Some career opportunities in the field of biology include corporate scientists, university scientists, and specialists in selected fields. Biology scientists do not just mix chemicals in different types of glassware and perform experiments on animals.
Some scientists, such as graduate students, those in postdoctoral programs, and technicians, spend most of their time doing experiments, but they also have many other tasks, depending on what type of scientist they are.
If a scientist works for a research company, he or she has meetings to attend just like in any other corporation. Scientists rarely work alone. A corporate scientist must keep the goals of the corporation in mind and work with others to gather information relating to those goals.
After the information is gathered (through experiments and reading other studies in the field), the facts must be presented. Scientists read a lot and write often. They attend conferences to talk with other scientists in their field, and they try to develop products or services, such as a test, that their company can sell. They must keep track of financial information (science is a business, after all), and sometimes they must deal with personnel issues and manage people on their research team.
They must write proposals and try to obtain research grants or funds from other sources such as venture capitalists. And, scientists also must take care of their equipment, performing routine cleaning and maintenance, as well as sometimes making repairs.
If the scientist is employed at a university, he or she may perform experiments that are personally interesting, but many universities have research goals, just as corporations do. University scientists perform many of the functions that corporate scientists perform, but with less of an inclination toward generating profits and more of an inclination toward generating knowledge (which may then be used by or sold to big business).
In addition, university scientists must teach classes and publish papers in research journals. And they must attend meetings and conferences. Sometimes, they write or review textbooks or are hired by corporations to do research.
Sometimes, the “…ologist” is involved in the care of living things rather than just the study of living things. The nature of their work is more clinical — that is, they apply the information that is gathered rather than just focus on gathering it.
Often, these biology specialists work together:
An ecologist, who studies the way that organisms live in their environments, may work with a microbiologist to improve the quality of a river and the organisms who call it home.
An embryologist, who studies the development of organisms from conception, may work with a molecular biologist, who studies organisms at the cellular level and focuses on genetics, to try to determine the cause of a birth defect.
An entomologist, who studies insects, may work with a pathologist, who studies abnormal cells and tissues, to create a pesticide that does not pose a cancer risk.