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Study the wide world of plants.

What does a Botanist do?

Did you know there are more than 400,000 known species of plants? It’s true. And if you’re a botanist, it’s your job to study them.

A scientist who specializes in plant biology, a botanist is an expert on all varieties of vegetation including, for instance, algae, grass, cacti, flowers, moss, trees, shrubs and edibles, including herbs, fruits and vegetables.

Unlike landscapers and gardeners who arrange, grow and care for plants, botanists research them. In other words, you’re not necessarily concerned with how plants look, smell, or taste; you’re concerned with how they work. Among the things you study, for instance, are plant anatomy, including genetics, structure and chemical makeup; plant physiology, including the effects of temperature, light and humidity; plant processes, such as reproduction, respiration and photosynthesis; and plant economics, including the cultivation of plants for food, fibers and pharmaceuticals.

Although you might be a generalist, you likely have a specialty, such as a type of plant, like trees or flowers; an industry, like agriculture or medicine; an environment, like oceans or deserts; or a scientific discipline, like taxonomy or ecology.

Typically employed by universities, government agencies and museums, you spend some days traveling the world looking for new species and collecting specimens. Other days you’re inside greenhouses conducting plant-based experiments. Most days, however, you’re in labs looking at plant cells through microscopes.

Although poisons and pricks are potential hazards, they’re easily trumped by the importance of your work, which provides society with food, energy and medicine. Who knows? You might even find a cure for cancer!

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