Girls in Science & Technology: Marine Biologist

Overview
Marine biology -- the study of marine organisms, their behaviors and their interactions with the environment -- is considered one of the most all-encompassing fields of oceanography. To understand marine organisms and their behaviors completely, marine biologists must have a basic understanding of other aspects or "disciplines" of oceanography, such as chemical oceanography, physical oceanography and geological oceanography. Therefore, marine biologists and biological oceanographers study these other fields throughout their careers, enabling them to take a "big picture" approach to doing research.

Because there are so many topics one could study within the field of marine biology, many researchers select a particular interest and specialize in it. Specializations can be based on a particular species, organism, behavior, technique or ecosystem. For example, marine biologists may choose to study a single species of clams, or all clams that are native to a climate or region.

Marine biotechnology
One area of specialization, the emerging field of marine biotechnology, offers great opportunity for marine biologists. Marine biotechnology research presents a wide range of possibilities and applications. One area of focus is the biomedical field, where scientists develop and test drugs, many of which come from marine organisms. An example of an application of biotechnology research can be seen in industry or defense, where researchers have developed nontoxic coatings that prevent the buildup of fouling organisms, such as barnacles and zebra mussels. Such coatings are useful for ships and intake pipes used in power plants.

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