“We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself,” declared Carl Sagan in his iconic series “Cosmos.” It is a scientific statement that is both poetic and profound. It is a statement that has elevated our understanding of the universe and ourselves.
It is also a statement that he couldn’t have made without the groundbreaking research of the English-American astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. I
Dr Cecilia,in her Harvard doctoral thesis discovered that we have something in common with the cosmos – both are made from the same stuff.
More recently in 2020, Dr Kathrin Jansen led her team of researchers at Pfizer to show that their company’s COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective in people. Her team managed that feat in just 210 days, eventually inoculating the world’s population against the deadly virus.
These examples demonstrate what being a research scientist entails. They are responsible for the conceptualisation, execution, and analysis of scientific investigations to advance knowledge in a particular field. This process involves the formulation of hypotheses, the collection of relevant data, and the interpretation of results. Their work impacts and elevates various aspects of human life, including public policy and personal decision-making in energy, conservation, agriculture, health, transportation, communication, defence, economics, leisure, and exploration.
Types of Research Scientists
Here is a comprehensive summary of five types of research scientists and their job roles for you to explore :
1. Biological Research Scientist
Lead a highly skilled laboratory team to conduct cutting-edge experiments on various life forms, including plants, animals, bacteria, and other microbes, to improve human health and quality of life.
Conduct thorough research on the effects of drugs, hormones, and other substances on a wide range of biological processes, using advanced techniques and equipment.
Ensure compliance with all relevant safety and environmental regulations, including those related to experimentation on living organisms and the discharge of genetically modified organisms.
Use advanced data analysis tools to collect and interpret research data, ensuring the precision and accuracy of results.
Collaborate with other researchers and experts in the field to expand the scope of research, share knowledge and resources, and increase the potential for discoveries.
Communicate scientific findings through publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at conferences, seminars, and other scientific events.
Continuously stay updated on the latest developments in the field by attending relevant conferences, workshops and seminars.
2. Agricultural and Food Scientists
Conduct research and experiments to improve the yield, quality, and sustainability of field crops and farm animals through advanced technologies and precision agriculture techniques.
Develop new food products and improve existing ones through innovative processing, packaging, and delivery methods, while ensuring compliance with food safety regulations.
Study the chemical, physical, and biological properties of soil and its impact on plant growth and nutrient uptake, and devise strategies for soil management and conservation.
Communicate research findings and technical expertise to the scientific community, food producers, policymakers, and the general public through publications, presentations, and workshops.
Act as a liaison between research institutions, farmers, and industry partners to facilitate the implementation of new projects and technologies in the field.
Continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of new methods, and make adjustments as needed to optimise results.
Utilize a combination of experimentation, mathematical modelling, and theory to study the structure and properties of matter, energy transformations and propagation, and the interactions of particles with various forms of energy.
Utilize various techniques, including surveys, seismology, and data analysis, to understand the composition and structure of the Earth’s mantle, crust, and rocks, and to predict seismic activity.
Collate and analyse data on atmospheric conditions from various sources, such as weather stations, satellites, and observation vessels, to predict weather patterns.
Apply mathematical models and techniques to solve scientific problems in various industries and commercial settings and actively seek out new applications for mathematical analysis.
4. Biomedical Scientist
Primary Duties :
Utilize cutting-edge technologies and techniques, such as genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics, to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms of disease.
Develop new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for the early detection and treatment of diseases.
Collaborate with clinicians and healthcare professionals to translate research findings into practical applications for patient care.
Investigate the environmental and lifestyle factors that contribute to the development of diseases and design interventions to prevent or reduce the risk of illness
Stay up-to-date with the latest advances in the field by regularly reading scientific literature, attending conferences, and participating in professional development opportunities.
Continuously evaluate and improve research methods and protocols to ensure the highest level of scientific rigour and reproducibility.
Contribute to the education and training of the next generation of scientists, by mentoring students and postdoctoral fellows in the laboratory.
5. Research Mathematician
Primary Duties :
Engage in original research to expand knowledge in mathematical areas, such as algebra or geometry, by creating new theorems, principles, and concepts.
Utilize mathematical equations and models to validate or refute hypotheses.
Implement mathematical theories and techniques to address practical challenges in business, engineering, and the sciences.
Create mathematical or statistical models to scrutinise data, interpret the results, and communicate conclusions.
Leverage data analysis to inform and enhance strategic decision-making.
Keep abreast of current developments in the field by reviewing professional literature, consulting with peers, and participating in professional conferences.
“The feeling that there is always more than he can find, that he is only pulling shreds out of an unfathomable continuum, forms part of my definition of a scientist.”
In other words, if you are driven by innate curiosity and an insatiable hunger to solve pressing world problems, a career as a research scientist might be the one for you.
The actual steps to becoming a research scientist will vary depending on the field of research and the institution you are interested in working for. However, here is an introductory course of action to follow:
Obtain a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering.
Complete a master’s degree in a specialised field of research.
Gain practical experience through internships, research assistantships, or other opportunities in your field.
Consider obtaining relevant certifications, such as those offered by professional societies, to demonstrate your expertise.
Consider pursuing a doctorate, which will provide you with advanced knowledge and skills, as well as opportunities to conduct independent research.
Network and attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in your field.
Find a job opportunity or research funding to conduct research and publish your findings.
Continuously seek to improve your skills, knowledge, and professional development in your field and publish your research findings regularly in reputable journals to establish your expertise.
How Can Atria University Help?
If you want to kickstart your career as a researcher, take a look at the range of interdisciplinary majors designed by our international faculty: