Case Study: Zoological Scientist - Bill

What do you do?

Zoologists study all aspects of animals, including patterns of animal density in specific areas, to ensure that certain species do not become extinct. We also study the molecular structure of animals and develop research programmes at universities.

I am a lecturer at a university. My area of interest is animal cell division and how cells move.

What is your background?

I've been interested in animals for as long as I can remember. In fact, I remember learning to read from a big colourful book about animals.

At university, I took a degree in applied zoology and then a combined MSc and PhD. I stayed at the university as an assistant researcher and worked my way up from there.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

Zoologists should be curious people, interested in how organisms work. They should be practical, analytical and creative to come up with new ideas and new ways of doing research.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

Zoological scientists can work in research positions, in conservation and environmental work or in zoos, wildlife trusts and nature reserves.

What changes will there be in the future?

I think the demand for scientists will stay about the same. Zoology has many departments, so if you get a degree in zoology there are many different areas where you can find a job.

The internet and email are helping scientists to conduct research faster and keep in closer contact with the zoology community.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

The most challenging part of my job is wearing so many 'hats'. I am a researcher, writer, teacher and administrator.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

There are not many opportunities in zoology. You may be able to do some research work while you're at university. This will give you good experience.

What do you like about your job?

What I like most about being a zoological scientist is that it's intellectually stimulating. Most importantly, our work helps us to understand the world we live in and to protect the endangered species that we share the planet with.

What do you dislike about your job?

My job is very much a balancing act. Sometimes, I have loads of essays to mark, which prevents me from doing research. I dislike having to worry about how much time to devote to different parts of my job.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Work hard at building up your research skills. Also, don't neglect communication skills - sooner or later you'll need to discuss your work with colleagues and sometimes with people who don't have a background in zoology.

Above all, don't lose sight of the original fascination with animals that made you interested in the first place.

A day in the life

7:30 am - 8:30 am

Getting into the office at the zoology lab, reviewing lecture notes, talking to graduate students about research projects.

8:30 am - 11:00 am

Teaching zoology and cell biology classes in a large lecture hall. After the lecture, talking to students one-to-one, answering their questions about that day's lecture.

11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Returning to the office and doing research either there or in the lab.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Eating lunch.

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Doing more cell structure research in the lab, going back to the office to do some paperwork and administrative duties.

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Attending a faculty and departmental committee meeting.

5:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Reading through some scientific journals with a cup of coffee.

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