Career as a Botanist


Summary

Botanists conduct scientific research on plant life. They study plant life as it relates to agriculture, environmental policy, nutrition, medicine and the environment.

Botanists study various aspects of plants. For example, they may study their physiological processes such as photosynthesis at the molecular level, the evolutionary history and relationships of plants, or their current relationships with their environments. They may focus on the agricultural applications of plants used for food, fiber, fuel, turf, and cover crops, studying their responses to stresses from pests, disease, and climate variations. They may also work on plant breeding to development hardier strains.

Plant Ecologists study the relationships plants have with their environments, each other, and the wildlife communities to which they belong. Their work focuses on conservation of native species, reducing the invasion of non-native exotic plants, and improving the ecosystem services (like clean air and erosion protection) they provide.

Some Botanists conduct experiments to enhance the yield, disease resistance, drought resistance, or nutritional value of crops. They may also develop environmentally safe ways to control weeds, diseases, and pests. Others study plant processes at the molecular level to find new uses for them as medicines, remediation tools, raw materials, biofuels, or fabrics. Some botanists study the effects of different types of pollution on plants. They use what they learn to advise policymakers and help protect endangered species and natural areas.

The important work of botanists is critical to environmental conservation. Their research helps determine how different plants may react to climate change, and how to protect native species from invasive ones. Agricultural botanists work at the front lines of the food crisis, and help increase supplies of medicines, fibers, and timber as well.

Work Environment

Botanists work for seed companies, where they conduct research to enhance seed properties. They also work on genetic engineering or product development for biotechnology firms and pharmaceutical companies. Some work at museums, parks, and botanicals gardens. Others are employed as teachers at colleges, universities, and secondary schools. Some work primarily indoors in laboratories and offices. Others botanists, such as those who work in remediation or agriculture, spend much of their time working outside. They may work in cities, near farms, or at wilderness areas. They typically work full-time, and some travel may be necessary.

Entry Level Education

  • Bachelor’s Master’s Degree in Botany, Plant Science, Biology, or another closely related field.
  • Ph.D. in Botany.

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