What is a Scientist?

The word scientist is a general term, used to describe someone who researches and examines various aspects of the physical world in order to attain a better understanding of how things work and function.

There are many specializations of 'scientist', and depending on which field of study one chooses to follow, the work can vary greatly. Each scientist, however, follows 'the scientific method', which is a strict set of rules that ensure all new discoveries are factual and not just speculation.

What does a Scientist do?

A scientist looking through a microscope in a labratory.

Scientists work in every field imaginable, and can therefore be found working for an expansive range of employers.

Large and small companies will hire scientists to work on products and research projects. Universities will hire scientists to do research work or to teach. Governments and hospitals issue research grants and hire scientists to work on funded projects.

Regardless of the path the scientist decides to follow, the ultimate goal is to always add knowledge and insight to the larger scientific community, as well as to help ignite new discoveries for the future.

The following are various types of scientists. Click on each type to learn what they do.

Chemist - studies the composition, structure, and properties of substances and their reactions

Biochemist - studies the chemical and physical principles of living things and biological processes

Biologist - studies life and living organisms

Marine Biologist - studies all living things in the sea

Molecular Biologist - explores and studies the structures and functions of cells on a molecular level

Microbiologist - studies microscopic organisms such as bacteria, algae, and fungi

Cytotechnologist - prepares and examines human cells for the presence of disease

Geneticist - specializes in the science of genetics

Geologist - studies the history, origin, and structure of the earth

Paleontologist - studies the fossilized remains of all kinds of organisms

Geographer - studies the earth and its land, features, and inhabitants

Zoologist - studies animals

Mammalogist - studies mammals

Entomologist - studies insects

Animal Scientist - studies agricultural productivity and food safety

Horticulturist - studies the science behind different plants, flowers, and greenery

Conservation Scientist - studies and devises ways to use and improve the land while safeguarding the environment, crops, and food supply

Soil and Plant Scientist - studies the different compositions of soil and the effect they have on plant life, crops, and the national food supply

Archaeologist - studies ancient people and their culture

Anthropologist - studies sociohistorical, archaeological, linguistical and biological aspects of humanity

Audiologist - studies hearing and balance

Physicist - explores and identifies the basic principles that govern the structure and behaviour of matter, the interaction between energy and matter, and the generation and transfer of energy

Particle Physicist - studies subatomic elements of matter and subatomic particles

Astronomer - studies outer space

Hydrologist - studies water and the water cycle

Atmospheric Scientist - studies the scientific and mathematical aspects of the earth's atmosphere, climate and weather

Meteorologist - uses scientific principles to observe, understand and be able to explain or forecast how the earth's atmosphere affects the earth and everyone on it

Geospatial Information Scientist - uses technology to gather geographic information

Bioinformatics Scientist - studies and dissects large amounts of datasets at the molecular level

Materials Scientist - studies and analyzes the chemical properties and structure of man-made and natural materials

Natural Sciences Manager - supervises the research and activities of scientists and technicians

Are you suited to be a scientist?

Scientists have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also artistic, meaning they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if scientist is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Scientist like?

Where don't scientists work? A scientist can be found almost anywhere: universities, government facilities, company labs, for-profit companies, in space, on ships, underground, in hospitals, in private practice and in forests. Pretty much anywhere in the world, and in any industry, there are scientists working in their particular field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Mathematicians scientists?

Whether a mathematician can be called a scientist or not is a somewhat grey area which is not definitive. Strictly speaking, mathematicians are not considered natural scientists. The latter investigate the physical world; mathematicians’ work is more abstract and intangible.

Nevertheless, some of the traits one may find in a scientist – an investigative spirit, an enthusiasm for discovery, a voracious appetite for constant learning – can be found in a mathematician.

The general population, not involved in either science or mathematics, tend to categorize both in the one field. However, the majority of mathematicians would not consider themselves as scientists. Conversely, scientists would not label themselves mathematicians.

Mathematicians deal in absolute truths and must emerge with proof for a theory or hypothesis to be confirmed, while scientists can hypothesize and conditionally accept the results of the hypothesis. This is why mathematicians’ work is almost never redacted at a later date but sometimes scientists’ work can be revised or disproven.

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