What they do
Biotechnologists use biological organisms to create and improve products and processes in fields such as agriculture, environmental conservation and medicine. They study the genetic, chemical and physical attributes of cells, tissues and organisms, and identify industrial uses for this knowledge. The applications of biotechnology are widespread and include developing new medicines and vaccinations, cross-breeding plants and animals to encourage beneficial characteristics, and using bacteria and enzymes in areas such as food production and waste treatment. Some biotechnologists may also work with cutting edge and potentially controversial technologies such as genetic modification and stem cell research.
Biotechnologists work in laboratories and offices, usually located in universities, research institutes or processing and/or manufacturing plants in the Perth metropolitan region. They often work with hazardous chemicals and biological matter, which will require them to wear protective clothing. Those based in manufacturing or processing plants may also work around machinery which can be noisy and potentially dangerous. Most biotechnologists will work regular business hours, however, evening and weekend work may occasionally be required to complete experiments or compile reports.
Tools and technologies
Biotechnologists use a range of standard and highly-specialised laboratory equipment. The more standard equipment includes microscopes, filters, pumps, evaporators and centrifuges. Many of their experiments are carried out with the aid of computerised machines which are able to perform highly-complex and specialised tests in a relatively short space of time. Some chemicals may release noxious fumes and require workers to wear masks and carry out experiments in specially-designed fume cupboards.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a biotechnologist, you usually need to study a science degree, majoring in biotechnology or biomedical science. You may need to complete further postgraduate study to specialise in biotechnology or biomedical science.
Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.