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					                                 Career Fact Sheets
Botany
Why Would I Want to Become a Botanist?
Botanists study the biology of plants and related botanical organisms such as algae, fungi, lichens, mosses and
ferns. Botanical science is a dynamic, evolving discipline with a crucial part to play in shaping the future of
modern society. This is because human beings are fully reliant on botanical life for their ongoing survival:

•      Flowering plants directly or indirectly supply 80% of the kilojoules consumed by humans;
•	     The	world’s	oxygen	supply	is	generated	by	photosynthetic	plants;
•	     Botanical	organisms	are	essential	for	the	recycling	of	nutrients	needed	by	all	living	organisms;
•      Plants are an important part of the appearance and well-being of the environments inhabited by
	      human	communities;

Utilisation	of	botanical	processes	also	forms	the	basis	of	many	multi-million	dollar	industries,	such	as	agricul-
ture	and	food	production,	the	manufacturing	of	industrial	compounds	(plastics,	pharmaceuticals,	and	so	on)	
and biotechnology.

The	study	of	the	biology,	chemistry,	and	ecology	of	plants	can	help	to	find	practical	solutions	to	many	of	the	
concerns	confronting	modern	communities,	such	as	global	warming,	mismanagement	of	the	environment,	
rapid	extinction	of	animal	and	plant	species,	lack	of	necessary	food	resources	to	human	populations,	and	so	
on.

Botanists	contribute	to	efforts	to	solve	these	problems	by:
•      Studying plant genes and molecules to learn more about plant biology and chemistry in order to
       provide more knowledge about the general nature of plants;
•      Developing techniques for establishing controlled growth environments which promote the breeding of
	      different	types	of	plants	or	accelerate	the	rehabilitation	of	damaged	and	diseased	plants;
•	     Investigating	particular	species	of	plants	to	determine	their	nutrition	and	metabolism	in	order	to	
	      improve	food	production,	control	plant	diseases,	eradicate	weeds	and	problem	plants,	and	provide		
       advice for the management of botanical environments;
•      Exploring the world’s ecosystems to assess the level of botanical biodiversity, discover new plant
	      species	and	develop	better	understanding	of	how	different	species	inter-relate	in	natural	and	human		
       environments.

These	and	other	activities	provide	potential	career	opportunities	and	also	help	to	further	human	
understanding	of	a	broad	range	of	organisms	whose	existence	will	continue	to	be	essential	for	the	survival	of	
humans and most other animals.
                                      Career Fact Sheets
Cont.
What Career Opportunities are Available in Botanical Science?
•         Botany graduates are equipped for employment in a wide range of areas. As a guide, here is a list of
          some of the more common career paths that are available:
•	        Administration	in	such	industries	as	agriculture,	biotechnology,	eco-tourism,	working	as	managers,		
	         project	officers	and	so	on;
•	        Consultancy	to	government	authorities,	independent	environmental	management	groups,	
	         manufacturer,	and	private	enterprise	organisations;
•	        Horticulture	:	plant	breeding	or	greenhouse/nursery	management;
•	        Marketing	scientific	equipment	or	agricultural	and	biological	products;
•	        Quality	control	in	food	production	companies	and	other	industries;
•	        Research	in	government,	university	and	private	sector	industries,	or	research	institutions	such	as	the		
          CSIRO;
•	        Teaching	in	secondary	or	tertiary	education.

Some	additional	avenues	that	you	may	want	to	consider	for	employment	include	landscape	design,	medicine,	
natural	parks	and	wildlife,	pest	control	or	scientific	writing.
Note	that	some	of	these	areas	of	employment	(research	in	particular)	may	generally	require	additional	
qualifications,	such	as	postgraduate	study	in	a	specialised	field	of	botanical	science,	or	a	degree	in	business	or	
education	.	The	majority	of	jobs	will	give	you	an	opportunity	to	work	in	the	laboratory	and	in	the	field

What are the Major Personal Requirements for Botanists?

•	        Ability	to	undertake	detailed	scientific	research	and	experimental	work;
•         An interest in plants and research;
•	        Analytical	approach	to	problem	solving;
•	        Capacity	for	making	accurate	observations	and	recordings;
•         Flexibility to work according to the demands and constraints of weather and season;
•         Freedom from allergies to chemicals or plants;
•	        Good	communication	skills;
•	        Initiative	and	perseverance;
•	        Willingness	to	work	unsupervised	in	remote	locations	and	in	the	laboratory.

     This information was extracted from resources prepared by Student Support Services at The University of Queensland, 2001.


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