Biologist - Plant, Cellular, Medical

Biologist - Plant, Cellular, Medical

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Xander Kalna

Some of our students in the YCITYSCI Program are interested in learning about different careers that exist in the STEM field. Today’s blog post is going to explore the biologist career field in St. Louis, MO. There are several different fields of biology that are represented by the jobs in St. Louis such as: botany, cellular, microbial, and medical. See this helpful website for more information on the fields of biology! St. Louis is an area that hires many medical biologists, plant biologists, and microbiologists for a variety of industrustries including agricultural biotechnology, pharmaceutical and chemical research and production, clinical care, and research laboratories.

A plant biologist or botanist is concerned with matters of plants. See one here! These scientists study plants for a variety of purposes. Botanists and plant biologists may be studying the evolutionary history of a plant or how the plant is used by other organisms or what is the optimal environment for a particular plant and how to grow certain parts of plants better such as fruit and vegetables. In these fields, expect work to involve hands on activities with a variety of plants for several different possibilities. You could be trying to change a plants genetics to have them grow more food or resist a disease or trying to extract a new chemical from a plant to make a life saving medicine. You could be trying to find new ways to reproduce plants to protect rare species from extinction. You could be trying to find ways to use plants to help us fix environmental issues such as drought, pollution, or flooding. Day to day activities will often consist of interacting with your plants, recording and tracking data and trends, problem solving, and planning ahead. This field requires high attention to detail and detailed note keeping. To become a plant biologist or botanist, several schools offer biology or botany bachelor’s degrees (Like WashU or UMSL!) which is a great way to enter a field. Getting a biology or botany degree may require several classes in biology, plant biology, microbiology, ecology, genetics, soil science, geology, and statistics.

A cellular biologist or microbiologist is concerned with studying the cells  and other microscopic organisms that make up life. See some here! Cellular biologists study how cells function, the systems and structures they make, and their interactions with other living organisms usually for the medical or biotechnical fields dealing with diseases, experimental drugs, or microbial chemical production. Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. As either, you may be conducting experiments to combat diseases like COVID-19 or cancer. You could be working on ways to aid patients receiving organs or other major medical operations. You might be working in a lab trying to find a way to have a bacteria or fungus grow a new drug for us like we do with insulin. Day to day activities will include interacting with your experiments (think little plates of gelatin or tubes of broth growing microorganisms), recording data, tracking trends, practicing good lab practices, researching new processes or chemicals, and problem solving. This field requires high attention to detail and detailed note keeping. To become a microbiologist or cellular biologist, several schools offer bachelor’s degrees in biology. Getting a degree in biology may require several classes in cellular and molecular biology, virology, bacteriology, genetics, microbial physiology, and biochemistry. 

A medical or clinical biologist is concerned with conducting research on improving human health or conducting tests on biological samples from patients to make decisions regarding patient health. See some here! These biologists have a wide variety of tasks such as gathering and preparing biological samples (blood, food, bacteria cultures, tissue, and urine), analyzing samples and identifying abnormal results, operating sophisticated lab equipment, and designing and conducting studies or experiments. You may be drawing blood from a patient for a simple, normal blood test, or taking various samples to see if an experimental procedure is working. You could be finding new ways to deal with infections or diseases, you might be testing new drugs. Day to day activities include cleaning and stocking the lab, performing routine tasks and tests, reporting data, and analyzing trends. To get started in this field, a bachelor’s degree in biology is a great way to start a career. Some classes you might take for this field include: microbiology, cellular biology, clinical labs, pathology, and medical law and ethics. 


References and Additional Resources

National University, What can you do with a bachelor’s in biology?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, What is a Botanist?, What is a Plant Biologist?

Photo Credits

Featured image: Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Greenhouse image: Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

Microscope image: Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

Liquid samples image: Photo by Chokniti Khongchum from Pexels