Do you wonder how a kitten purrs, why a leaf changes color, or what makes a person sneeze? A career in biology might satisfy your curious nature. Biology is the study of life. Biologists look for ways to help people, plants, and animals live longer, healthier lives. Because there are so many forms of life, biologists tend to focus on one form or another. Most research jobs require at least a master's degree. Whatever path you take in biology, "do not underestimate good communication skills ... and mathematics," advises Samantha Katz, director of education and outreach for the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Much of science involves communicating what you've learned to other people. "Biology is fun. Being a scientist is fun," Katz notes. "There are many ways to be a scientist:" Here are just a few.
OUTSIDE THE LAB
Genetic counselors work with families to analyze inheritable conditions and identify the risk of birth defects. They need good people skills, as they counsel individuals and families and provide information about the conditions in question. Genetic counselors also need to be good at math, as they often work with numbers to calculate odds.
Science/technical editors rely on their expertise to edit professional journals, consumer science magazines, and educational materials.
Environmental lawyers help save the planet, one court case at a time. They fight for the rights of beavers, spotted owls, redwood trees, and other endangered species.
Nurses need to be well versed in biology; they need to understand how the human body works and how medicine and environmental elements can affect the body.
Of course, science teachers are always needed, especially in high schools. "It's so important to have well-trained educators," says Katz. "That's where the next generation of scientists comes from."
Human biology is closely related to the field of medicine--all doctors must know that the knee bone is connected to the shinbone. However, some doctors spend less time with patients and more time conducting biological research. Pathologists look for the causes of and cures for diseases. Omcologists study cells that form tumors, hoping to discover ways to cure or prevent cancer. Immunologists search for ways to treat allergies and to improve our ability to resist diseases.
Industrial biologists, also known as biotechnologists, will enjoy many job opportunities in the coming years as they combine biological research and technology to make useful new products. The products include new drugs, more resilient crops, and renewable biofuels, such as methane and ethanol. Bioinformatics is a growing field that creates technology to help improve research.
Microbiologists study tiny microbes to learn their effects on other living creatures. This research helps scientists develop medicines and vaccines, improve food and ater supplies, or create consumer products such as disinfecting cleansers.
UP CLOSE WITH NATURE
Natural resources specialists manage and protect wildlife, fish, habitats, and recreation areas. Wildlife biologists examine animals in their natural habitats. They study whether a species is thriving or dying off and offer clues as to the reasons. Environmental changes that affect animals, such as global warming or pollution, can also affect people--wildlife biologists are sometimes the first to detect those changes. Park rangers keep parks safe and sound while teaching visitors all about natural wonders.
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