Introduction to Biology
In its broadest sense, biology is the study of living organisms and their relationship to the environment. It is a natural science that traces its roots to the study of all phenomena of life as a whole. The history of biology begins with the careful observation of the external aspects of organisms and proceeds with investigations into the functions and interrelationships of living things. Biology is a staggeringly diverse and dynamic field that explore all aspects of life at all levels, from how organisms are structured, to how they evolve, to how their life processes function and finally, to how they interact with the biosphere. It includes the study of the estimated 30 million species currently living on the earth as well as the millions of other species that have gone extinct. The foundation of biology as it exists today is based on five great theories. They are the cell theory, gene theory, evolution, homeostasis, and laws of thermodynamics.
Biology and the Environment
It is now widely recognized by governments worldwide that biology will be one of the core scientific disciplines of the next millennium. The work of biologists has increased our understanding about the natural world in which we live and contributes for the betterment of mankind by addressing issues involving personal well being and worldwide concern, such as environmental depletion, threats to human health, and maintaining viable and abundant food supplies. For example, biology is used to produce the best crops with the most efficient resources and also reduce costs for growth of crops. The environmentalists study how the actions of humans affect the ecosystems and how we can make changes in order to reduce or stop the destructive effects.
Discovery of DNA and Its Implications
One of the pivotal events in modern biology was the elucidation of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) by Watson and Crick. This discovery in turn led to rapid and exciting advances in molecular genetics (also known as recombinant DNA technology). The sequence of DNA bases determines much of our innate capabilities and predispositions to certain forms of behavior and illnesses as well as playing major roles in solving criminal cases. Discoveries in genetics and molecular biology have led to a better comprehension about hereditary diseases and enabled the development of new and appropriate pharmaceutical solutions for treating either symptoms or the prevention of diseases. More directly, biology underpins our understanding of viruses and pathogens and helps us prepare, for example, for global pandemics such as H1N1 and bird flu.
Branches of Biology
Biology is a vast field and hence is classified into various branches depending on the study of the organisms. Among the numerous fields in biology are agriculture, the study of developing crops that can be used for practical applications:
- microbiology – the study of microscopic organisms like bacteria
- cytology – the study of cells; genetics, the study of heredity
- biochemistry – the study of the chemical structures in living things
- morphology – the study of the anatomy of plants and animals
- taxonomy – the identification, naming, and classification of organisms
- bioengineering – the study of biology while using engineering in the background
- biotechnology – the study of the manipulation of living matter
- physiology – the study of how organic systems function and respond to stimulation.
A Career in Biology
Biology is a 4-year degree. Courses in biology will vary from university to university and in levels of difficulty. Individuals with a degree in biology, valuable knowledge on the subject and experience in the field will find it easy to bag a job.
Given that biology impacts on almost every aspect of our lives the range of jobs available is enormous and growing. Biologists are employed in various sectors such as agriculture, aquaculture, biotechnology, education, environmental health, ecology, healthcare, wildlife conservation, bioremediation, the food industry, sports science, management, regulatory affairs, patent documentation and the media. Presently, amongst the most popular career fields are those related to biotechnology and health care. Here is a list of potential jobs in biology:
- Animal Biologist
- Biomedical Technician
- Cell Biologist
- Developmental Biologist
- Research associate
- Marine Biologist
- Forensic Scientist
- Scientific Lab Director
- Veterinary Surgeon
- Vision Scientist
- Wildlife Biologist
- Biology Teacher
- Science Writer
Data from a 2005 US Bureau of Labor Statistics report show that the field of life sciences as a whole has a mean annual salary close to $60,000. Biologists with less than two years of experience earned an annual average salary of $40,914 to $49,963 in 2008, according to Salary.com, www.salary.com. Those with over 30 years of experience have a median salary of around $103,000.
Traits and Skills of a Successful Biologist
Inquisitive, A strong interest in sciences and mathematics, Good written and verbal communication skills, Good problem-solving skill, Able to work independently, Work well with others.
If you have the desire and interest to answer the questions about life, then the field of biology is the career path you should opt and embark on.