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Botany is the biological study of all plant, fungi, and algae life. Botanists work both in nature, collecting samples and studying ecology, and in laboratories, conducting research on plant tissues and processes. Since botany incorporates such a vast branch of life science, there are dozens of different types of botany jobs available.
Botanists often specialize in plant anatomy, physiology, or genetics. Anatomists study the internal and external structure of plants. They often focus on the cellular structure of plants, pollens, and spores. Plant physiologists study the various functions of plants, such as photosynthesis, growth, and reproduction. Both plant anatomists and physiologists are skilled at detecting diseases and maladaptive conditions in plants.
Plant geneticists study heredity and genetic coding in plants. They analyze plant tissue at a cellular level, isolating and manipulating strands of DNA. Some plant geneticists genetically modify certain plants and crops to make them more resistant to pests, viruses, and bacteria. The large scale implementation of genetically strengthened crops helps to reduce the use of dangerous pesticides while increasing crop yields.
Many botany jobs involve conservation efforts. Conservation botanists are experts in plant ecology and work to prevent the negative impacts of pollution, deforestation, and other destructive human activities. Many conservation botanists conduct extensive field research about native plant habitats and work to protect them. Botanists often engage with the public to raise awareness and funding for conservation efforts.
There are several other botany jobs which involve high degrees of specialization. Bryologists, for example, focus solely on mosses, mycologists study fungi, and phycologists investigate algae. Paleobotanists collect and analyze plant fossils to better understand ancient ecology, and ethnobotanists study the relationships, both positive and negative, between humans and plants.
Employment in most botany jobs entails receiving either a master's or doctoral degree. Beginning botanists typically perform postgraduate or postdoctoral work in a botany lab for at least one year before conducting independent research. Depending on their specialties, most botanists are employed by governments, research universities, biotechnology institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and botanical gardens. Many botanists choose to become college professors and scientific writers.
There is an increasing need to fill botany jobs in environmental protection agencies and biotechnology companies to further the development of alternative fuel sources. Botanists play an important role in the study and development of biofuels, such as ethanol, methanol, and biodiesel. They are vital consultants on the appropriate types and amounts of plant matter to be used in the production of effective, environmentally friendly fuels.
If you want a science job of any kind you need to be prepared to do a lot of repetitive work. It can be very exciting, but most of the time it is performing a small action, over and over with slight changes each time in order to test a theory.
An ecology job would be better than most as it will probably require you to work outside some of the time, when you are gathering samples and so forth.
But it will still require a lot of testing and re-testing after you've finished walking through the woods.
I don't mean to turn anyone off, as this is very valuable work.
But, be prepared for the reality of it if you plan spend time and money on a science degree.
Botanists might also end up doing a lot to combat climate change, as growing algae is one of the easiest and quickest ways to capture carbon out of the air. They might even be able to pull carbon out of industrial pollution using algae which could then be used to make biofuel.
Most plants capture carbon, and could possibly be genetically engineered to do even more. It's an exciting time to have a job in botany.
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