Researching a new medical cure… unlocking DNA’s secrets… or developing a more resilient variety of wheat… biochemists and biophysicists study living things and the processes that make them grow, change, and die. These scientists design and conduct experiments, such as testing the effects of drugs, or learning how different cells divide and grow. They may study evolution in plants and animals, nerve cell communication, or how proteins work. Advanced technology is often used on the job, including lasers and fluorescent microscopes. Biophysicists and biochemists prepare technical reports and research papers, and may make recommendations to a research sponsor. They may also lead laboratory teams and ensure the quality of their work. Conducting scientific experiments takes accuracy and precision, as well as strong math skills, good judgment, and perseverance. The ability to communicate and work with a team is just as essential for these scientists. Biochemists and biophysicists typically work in laboratories to conduct experiments… and in offices to analyze the results. Most work full time and keep regular hours. Employers include research and development companies, higher education, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Biochemists and biophysicists need a Ph.D. to work in independent research and development positions. Some entry-level positions may be obtained with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field.
What they do:
Study the chemical composition or 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.
On the job, you would:
Share research findings by writing scientific articles or by making presentations at scientific conferences.
Teach or advise undergraduate or graduate students or supervise their research.
Study physical principles of living cells or organisms and their electrical or mechanical energy, applying methods and knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biology.
Math and Science
Arts and Humanities
Education and Training
teaching and course design
Engineering and Technology
computers and electronics
using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems
reading work related information
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
communicate by writing
read and understand what is written
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
group things in different ways
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
see hidden patterns
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
IBM SPSS Statistics
Graphics or photo imaging software
Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
post-doctoral training or doctoral degree usually needed