The field of Microbiology covers many others such as Bacteriology, Virology, Mycology and Parasitology and medical microbiologists identify the agents of infectious diseases & devise ways to combat them. They also track down and identify new pathogens. Learn more about making a career in Microbiology:
Public health microbiologists try and control the spread of diseases by monitoring water and food supplies. Agricultural microbiology is focused on the health of crops, increasing yield and soil fertility. Microbial ecologists study the habitats of microorganisms to determine their contribution to the chemical cycles in soil and water; they also study the effects of pollution on the same, and develop methods to use microorganisms to combat pollution. Food and dairy microbiology prevents microbial spoilage of consumables, fights food borne transmission of diseases, and also makes food like cheese, yoghurt and wine.
Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. They try to understand how these organisms live, grow, and interact with their environments.
Microbiologists typically do the following:
Many microbiologists work in research and development conducting basic research or applied research. The aim of basic research is to increase scientific knowledge. An example is growing strains of bacteria in various conditions to learn how they react to those conditions. Other microbiologists conduct applied research and develop new products to solve particular problems. For example, microbiologists may aid in the development of genetically engineered crops, better biofuels, or new vaccines.
Microbiologists use computers and a wide variety of sophisticated laboratory instruments to do their experiments. Electron microscopes are used to study bacteria, and advanced computer software is used to analyze the growth of microorganisms found in samples.
It is increasingly common for microbiologists to work on teams with technicians and scientists in other fields, because many scientific research projects involve multiple disciplines. Microbiologists may work with medical scientists or molecular biologists while researching new drugs, or they may work in medical diagnostic laboratories alongside physicians andnurses to help prevent, treat, and cure diseases.
The following are examples of types of microbiologists:
Bacteriologists study the growth, development, and other properties of bacteria, including the positive and negative effects that bacteria have on plants, animals, and humans.
Clinical microbiologists perform a wide range of clinical laboratory tests on specimens collected from plants, humans, and animals to aid in detection of disease. Clinical and medical microbiologists whose work involves directly researching human health may be classified as medical scientists.
Environmental microbiologists study how microorganisms interact with the environment and each other. They may study the use of microbes to clean up areas contaminated by heavy metals or study how microbes could aid crop growth.
Industrial microbiologists study and solve problems related to industrial production processes. They may examine microbial growth found in the pipes of a chemical factory, monitor the impact industrial waste has on the local ecosystem, or oversee the microbial activities used in cheese production to ensure quality.
Mycologists study the properties of fungi such as yeast and mold. They also study the ways fungi can be used to benefit society (for example, in food or the environment) and the risks fungi may pose.
Parasitologists study the life cycle of parasites, the parasite-host relationship, and how parasites adapt to different environments. They may investigate the outbreak and control of parasitic diseases such as malaria.
Public health microbiologists examine specimens to track, control, and prevent communicable diseases and other health hazards. They typically provide laboratory services for local health departments and community health programs.
Virologists study the structure, development, and other properties of viruses and any effects viruses have on infected organisms.
Those who complete a Ph.D. and/or Post-Doctoral studies after getting scholarships through GRE or TOEFL may find microbiology jobs at foreign universities or Research and Development (R&D) wings of major pharmaceutical companies. Research opportunities in urban disease control, formulation research, clinical research, analytical development and new drug development are exploding too, with major companies investing in R&D. One can always teach, though it’s advantageous to have a doctorate for such a path. Self-employed microbiologists can set up their own laboratories.
Microbiologists hold about 23,200 jobs. The largest employers of microbiologists are as follows:
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||26%|
|Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing||16|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||12|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||11|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||6|
Microbiologists typically work in laboratories, offices, and industrial settings where they conduct experiments and analyze the results. Microbiologists who work with dangerous organisms must follow strict safety procedures to avoid contamination. Some microbiologists may conduct onsite visits or collect samples from the environment or worksites, and, as a result, may travel occasionally and spend some time outside.
Basic researchers who work in academia usually choose the focus of their research and run their own laboratories. Applied researchers who work for companies study the products that the company will sell or suggest modifications to the production process so that the company can become more efficient. Basic researchers often need to fund their research by winning grants. These grants often put pressure on researchers to meet deadlines and other specifications. Research grants are generally awarded through a competitive selection process.
Most microbiologists work full time and keep regular hours.
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