Plant biologists work in teams in academic, industry, and government labs to develop fundamental knowledge about plants. These discoveries, which involve biology, physiology, genetics, chemistry, biophysics, environmental science, and an increasing deployment of high throughput and big data approaches, underpin and propel sustainable commercial applications in food, fuel, fiber, and medicine.
What responsibilities will I have?
- Conduct research and experiments to understand the growth, development, and physiology of plants –whether crop species or experimental models
- Study the ways in which plants interact with their environments and the other organisms in them
- Develop novel technologies and approaches that may be applied commercially or in the public sphere
- Teach plant science and related fields
- Communicate research findings to the scientific community through journal articles and scientific conferences in cities around the world
- Engage the public to raise interest and understanding of plant biology research and its contributions to providing food, fuel, and medicine
- Utilize big data to derive knowledge and understanding
What education and training is required?
You can begin with a bachelor’s degree in Plant Science, Botany, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Genetics or other related fields. For career advancement, plant biologists may earn a master’s degree specializing in areas such as plant breeding, computational biology, or high-throughput data capture. Many plant biologists chose to pursue post-graduate training to the PhD level and beyond. With a PhD degree, plant scientists have a broad range of exciting professional opportunities in academic, industry, and government settings, well-paying positions in which plant biologists make important contributions toward solving some of the most challenging problems we face.
To pursue a career as a Plant Biologist:
The following high school courses are recommended: physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, computer applications, calculus, algebra, statistics.
Established agricultural biotechnology companies, seed companies, start-up companies, universities, community colleges, government research labs, federal agencies, non-profit organizations, botanical gardens, and publishers.
Future Job Market/Outlook:
The number of jobs in this field has grown by over 20% since 2005; an additional growth rate of 7% from 2015 to 2019, not accounting for retirements.
Suggested Professional Organizations, Associations, and Resources: