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What is a Genetic Scientist?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated May 17, 2024
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A genetic scientist is a specialist in how genes work, how they can be manipulated and how they can be modified for the benefit of animals, plants and humans. She is commonly involved in genetic engineering which normally involves research in the field of microbiology and biochemistry. Applying concepts of botany and embryology are commonly part of her job. A person with this job typically spends the majority of her time in a laboratory setting. Her work and conclusions are often applied to the specific areas of animal husbandry, medicine, human physiology and agriculture.

Genetics apply to all forms of life, including plants, animals and humans. A genetic scientist may specialize in one of these areas or study the subject more generally. In either case, she normally performs experiments in the lab and in other controlled environments to determine how genes are affected by inheritance and atmospheric influences, either natural or man-made. Her job also normally includes testing genetic fusions and alterations that may create disease resistance or generally increase the longevity of living organisms.

Aside from resistance to disease, a genetic scientist may also discover important factors that affect inherited traits, such as color, shape and size of physical features in plants, animals and humans. Other factors that may be altered include levels of fertility and the rate at which these subjects age. These trials typically involve applying assorted external stimuli to subjects and analyzing the short and long-term results. These methods often include light, chemical applications or injections, heat and the introduction of natural substances atypical to particular environments.

Past victories in this scientific field are often inspirational to a genetic scientist. The effects of antibiotics and other therapeutic medicines have been enhanced by genetic engineering. A number of serious hereditary diseases can now be more readily detected due to the efforts of genetic scientists. Many females who once had no chance of bearing children can now do so through genetic advances in treating infertility.

A genetic scientist traditionally needs to have an inquisitive and patient nature to achieve success in this field. These traits enable her to take chances in the laboratory that may produce scientifically important results and not be discouraged if the process is sometimes long and tedious. Excellent attention to detail is another desirable trait for a genetic scientist.

This position normally requires a doctoral degree in biological science. A concentration in chemistry, botany, biology or zoology is common. Some positions may accept a master’s degree in one of these subjects if a doctoral degree program is in progress.

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