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Agricultural and Food Scientist: If An Agriculture And Food Lover?Find Out How Can This Also Be A Career!

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Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products. Since this job falls under healthcare and human welfare, it is of crucial importance. Let?s try and understand its professional aspect.

WHO IS A FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENTIST?

Agricultural and Food Scientists conduct experiments and analyze data about crops and food production methods. These scientists may also use their findings to create new and innovative ways to increase agricultural output or improve the quality of our food supply. Sometimes this work involves traveling to farms and other specific sites to obtain samples. They must then communicate their findings and prospective solutions to other members of the scientific community and sometimes policy-makers as well. More experienced Agricultural and Food Scientists may lead and coordinate an entire team of researchers.

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SCIENTISTS?

Agricultural and food scientists typically do the following:

  • Conduct research and experiments to improve the productivity and sustainability of field crops and farm animals
  • Create new food products and develop new and better ways to process package, and deliver them
  • Study the composition of soil as it relates to plant growth and research ways to improve it
  • Communicate research findings to the scientific community, food producers, and the public
  • Travel between facilities to oversee the implementation of new projects

Agricultural and food scientists play an important role in maintaining and expanding the nation's food supply. Many works in basic or applied research and development. Basic research seeks to understand the biological and chemical processes by which crops and livestock grow. Applied research seeks to discover ways to improve the quality, quantity, and safety of agricultural products.

Many agricultural and food scientists work with little supervision, forming their own hypotheses and developing their research methods. In addition, they often lead teams of technicians or students who help in their research. Agricultural and food scientists who are employed in private industry may need to travel between different work sites.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD SCIENTISTS?

Animal scientists typically conduct research on domestic farm animals. With a focus on food production, they explore animal genetics, nutrition, reproduction, diseases, growth, and development. They work to develop efficient ways to produce and process meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. Animal scientists may crossbreed animals to make them more productive or improve other characteristics. They advise farmers on how to upgrade housing for animals, lower animal death rates, increase growth rates, or otherwise increase the quality and efficiency of livestock.

Food scientists and technologists use chemistry, biology, and other sciences to study the basic elements of food. They analyze the nutritional content of food, discover new food sources, and research ways to make processed foods safe and healthy. Food technologists generally work in product development, applying findings from food science research to develop new or better ways of selecting, preserving, processing, packaging, and distributing food. Some food scientists use problem-solving techniques from nanotechnology?the science of manipulating matter on an atomic scale?to develop sensors that can detect contaminants in food. Other food scientists enforce government regulations, inspecting food-processing areas to ensure that they are sanitary and meet waste management standards.

Plant scientists work to improve crop yields and advise food and crop developers about techniques that could enhance production. They may develop ways to control pests and weeds.

Soil scientists examine the composition of the soil, how it affects plant or crop growth, and how alternative soil treatments affect crop productivity. They develop methods of conserving and managing soil that farmers and forestry companies can use. Because soil science is closely related to environmental science, people trained in soil science also work to ensure environmental quality and effective land use.

Agricultural and food scientists in private industry commonly work for food production companies, farms, and processing plants. They may improve inspection standards or overall food quality. They spend their time in a laboratory, where they do tests and experiments, or in the field, where they take samples or assess overall conditions. Other agricultural and food scientists work for pharmaceutical companies, where they use biotechnology processes to develop drugs or other medical products. Some look for ways to process agricultural products into fuels, such as ethanol produced from corn.

At universities, agricultural and food scientists do research and investigate new methods of improving animal or soil health, nutrition, and other facets of food quality. They also write grants to organizations, such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to get funding for their research. For more information on professors who teach agricultural and food science at universities, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

In the federal government, agricultural and food scientists conduct research on animal safety and on methods of improving food and crop production. They spend most of their time conducting clinical trials or developing experiments on animal and plant subjects.

Agricultural and food scientists may eventually present their findings in peer-reviewed journals or other publications.

WHAT IS THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS FOR AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD SCIENTISTS?

Every state has at least one land-grant college that offers agricultural science degrees. Many other colleges and universities also offer agricultural science degrees or related courses. Degrees in related sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, or in a related engineering specialty also may qualify people for many agricultural science jobs.

Undergraduate coursework for food scientists and technologists and for soil and plant scientists typically includes biology, chemistry, botany, and plant conservation. Students preparing to be food scientists take courses such as food chemistry, food analysis, food microbiology, food engineering, and food-processing operations. Students preparing to be soil and plant scientists take courses in plant pathology, soil chemistry, entomology (the study of insects), plant physiology, and biochemistry.

Undergraduate students in agricultural and food sciences typically gain a strong foundation in their specialty, with an emphasis on teamwork through internships and research opportunities. Students also are encouraged to take humanities courses, which can help them develop good communication skills, and computer courses, which can familiarize them with common programs and databases.

Many people with bachelor's degrees in agricultural sciences find work in related jobs rather than becoming an agricultural or food scientist. For example, a bachelor's degree in agricultural science is a useful background for farming, ranching, agricultural inspection, farm credit institutions, or companies that make or sell feed, fertilizer, seed, or farm equipment. Combined with coursework in business, agricultural and food science could be a good background for managerial jobs in farm-related or ranch-related businesses. For more information, see the profile on farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.

Many students with bachelors' degrees in application-focused food sciences or agricultural sciences earn advanced degrees in applied topics such as toxicology or dietetics. Students who major in a more basic field, such as biology or chemistry, may be better suited for getting their Ph.D. and doing research within the agricultural and food sciences. During graduate school, there is an additional emphasis on lab work and original research, in which prospective animal scientists have the opportunity to do experiments and sometimes supervise undergraduates.

Advanced research topics include genetics, animal reproduction, agronomy, and biotechnology, among others. Advanced coursework also emphasizes statistical analysis and experiment design, which are important as Ph.D. candidates begin their research.

Some agricultural and food scientists receive a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM). Like Ph.D. candidates in animal science, a prospective veterinarian must first have a bachelor's degree before getting into veterinary school.

TOP INSTITUTES FOR THE STUDY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SCIENCE

Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

Kharagpur, West Bengal

Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh

Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh

GIET University, Gunupur

Gunupur, Odisha

Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur

Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture Technology and Science, Allahabad

Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore

Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Sonepat

Sonepat, Haryana

Vaugh Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Allahabad

Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth, Parbhani

Parbhani, Maharashtra

Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi

New Delhi, Delhi



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