Discover your career path

Phycologist

Discover the many beneficial uses of algae.

What does a Phycologist do?

Did you know that the green stuff floating on the surface of lakes and oceans is alive, and not only alive but also a crucial part of our ecosystem? A Phycologist studies algae, the floaty green stuff, and all the potential that’s wrapped up in its tiny package.

There are over 40,000 different species of algae, but don’t worry, Phycologists are not expected to memorize all of them. In fact, if you’re a Phycologist, you may only deal with a few different varieties during your research, especially if you stick to one area.

Taking water samples out in the field and bringing them back to the lab to be examined under a microscope is part of your day-to-day routine. An increase or decrease in population warns you that there’s trouble in the water. Algae communities can act as a manual telling you about the environment they reside in, an open book for you to read.

Ancient cultures such as the Romans and the Chinese realized how useful algae could be, and some even used to cultivate it as food. It doesn’t appear that appetizing, and maybe it’s best kept off our plates, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t found better uses for the plant in the meantime.

Your studies help the new developments in algae-based biofuel, an environmentally friendly way to run our engines. The relationship between algae and pollution is also a hot topic you investigate. Not only does the plant population seem to fluctuate noticeably with added pollution, but certain species have also been known to break down toxins and clean the water. It’s not hard to see why you’re a diehard advocate for this little super-organism.