specifically listed, however associated science careers are listed and can provide some insight on what you might expect for your income upon graduation, as well as the earning potential you might achieve over your career.
Aerospace Engineering: $62,500 - $118,000
Physics: $51,200 - $99,100
Geology: $45,000 – $89,400
Molecular Biology: $40,100 - $84,900
Microbiology: $39,700 - $76,200
Nuclear Engineering: $66,800 - $107,000
Check PayScale.com for the most recent information on this and other careers.
The range of potential employers that could provide an astrobiology career includes many organizations that have offered internships and jobs to Florida Tech graduates such as:
Kennedy Space Center
The Space Telescopic Science Institute
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Museum of Natural History in New York City
Kitt Peak National Observatory
More than half of Florida Tech's astrobiology degree students attend graduate school. In addition to the master's and doctoral programs at Florida Tech, recent astrobiology degree graduates have been accepted to graduate programs at such prestigious institutions as:
Ohio State University
SUNY Stony Brook
University of Arizona
University of Florida
University of Texas