BioScience Research Areas
- Animal Biotechnology
- Food Science
- Forensic Science
Selecting a bioscience specialty can be challenging for students who are passionate about multiple areas of scientific research. Fortunately, many scientists get to use a combination of biology, chemistry, physics and math in their daily jobs. Here are five interdisciplinary fields ideal for graduate students interested in pursuing a career in bioscience research:
Resource: 50 Best Graduate Research Institutes
Animal biotechnologists strive to improve agricultural products by modifying animals and microorganisms through transgenetics, gene knock out technology and cloning. Genetic modification of farm animals has led to more rapid growth and an overall increase in lean muscle mass as well as greater resistance to diseases. Some transgenic animals even produce proteins that can be harvested to make human pharmaceuticals. Current animal biotechnology research is also concerned with finding ways to lessen the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
Biological physics combines the principles and methods of physics, chemistry, mathematical analysis and computer modeling to explain how biological systems function at the molecular level. Biophysics emerged as a major subject of study following the Second World War when scientists began examining the impact of nuclear radiation on living organisms. The best-known achievement in the area of biophysics occurred when James Watson and Francis Crick identified the physical patterns of molecules that make up DNA using X-ray crystallography. Biophysicists work with sensitive instruments to monitor and manipulate molecules individually and in groups.
The systematic study of cooking and eating forms the cornerstone of food science. Food scientists use a blend of biology, chemistry, nutrition and engineering to determine the best methods for processing, packaging, preserving and distributing food products around the world. They also find ways to make foods more tasty, nutritious, affordable and safe to consume. Subdisciplines within food science include sensory analysis, or the study of how people perceive food, and nutraceutical science, or the study of foods for health benefits.
Forensic scientists use their expertise to assist the police, attorneys and other authorities in the criminal justice system. Most people associate this field with medical examiners who analyze evidence from violent crimes like rape and murder, but forensic scientists are useful for solving all types of cases. For example, they sometimes investigate white collar crimes involving forgeries, and they can test products like foods and medications to make sure their contents are compliant with government regulations. Forensic scientists must work with a wide variety of tools ranging from electron microscopes to data banks.
Immunologists study the cells and organs that make up the immune system in hope of finding new ways to fight illnesses. They develop vaccines and investigate how to control allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases like AIDS. Developments in clinical immunology have led to higher success rates for organ transplants and the creation of new cancer treatments. Other subdisciplines include immunogenetics and molecular immunology.
Picking one area of bioscience research doesn't mean swearing off all other sciences. In fact, most graduate programs will require students to apply principles and methods from multiple disciplines. Prospective students can learn about all of the other areas of bioscience at AboutBioScience.org.