The Business of Science

Maria DiToppa, Interdisciplinary Science and Business major.

Maria DiToppa, Interdisciplinary Science and Business major.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

New Interdisciplinary Science and Business program lets students pick the perfect mix

It can be hard for college students to choose a course of study when they have yet to discover where their interests and talents may intersect.

Like many students, Maria DiToppa came to Behrend with a plan to major in Biology but then realized it might not be the right fit for her and began looking for alternatives. She was surprised to find a new Behrend program—Interdisciplinary Science and Business—that felt custom-made for her.

“I realized that ISB was meant for me,” DiToppa said. “I was attracted to the program by the integration of biology, which I am passionate about, with the business side of things, which I also enjoy.”

The more she researched the program, the field, and the job options, the more convinced she became that she had found her path.

“I am amazed at the career opportunities this degree has to offer,” she said. “The combination of science and business can open a lot of doors.”

Science-related companies don’t hire scientists only—they need business-minded employees, too, to monitor supply chains, handle sales and accounts, interpret consumer behavior, and manage marketing.

Students in the ISB major take a variety of courses, such as statistics, biology, calculus, chemistry, economics, business law and ethics, finance, management, marketing, and project management. They can further tailor their degree to their interests by choosing a specialized block of courses on both the science side (quantitative science, laboratory science, or human health) and the business side (accounting and finance, technical sales, or operations and supply chain management).

DiToppa opted for human health and technical sales specializations. She plans to work in the field of medical sales.

“I hope to develop, market, and sell medical equipment,” she said. “I want to focus on women’s health in particular, as it’s an area that desperately needs more attention in today’s society.”

A recent guest speaker from Magee-Womens Research Institute, which is partnering with Behrend in a $26 million women’s health research initiative, solidified DiToppa’s decision. Though she’s still a year from graduation, she is already putting her degree to work.

“I am a yoga instructor and I use my science knowledge, such as anatomy and physiology, for the holistic side of yoga, while I use the business knowledge to manage promotions and advertising and run my classes.”

For more information about the ISB major, visit

Where IBS Grads Might Work

  • Hospitals
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Chemical laboratories
  • Medical laboratories
  • Medical practices
  • Environmental firms
  • Consulting firms
  • Water treatment facilities
  • Municipalities