What does a Biological Scientist do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2019
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Biological science is a vast field that incorporates research in botany, zoology, environmental science, microbiology, ecology, and many other disciplines that deal with nature and the living world. A biological scientist usually specializes in a certain field, conducting extensive research to learn more about cells and organisms, develop medicines and vaccines, promote public health policies, or protect the environment. Professionals usually hold advanced degrees and work in private research laboratories, universities, biotechnology firms, government agencies, hospitals, or nonprofit environmental organizations.

A biological scientist might conduct laboratory research, clinical studies, field investigations, or all three in order to discover the properties of nature and organisms. Laboratory scientists typically utilize highly specialized equipment to analyze microorganisms and samples of living tissue. Professionals try to understand the structure and function of cells in order to advance scientific knowledge and develop new products and medicines. Many experts engage in genetic research, where they study the traits of DNA and intracellular structures to learn how cells reproduce, combine, and use proteins to form living creatures.

Clinical studies involving plants, animals, and humans are essential to comprehend the physical properties and behaviors of large organisms. A biological scientist might wish to investigate the physiological effects of an experimental medicine or find out why neurological problems arise in certain people. He or she typically works with a team of other researchers to design tests, analyze findings, and write scientific papers about the results.


A scientist who conducts field research may spend hours, days, or even weeks investigating an area and gathering samples for later analysis in a laboratory. Many field scientists work for government agencies and environmental protection firms, where they study ecosystems, determine pollution levels, and develop strategies to help improve conditions. Many professionals give lectures on the importance of sustainability and environmental protection, and some scientist become actively involved in cleanup efforts and awareness campaigns. It is common for a biological scientist to get involved with community development and political campaigns, in order to provide expert information regarding environmental policy.

A person who wants to become a biological scientist is usually required to obtain at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Many scientists, especially those who wish to conduct independent research, pursue master's or doctoral degrees in their specialties. Upon graduation, most biological scientists work as interns or fellows at a university or private institution to gain firsthand experience under the supervision of established professionals. Individuals who show promise in the field, conduct important research, and publish significant papers are generally awarded the opportunity to become lead researchers, designing and carrying out their own projects.


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