What does a Biologist do?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Speaking broadly, as someone who has completed college or higher level training in the life sciences, a biologist is equipped to pursue a wide range of careers. This article will take a look at some of the range of vocational choices that a biologist may choose to follow.

An ornithologist (a type of biologist) holding a bird.
An ornithologist (a type of biologist) holding a bird.

In the area of agriculture, a biologist could pursue agronomy, or soil science, studying issues relating to crops, soil, and the environment. Animal science gives the biologist the ability to pursue interests in the dairy industry, horse breeding, or in veterinary medicine.

A type of biologist called a herpetologist studies amphibians, like frogs.
A type of biologist called a herpetologist studies amphibians, like frogs.

Aquatic science includes fields like limnology, the study of freshwater systems, as well as marine biology and oceanography. Fisheries biology is also related to this area, as is ichthyology, the study of fish. Marine mammal science focuses on another class of aquatic animals.

A biologist might study why marsupial mammals, like koalas, branched off from placental mammals.
A biologist might study why marsupial mammals, like koalas, branched off from placental mammals.

Outside of the water animals, we find the other areas commonly grouped under zoology. Entomology, the study of insects, falls into this category, as does, herpetology, the field that focuses on reptiles and amphibians. Mammalogy covers all mammals, aquatic, or terrestrial, and Ornithology addresses the subject of birds. Parasitology, the study of parasites, has importance in medicine, public health, and domestic animal care, as does virology, the study of viruses.

Some biologist, called entomologists, study insects.
Some biologist, called entomologists, study insects.

A biologist can teach in a high school or college, passing on knowledge and understandings to a new generation. Biologists also teach through 4-H clubs and Extensions Services, affiliated with the state universities. A biologist can also work in the education department of a museum, zoo, aquarium, conservatory, arboretum, park, or botanical garden.

Some biologists work in agronomy, studying crops, soil, and the environment.
Some biologists work in agronomy, studying crops, soil, and the environment.

Many other fields are open to a biologist as well:

  • Astrobiology is the area that explores the place of life forms in the great universe.
  • Forensic science covers the turf shared by biology and law enforcement.
  • Food science contributes to the development of new food products, as well as food safety.
  • Neurobiology offers the opportunity to study how behavior is generated by the nervous system.

These are only some of the many, many things that a biologist can do.

Biologists may focus on underwater organisms.
Biologists may focus on underwater organisms.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments

Telsyst

Good point, Glasis. Also, government, university and private grants are available to further biological and medical research.

Glasis

College students interested in going on to medical school often pursue undergraduate degrees in biology, microbiology, molecular biology or biochemistry.

Today, genetic and stem cell research and major advances in medicine have opened a whole new world of opportunities for biologists, both in laboratories and in the practice of medicine.

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