Botanist Job Description
A botanist is a scientist who studies the genetics, structure, function, habitation, ecology, adaptation and evolution of plants. Botanists study different types of plants including algae, fungi, lichen, ferns, and mosses to understand and explain their structures and functions, and their interactions with us, and to find out information useful for producing food, fiber and medicine for a growing human population.
A botanist should be curious, analytical, methodical, patient and persistent, and have the ability to handle and operate scientific equipment. They should be able to work outdoors in the field, collecting samples or performing field trials, and indoors in a laboratory, performing experiments with plants species.
Famous botanists include Theophrastus (ancient Greek scientist who is considered as the father of botany), Robert Hooke (discovered cells in living plant tissue), Charles Darwin (evolution by natural selection), Richard spruce (Amazon flora), Luther Burbank (pioneer in agricultural science), and Barbara McClintock (genetic structure of maize).
Pursue a career in botany if you have aptitude for science and interest in the scientific study of plant. You should be someone who is interested in working with microscopes.
What does a Botanist do?
Botanists may do some or all of the following:
- perform tests and experiments on plants
- use scientific equipment such as microscopes
- study plant ecology, physiology, anatomy, development and diseases
- conduct environmental studies
- study the effects of pollution on plants
- develop new type of plants or improve existing plants
- identify and classify new plant species
- write research articles and reports
- teach at colleges and universities
Where does a Botanist work?
Places of work for botanists include:
- Biological supply companies
- Petrochemical companies
- Biotechnology firms
- Botanical gardens
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Government agencies
- Academic institutions
- Germplasm resource laboratories
Botanists may work normal office hours or flexible hours including evenings and weekends. They work indoors in laboratories, classrooms, and offices and outdoors in the field collecting samples or performing field trials. Botanist may travel for field work to explore and study plants.
What is Required to Become a Botanist ?
To become a botanist, you will need a master’s degree in botany or a related discipline. A PhD is required for administrative positions and to conduct independent research.
Secondary school students interested in studying botany should take preparatory subjects such as English, biology, geography, agricultural science, physics, chemistry, algebra, calculus and statistics.
Just to give you an idea, some of the classes that you’ll be taking in college may include:
- General Biology
- Plant physiology
- Plant morphology and evolution
- Plant growth and development
- Molecular and cellular biology of plants
- Plant ecology
- Plant virus – vector interaction
- Plant biochemistry
A botanist may specialize to become any of the following:
- Biochemist – a scientist who studies the chemical aspect of plant life processes
- Paleobotanist – a scientist who studies the biology and evolution of fossil plants
- Plant ecologist – a scientist who studies the relationship between plants and their environment
- Molecular biologist – a scientist who studies the structures and functions of biological macromolecules
- Morphologist – a scientist who studies the structure of organisms
- Bryologist – a scientist who studies mosses and similar plants
- Lichenologist – a scientist who studies lichens, a dual organism composed of both a fungus and an alga
- Mycologist – a scientist who studies fungi
- Microbiologist – a scientist who studies microorganisms
- Pteridologist – a scientist who studies ferns and similar plants
- Phycologist – a scientist who studies algae
- Agronomist – a scientist who studies soils and plants
- Biotechnologist – a scientist who uses biological organisms to produce useful products
- Horticulturist – a scientist who studies and cultivates flowers, fruits, and vegetable
- Plant pathologist – a scientist who studies plant diseases
Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Botanists need to have:
- manual dexterity
- accuracy and precision
- creativity and innovation
- good eyesight
- good memory
- good hand-eye coordination
- good attention to detail
- good listening and communication skills
- analytical and problem solving skills
- time-management and organizational skills
- observational skills
- math and computer skills
- the ability to conduct field and laboratory research
- the ability to work well independently and in a team
- the ability to work well under pressure and concentrate for long periods
- the ability to use scientific knowledge to solve problems
- knowledge of chemistry
- knowledge of science policy
- knowledge of soil and fertility
- knowledge of pest and pesticides
- knowledge of plant ecology
- knowledge of plant anatomy
- knowledge of plant growth and development
- knowledge of greenhouse management
Should I be a Botanist ?
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