Among the specialties that biology includes are human biology, Other animals (zoology), plants (botany), microbiology, biotechnology, genetics, immunology and biomedical science.
Some biologists work in the laboratory, but, depending on the area in which they work, they may also spend time outside the laboratory, doing field work to take samples or conduct follow-up experiments.
In the laboratory, biologists design and carry out experiments, perform calculations and observe changes, record the results (often using statistical software packages), and analyze and display the results using a variety of tables, graphs, diagrams, and reports (making use of again from computer software).
Biologists employ many different techniques and technologies in their work, ranging from making observations with the naked eye to studying microorganisms using electron microscopes, and from designing complex individual experiments to analyzing thousands of samples very quickly using automated analysis equipment.
Biologists carry out both basic or pure and applied research. Basic research, which usually takes place in universities, is the development of knowledge. Applied research is investigating how biology can solve problems, such as finding a new drug to treat a disease, improve farmland, control pollution, and protect endangered species.
Biological research is at the root of many of the issues that affect society today, such as GM crops, using genes to alleviate ailments and understanding how to control infections.
Research and development biologists work in universities, research centers, and in industry, especially in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and agrochemical companies.
Testing over a long period of time is an important part of research and development work. For example, it takes an average of twelve years to develop a new drug, from applying for the patent until the drug is available in pharmacies.
Although biologists spend a lot of time working alone both in the laboratory and in field work, their work will probably lead them to come into contact with other types of scientists (chemists and physicists) and with biologists who are specialized in areas of knowledge other than yours (such as zoologists, ecologists, botanists, and biotechnologists).
Biologists often lead teams of technicians, who are responsible for the day-to-day running of the laboratory.
Apart from research and development, there are biologists who work as teachers, researchers or lecturing at universities and teaching in schools and institutes.
Biologists also work in communication sciences, as demonstrators in science centers, museums, and nature interpretation centers, and in the media, as journalists for science magazines and newspapers.