Discover your career path

Behavioral Geneticist

Find the link between genes and behavior.

What does a Behavioral Geneticist do?

Behavioral Geneticists study the relationship between human and animal characteristics (on one side), and biology (on the other). In other words, if you’re a Behavioral Geneticist, you explore the science behind certain traits (aggressive behavior, for instance) to determine what exactly causes them.

For example, you may study a pair of identical twins — Bob and Ben — for similarities and differences in traits. Bob may be extremely aggressive while Ben is extremely passive. Since they have identical DNA, you want to know why Bob is so aggressive; is it because of genetics, or because Ben was always the favored child and Bob acted out? This is known to Behavioral Geneticists as the “nature versus nurture” theory: Are people the way they are because it is genetically programmed or because of their environment?

Excellent communication and analytical skills are essential as a Behavioral Geneticist, as you’re required to work with other Biologists and researchers. Once your study is finished, you compile reports on your findings, including both written and verbal presentations. Using the data you found, you then draft research grant applications for additional project funding.

The comfortable work environment (it’s always temperature controlled) provides the perfect conditions for completing your studies. The dependable work schedule is sometimes interrupted, as you’re required to monitor experiments for significant changes — even if that means working at night or on weekends. Science, math, and English skills all come together in this position, making it a great fit for inquisitive minds with well-rounded talents.