Biology is the queen mother of the life sciences. The modern biological subdisciplines and hybrid disciplines, including biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, genetics and synthetic biology, are all derived from biology. By the same token, modern biology touches almost every area of human endeavor, with tens of thousands of specialist biologists employed around the country in government and private industry. A variety of government agencies, in particular, employ biologists.
Microbiologists study the structure, growth and development of microscopic organisms, including bacteria, algae, fungi and viruses. Bacteriologists study the characteristics and properties of bacteria, including potential beneficial and harmful effects bacteria have on plants, animals and humans. Clinical microbiologists research microorganisms that cause diseases or can be used to treat diseases. Federal, state and local governments all employ specialist microbiologists such as bacteriologists, virologists and clinical microbiologists as researchers, inspectors, lab technicians and in other capacities.
Wildlife biologists study wild animals and their relationships with the ecosystem. Research is the main focus of most wildlife biologists, and they conduct experiments to determine how animals interact with other species, their reproductive and feeding habits, diseases, movement patterns and their roles in the overall ecological system. Some wildlife biologists focus on conservation and land management. Relatively few wildlife biologists are employed in private industry; the large majority work in academia or for government agencies.
An entomologist is an expert in insects. Most entomologists further specialize in a particular class of insects such as butterflies or ants. Entomologists are typically employed in academia or work for local, state or federal government agencies; even the military hires entomologists. The majority of modern entomologists spend nearly all of their time in labs identifying insects brought in as samples or conducting research on pesticides, and rarely spend much time hunting for or capturing insects.
Horticulturalists and Agronomists
Horticulturalist is the general term for a scientist who studies the cultivation of plants, while an agronomist is an expert in soils and the production of food crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA, and other government agencies hire horticulturalists and agronomists and others with a background in botany in a number of capacities, especially as technicians, advisers and inspectors.