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Details for Biochemists and Biophysicists


Study the chemical composition and physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, growth, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, serums, hormones, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.


  • Investigate the nature, composition, and expression of genes, and research how genetic engineering can impact these processes.
  • Research the chemical effects of substances such as drugs, serums, hormones, and food on tissues and vital processes.
  • Isolate, analyze, and synthesize vitamins, hormones, allergens, minerals, and enzymes, and determine their effects on body functions.
  • Prepare reports and recommendations based upon research outcomes.
  • Research how characteristics of plants and animals are carried through successive generations.
  • Share research findings by writing scientific articles and by making presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Analyze brain functions such as learning, thinking, and memory, and the dynamics of seeing and hearing.
  • Design and perform experiments with equipment such as lasers, accelerators, and mass spectrometers.
  • Develop and test new drugs and medications intended for commercial distribution.
  • Develop methods to process, store, and use foods, drugs, and chemical compounds.
  • Develop new methods to study the mechanisms of biological processes.
  • Examine the molecular and chemical aspects of immune system functioning.
  • Study physical principles of living cells and organisms and their electrical and mechanical energy, applying methods and knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology.
  • Study the chemistry of living processes, such as cell development, breathing and digestion, and living energy changes such as growth, aging, and death.
  • Study the mutations in organisms that lead to cancer and other diseases.
  • Design and build laboratory equipment needed for special research projects.
  • Determine the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules.
  • Develop and execute tests to detect diseases, genetic disorders, or other abnormalities.
  • Investigate damage to cells and tissues caused by x-rays and nuclear particles.
  • Investigate the transmission of electrical impulses along nerves and muscles.
  • Manage laboratory teams, and monitor the quality of a team's work.
  • Research cancer treatment, using radiation and nuclear particles.
  • Research transformations of substances in cells, using atomic isotopes.
  • Study how light is absorbed in processes such as photosynthesis or vision.
  • Study spatial configurations of submicroscopic molecules such as proteins, using x-rays and electron microscopes.
  • Analyze foods to determine their nutritional values and the effects of cooking, canning, and processing on these values.
  • Prepare pharmaceutical compounds for commercial distribution.
  • Produce pharmaceutically and industrially useful proteins, using recombinant DNA technology.
  • Teach and advise undergraduate and graduate students, and supervise their research.


  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Artistic - Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
  • Training - Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
  • Experience - Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.



  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Systems Evaluation - Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.

Related Careers

  • Biological Technicians
  • Biologists
  • Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health
  • Food Science Technicians
  • Foresters
  • Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers
  • Microbiologists
  • Soil and Plant Scientists
  • Soil and Water Conservationists
Wages for this career
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