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Biology Specimen Technician

Prepare plant and animal specimens for use in biology research.

What does a Biology Specimen Technician do?

When students are learning how plants and animals work, they can consult drawings in textbooks to get a basic understanding. But examining something in 3D, and even being able to take things apart to look at them, can help students come to a much deeper understanding. Biology Specimen Technicians prepare those models.

For Biology Specimen Technicians, animals may take up much of their workday, as they prepare specimens in several ways. For example, as a Biology Specimen Technician, you may strip the muscles off of an animal to expose the skeletal system, and then you coat that skeleton with preservatives so it won’t disintegrate. Or, by using a plastic bath, you may preserve an entire part of an animal, such as a brain or a kidney. You may also prepare small slides of tissues, staining those tissues so the cells really stand out, and then preserving the slides so they don’t grow molds or fungi.

Sometimes, you dehydrate certain parts of an animal so students can take those items apart in dissection experiments. You may spend a lot of time apologizing to the animal carcasses as you take them apart.

Plants may also play a role in your workday, although your work here may be a bit less gruesome. Once more, you may stain plant material to make the cells stand out, and preserve those slides so they don’t rot. You may also grow plants from seeds, and immerse the seeds in plastic when they reach a certain stage of germination. This can help students see how plants grow and change.