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What does a Biochemistry Professor do?

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  • Written By: Brad Cole
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2018
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A biochemistry professor is one of the many education professionals who can be found on college campuses throughout the world. They are paid educators that specialize in a branch of chemistry that deals with living things. While biochemistry professors share many of the responsibilities of other types of college professors, their job has unique aspects and challenges that must be taken into account.

Teaching is the first responsibility of a biochemistry professor. Like other professors, biochemistry professors are put in charge of one or more classes every school year that they are expected to oversee. These classes will most likely include biochemistry and an accompanying biochemistry lab, but may also include more in-demand ones like first-year chemistry and general chemistry labs. Most colleges expect their biochemistry professors to lecture to their classes and do demonstrations, but some research-oriented biochemistry professors will delegate a large amount of these responsibilities to their teaching assistants.

Another responsibility of a biochemistry professor is to do research. Almost every college will expect their biochemistry professors to pursue new areas of their science. These areas might include protein synthesis, the role of enzymes, gene expression, or industrial uses for biochemistry. Biochemistry professors will also need to validate their work by getting write-ups of their research published in a peer-reviewed publication.

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A biochemistry professor will probably have to secure funding for research. The college will generally provide some materials and limited access to equipment, but money is often needed to pay for additional research assistants, expensive chemicals, and new equipment. Funding primarily comes in the form of grants that must be applied for, but can also be gained through contracts, patent royalties, awards, and speaking fees.

The professor may also be pursuing his or her own higher education. In smaller or branch schools, a biochemistry professor may only have a master’s degree. In these cases, the professor might also be pursuing a doctorate while teaching classes at the college.

Advising students is another possible duty. College students are given a faculty advisor to assist with choosing classes and progressing towards their chosen degree. The biochemistry professor may be one of these advisors, and thus would be required to meet and advise assigned students at least once a year.

Another possible duty of a biochemistry professor is assisting with student research. Many chemistry students want to be involved with research during their time in college. The biochemistry professor may have the responsibility of assisting students with this goal. The professor might hire the student to work as a lab assistant, advise the student on a proposed experiment, authorize the use of college equipment, help the student find open laboratory space, or assist the student with finding employment in the lab of another professor or company.

Biochemistry professors also often have to do community outreach, recruiting, and public relations activities. Such activities can include meeting with prospective students, judging science fairs, and given speeches to interested organizations. While not research, such events are considered important and are not to be avoided by professors seeking tenure.

A biochemistry professor may also be in charge of an animal research room, since animals are sometimes used in biochemistry research. A possible duty of the professor may be to oversee the location where laboratory animals are housed, fed, experimented on, and eventually euthanized and disposed of. Animals in this location should be treated as humanely as possible, following all of the college guidelines and government regulations concerning their handling.

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