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Biologists study and do research on the origin, relationships, development, derivation, anatomy, functions, heredity and other basic characteristics of plant and animal life.

Biologists study all aspects of living organisms, as well as the relationships between animals and plants and their environment. They usually specialize in research or the development of specific plants, animals or aspects of biology. The nature of their work depends on the field chosen, namely:

Botany: Botanists are scientists who study the origin, development, physiology, reproduction, distribution, interdependence, classification and other aspects of plants. They can specialize in plant morphology, plant ecology, plant genetics, to name but a few.

Zoology: Zoologists study several aspects of animals, namely the origin, behaviour and processes of life. Fields of specialization include: morphology, taxonomy, genetics, zoogeographics, embryology, behavioural studies and aquaculture.

Entomology: Entomologists study all aspects connected with insects. Extensive study and research can be done in the fields of taxonomy, behaviour, insect pest control, etc.

Biochemistry: Biochemists examine the structure and functions of chemical compounds in all living organisms such as plants, animals, insects, viruses and microbes. They study aspects such as the metabolism, interrelationships between structures, etc.

All such studies help to make advancements in fields such as medicine, industry and agriculture, and can be broken down into various fields of study:

Aquatic Biologists study plants and animals that live in water
Physiologists study the life stages of plants and animals
Cytologists study plant and animal cells
Anatomists study the bodies of animals, from organs and tissues to cell structures
Mycologists look into parasitic, poisonous and edible fungi, such as mushrooms and yeast
Nematologists study nematodes, which are parasitic to plants, attack insects and transmit diseases, to find ways to control these pests
Geneticists examine hereditary factors in plants and animals

Biologists conduct their research in laboratories or outdoors in the natural habitat of the species they are studying.

Satisfying Aspects
- making new discoveries can be exciting
- advancing particular fields
- working in a relatively stress-free environment

Demanding aspects
- focusing for long periods can cause eye-strain
- standing for long periods can be physically taxing

- very observant
- deep interest in biological science
- love of nature and outdoor life
- enjoy working in a laboratory
- patient, accurate, determined and disciplined
- ability to perform highly specialized research

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory school subjects: Mathematics
Recommended school subjects: Physical Sciences, Life Sciences

Degree: A BSc degree takes 3 years' full-time or 4 years' part-time study and can be obtained at any South African university. Prospective biologists are advised to obtain postgraduate qualifications in the fields in which they wish to specialize. At some universities a four-year B.Sc. (Agric) course can be followed by those interested in the agricultural application of biology - see section on Agriculture.

Diploma: Various universities of technology offer related biological science courses. A N.Dip. can be obtained in any one of the following fields: Medical Technology, Veterinary Technology, Food Technology, Clinical Technology, Nature Conservation, Microbiology and there are several diplomas offered in Agriculture.

- such institutions as the National Botanical Institute and National Parks Board
- government departments, such as Trade and Industry and Health
- universities and tertiary institutions
- such organizations as SABS, CSIR and Onderstepoort
- game reserves and zoos
- private organizations
- high school biology teacher
- self-employment, eg. zoologists can start their own businesses by cultivating oysters, mussels, shrimps, etc. or rehabilitation centres where wounded or poisoned animals can be rehabilitated and other biologists can open their
own pollution laboratories, nurseries, pet shops, eco-tourism and environment impact centres

Further information can be obtained from the various universities and universities of technology or any of the above mentioned potential employers.