What is a microbiologist?
A microbiologist is someone who studies the growth, development, and characteristics of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, algae, and fungi. They work in laboratories and offices, where they conduct scientific experiments and analyze the results.
What does a microbiologist do?
Microbiologists typically do the following:
- Plan and carry out complex research projects, such as the development of new drugs to combat infectious diseases.
- Supervise the work of biological technicians and other workers and evaluate the accuracy of their results.
- Isolate and maintain cultures of bacteria or other microorganisms for future study.
- Identify and classify microorganisms found in specimens collected from humans, water, food, and other sources.
- Control the effect of microorganisms on plants, animals and other microorganisms and on the environment.
- Follow up with the results of other research groups by reading research reports and attending conferences.
- Prepare technical reports, research papers, and recommendations based on your research findings.
- Present research results to scientists, non-scientific executives, engineers, other colleagues, and the public.
Most microbiologists work in research and development. Many conduct basic research with the goal of increasing scientific knowledge while others conduct applied research, using knowledge from basic research to develop new products or solve particular problems. For example, microbiologists help develop genetically modified crops, biofuels, and ways to protect the environment.
Microbiologists use computers and a wide variety of sophisticated laboratory instruments to conduct their experiments and analyze the results. For example, they use powerful electron microscopes to study bacteria and they use advanced computer software to analyze the growth of microorganisms found in samples.
An increasing number of scientific research projects involve multiple disciplines, and it is common for microbiologists to work in teams with technicians and scientists in other fields. For example, microbiologists researching new drugs can work with medical and biochemical scientists to develop new drugs such as antibiotics and vaccines. Also, microbiologists in medical diagnostic laboratories can work alongside doctors, nurses, medical laboratory technicians, and other health professionals to help prevent, treat, and cure disease.
What is the workplace of a microbiologist like?
Microbiologists often work in laboratories and offices, where they conduct experiments and analyze results. Those who work with hazardous organisms must follow strict safety procedures to avoid contamination. Most microbiologists work full time and maintain regular hours.
Basic investigators generally choose the focus of their investigation. Applied researchers who work for companies spend more time working on products that the company can sell. They are often under pressure to meet deadlines and follow grant specifications to fund their research, while they may face competition for research grants.