Biotechnologist

Research and Development

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Scientific or AnalyticSkill Level 5

Biotechnologists use biological organisms to create and improve products and processes in fields such as agriculture, environmental conservation and medicine. FutureGrowthModerate

They study the genetic, chemical and physical attributes of cells, tissues and organisms, and identify industrial uses for this knowledge.

The applications of biotechnology are widespread and include developing new medicines and vaccinations, cross-breeding plants and animals to encourage beneficial characteristics, and using bacteria and enzymes in areas such as food production and waste treatment.

Some biotechnologists may also work with cutting edge and potentially controversial technologies such as genetic modification and stem cell research.

Researcher
(Source: From&4Life)

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A biotechnologist needs:

  • the ability to think logically and analytically
  • good communication skills
  • a methodical approach to work
  • to understand the ethics of scientific research
  • the ability to think creatively and have good problem-solving skills.

Duties and Tasks

  • Studies the forms and structures of bodily organs and tissues by systematic observation, dissection and microscopic examination.

  • Investigates the chemical structure and function of living cells and their isolated components, organs and tissues in humans, animals, plants, and micro-organisms.

  • Examines micro-organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, yeast and their enzymes, and uses the knowledge gained to create and develop new, and improve existing, products, materials and processes.

Working conditions

Biotechnologists work in laboratories and offices, usually located in universities, research institutes or processing and/or manufacturing plants in metropolitan regions. They often work with hazardous chemicals and biological matter, which will require them to wear protective clothing. Those based in manufacturing or processing plants may also work around machinery which can be noisy and potentially dangerous. Most biotechnologists will work regular business hours, however, evening and weekend work may occasionally be required to complete experiments or compile reports.


Tools and technologies

Biotechnologists use a range of standard and highly-specialised laboratory equipment. The more standard equipment includes microscopes, filters, pumps, evaporators and centrifuges. Many of their experiments are carried out with the aid of computerised machines which are able to perform highly-complex and specialised tests in a relatively short space of time. Some chemicals may release noxious fumes and require workers to wear masks and carry out experiments in specially-designed fume cupboards.


Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a biotechnologist, you usually need to study science with a major in biotechnology or biomedical science at university, usually to postgraduate level.

Did You Know? 

Biotechnology uses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technology and products to improve lives and the planet.

Simple examples of biotechnology include food processes, such as microorganisms that make cheese, bread, yogurt and more possible. More advanced biotechnologies available include insecticides and pesticides used by farmers to increase agricultural yield, biofuels and chemicals from renewable biomass to decrease greenhouse gas emission, and biocatalysts to streamline steps in chemical manufacturing.
(Source: Darwin's Disciples)

Industry
(Source: The Medica)
 

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