So, we meet again! In my last blog, i started sharing about Microbiology as a promising career field. We talked about what Microbiology is all about. In this following article, I have elaborated the qualities needed to become a Microbiologist. Also, I have tried to throw some light on the future opportunities in this field.
Do you have these qualities in you?
Liking this field is more important than having certain qualities. Qualities can be acquired over time and a sincere student does gain them if he keeps his/her goal fixed. A good microbiologist will require patience, keen observational power, logical thinking and ability to digest failures. Science is never easy because you probe what is unknown. Every experiment will not fail but learning from those failed experiments will give you insights what is lacking. One should also be good in Mathematics. It is a very wrong notion that Biology is devoid of Mathematics. One must have a basic and clear understanding of Mathematics if one has to interpret the result data.
Opportunities for a Microbiologist
The field of Microbiology is booming world-over! Many of the solutions to the problems which we face today can be solved by these microbes, be it food crisis, energy crisis, global warming or multidrug resistance. We have also been able to successfully domesticate these microbes to produce many products for our own benefit like insulin, vaccines, antibiotics and liquor. These microbes have wonderful flexibility and we continue to exploit this property to help us unravel many complex mysteries. Recently, the realm of human microbiome has been revealed and it is as promising as human genetics once was in the 90’s. One can opt to specialize in fundamental microbiology which involves fields like microbial diversity, taxonomy, genetics, biochemistry or go for applied microbiology which involves genetic engineering, fermentation technology, disease biology or agricultural microbiology.
Opportunities in India for the field of Microbiology are immense given the massive inflow of funds and technology in Basic research and industrial set-ups. This field which has remained one of the classical biological sciences is now waking up from its slumber set up of microscopes and flasks to taking the world on a whim with Big Data analysis in Microbiome studies, innovative therapeutics and space microbiology. Researchers and Industries are employing these microbes to solve problems faced on a global scale and on an individual scale alike.
Is the field secured enough?
A student must resolve at the end of his Master’s to pursue research or join industry. Choosing either of them have equal opportunities for growth in terms of financial stability and intellectual understanding. A research career will involve pursuing further studies in the form of a Doctorate (Ph.D). It basically involves focusing on a few observations,defining clear objectives and performing a set of neatly designed experiments to test your hypothesis. It requires patience and good communication skills. Ultimately, you need to explain to the public what you did by publishing your data.
Pursuing a career in industry is equally rewarding. Most of the set-ups are at manufacturing level where the industry focuses on producing certain biological products like vaccines, biomass, chemicals or liquor. There is always R & D at the industrial set-up if you wish to delve more into the product.Students who wish to pursue research careers in the form of Doctorate can avail fellowships from various government funding agencies like CSIR, TIFR, ICMR and DBT to the tune of 4 lakhs per annum. They may even join research labs for small projects where the fellowship is in tune of 2-4 lakhs. Those pursuing career in industry may face initial hurdles in terms of lower compensation but growth in industries is much more promising in the long run. Initial joining salary for industries may range from 2 – 4 lakhs, depending upon the choice of industry and your host institution but one can expect close to 20-30 % growth per year in salary.
](https://www.facebook.com/abhik9.kulkarni?fref=ts)Considering the Indian scenario about career selection, where parents play a major role, it would be my advice to parents that do not force this career option just because the student could not secure an admission to Medical or Pharmacy. Any career in science has to be pursued because the aspirant is keen enough to take the risks and dive deeper. You may not find immediate benefits if you just swim in shallow waters. Financial stability and security is indeed available to those pursuing their doctorates or careers in industry. Let it be the student’s first choice to select this career.
In my opinion, the biggest challenge that we face today in this field is the link between research labs and industries. We have the scientific expertise yet we fail to get the product to the market. We are making some progress into this field but this is where the greatest challenge but also the greatest opportunity lies. Start-ups and small scale industries are coming up but will need a lot of incentive wrt manpower, tech know how and technological set-up. Students with a business mind should definitely try their hand at developing products and be involved in evolving the process.
This realm of microbiology has a lot to offer but it can only be seen by those curious eyes !