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Microbiologists work in laboratories studying all types of microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and algae. Their job is to look at how microorganisms affect humans, and how they can be manipulated and genetically modified to be used to our benefit. It is an essential branch of healthcare science and is often closely linked with immunology and pathology. Microbiologists also work to develop new products, processes and techniques.
Microbiologists work in the research and development areas of various industries, including:
Whilst microbiologists can work for a number of different companies, they will most often work in a laboratory setting, monitoring, identifying and testing different microorganisms. They may identify a new way that a microorganism can be developed to create medicines, vaccines, hormones, treatments and other products.
A clinical microbiologist working in healthcare might work to prevent the spread of infection, and to identify diseases and their properties. Clinical microbiologists may also work in one or more of the following areas:
In food production, agriculture and environmental research, microbiologists might develop enzymes for use in different areas of production, monitoring the safety of the products. In environmental research, microbiologists will look to use microorganisms for controlling pollution, and toxic waste products.
Microbiologists will need to plan and organise their resources and activities, keeping on top of which samples they have collected from where, and ensuring quality control in manufacturing processes. As with any research and development role, there are a lot of administrative and organisational duties, including data recording and producing reports.
Many microbiologists stay in academia and complete research based qualifications, such as Master's and PhDs.