Undergraduate Focus: Studying life in its myriad forms
Life sciences are the study of life – plants, animals, humans and everything related.
Study in the many branches of life sciences lead to important discoveries and aid in the understanding of earth’s living organisms. For example, the study of biology and its sub-disciplines (that include biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and cellular biology) are crucial in the areas such as the study of evolution, the concept of earth’s geological and chemical properties, species distribution and ecology.
Life sciences are an important area of study with far reaching effects. Take for example the study of ecology, which looks at the relationship between organisms and their environment. Ecologists look at the composition and distribution, among other factors, of species within an ecosystem and try to understand the whys, hows and predict what factors contribute to significant changes in the state of ecosystems. Ecosystems and their factors of dependence are important because they affect biodiversity, climate, food production methods, the environments we live in and the like.
Areas linked to ecology could include botany, agriculture and human nutrition (crucial to food scarcity issues), discovery of new medication and treatment methods, including changes to the composition of natural products in the clothes we wear (hemp, cotton), the cars we drive (rubber tyres, biofuelled engines) and even the type of cats and dogs we rear (cross-breeding).
Because of the broad nature of life sciences and its many applications, it is important for potential students to first understand the types of jobs they can get (scientists, teachers, manufacturing, health & medicine and the like), the areas of postgraduate study (genetics, immunology, GM foods and so on) and identify where their interest lies.
It is a big world out there and there is so much to take in, and therefore knowing whether you want to spend your days in a laboratory conducting experiments, or out in the field doing research, or even in a classroom imparting your knowledge, a career in the life sciences is fruitful and specially rewarding. After all, the study of life can never be boring.