Microbiologist Job Description
A microbiologist is scientist who studies microscopic organisms and how they interact with their environment. Microbiologists study the structure, function, chemistry, evolution and ecology of microbes to find ways of applying them to benefit mankind in areas such as agriculture, food production and medicine.
A microbiologist should be curious, analytical, methodical, patient, persistent and safety-conscious, and have the ability to handle and operate scientific equipment. They should also be able to communicate effectively and work well independently and in a team.
Famous microbiologist include Anton Van Leeuwenhoek ( early description of protozoa, fungi, and bacteria), Louis Pasteur (germ theory), Robert Koch (Koch’s postulate), Ferdinand J Cohn (classification of bacteria), Paul Ehrlich (cure for syphilis), Alexander Fleming (penicillin), and Francis Peyton Rous (first experimental prove of virus causing cancer).
Pursue a career in microbiology if you have aptitude for science and interest in microorganisms and their effects. You should be someone who enjoys doing laboratory experiments and working with a microscope.
What does a Microbiologist do?
Microbiologists may do some or all of the following:
- perform research and experiments
- study microorganisms to identify their features, function and uses
- study microorganisms growth, development, and reproduction
- study microorganisms and observe their reactions to chemical and other kinds of stimuli
- study the distribution of microorganisms in nature
- use scientific equipment such as microscopes, centrifuges and computers
- develop useful applications of microorganisms to benefit mankind
- write research articles and reports
- teach at colleges and universities
Where does a Microbiologist work?
Places of work for microbiologists include:
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Biotechnology companies
- Environmental consulting firms
- Agricultural companies
- Brewery companies
- Resource based companies, such as oil, gas, mining and forestry
- Publishing houses
- Food production research and development organizations
- Research institutes
- Colleges and universities
- Government agencies
Microbiologists usually work normal office hours, but may sometimes work evenings and weekends during extensive experiments. They usually work indoors in laboratories, classrooms and offices. Microbiologists must be very safety-conscious to handle harmful microorganisms and keep them from reproducing uncontrollable.
What is Required to Become a Microbiologist?
To become a microbiologist, you will need a master’s degree in microbiology or a related discipline. A PhD is required for administrative positions and to conduct independent research.
Secondary school students interested in studying microbiology should take preparatory subjects such as English, biology, 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:
- Organic chemistry
- Physical chemistry
- Analytical chemistry
- Microbial genetics and Physiology
- Microbial ecology
- Pathogenic bacteriology
A microbiologist may specialize to become any of the following:
- Bacteriologist - a scientist who studies bacteria
- Biotechnologist – a scientist who applies biological organisms to create products or to solve industrial or environmental problems
- Parasitologist – a scientist who studies parasitic organisms
- Virologist – a scientist who studies viruses
- Immunologist - a scientist who specializes in the field of immunology
- Mycologist – a scientist who studies fungi
- Protozoologist – a scientist who studies protozoa
- Phycologist - a scientist who studies algae
- Nematologist - a scientist who studies nematodes
Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Microbiologists 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 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 microscopic organisms and their effects
- knowledge of biotechnology
- knowledge of laboratory hazards and safety procedures
- knowledge of science policy
Should I be a Microbiologist?
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