Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

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Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby Pussycat on May 18th, 2018, 6:39 am 

Hi guys. I'm new here so I'm not quite sure if my question is appropriate, but I've been seeking advice elsewhere without much luck. I'm a mature-age student, planning to study science at Uni. I've always been interested in plant breeding, but I'm afraid that I would have to do a level of post-grad study that I probably don't have the time or money to do, in order to secure a job or have any chance of getting one. I've considered environmental science or engineering also, in the area of revegetation/rehabilitation. I guess I'm after any advice as to which might offer the best employment prospects, wage etc. I am in Australia, if that makes a difference! Any advice is appreciated! Thanks X
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby zetreque on May 18th, 2018, 1:04 pm 

That sounds like a slightly similar career path as me.

I'm not sure what level you are entering but I will assume a bachelor degree.
Environmental Science is the broader category and then you can look for work specializing in plants. You might cross with biology as well. You will probably need to dive into some chemistry and earth science and even social justice if you want to really understand your interest of plants.
Simply put, take environmental science with a focus on plants.

Jobs can be restoring habitat and parks in cities and neighborhoods. There were a lot of bad building practices over the years that need to be fixed to prevent flooding, damage to private property, and increasing the well being of citizens. Look up "water gardens." for example that give water a place during runoff and create habitat. Also there are roadway projects to restore alluvial fans and rivers (or streams) that trenched due to roads and building. The people that work in this area sometimes start their own or work for an engineering consulting contracting firm.
A couple decades to a century of development that never took into account water runoff, impervious surfaces, and erosion need to be updated.

I myself would focus more on the area of localized distributed organic farming and food share when it comes to plant breeding. If you are entrepreneurial you could do a lot in that area. I'm not going to recommend too much because as it is I am against plant breeding and GMOs. The last thing we need is more food for a larger human population. If you grow it, they will come.

On the other hand, there are needs for people to breed and grow endangered species that are endangered because of various human introduced pathogens or developments. These species aren't just endangered but are of economic importance due to tourism, fire protection, or ecosystem health.

There is a lot of flawed science in the area of fire protection right now where people are using any excuse possible to slash, burn and log the forest in the name of human safety when it's just doing more damage. So there needs to be some good people in that area that understand native species, ecosystems and natural fire to help communities build with the environment rather than against it.

And there needs to be people helping to have more sustainable logging practices. I hate to say it but society needs wood, lumber, paper, so there is a HUGE industry and topic to explore for jobs in that area and varies region to region. That can then lead you into transportation of wood products and as I said social justice issues, and isolation vs globalism.

Of course there is always the issue of water. As pointed out that's a major area for restoration and rehabilitation. Water gardens as I mentioned are ways to help slow down water for plant uptake and human water needs. Training people to breed native species for nurseries and landscapes also helps conserve water and protect against fire in many cases. So you might end up digging into the area of hydrology to know what plants do to help water flow in the system and watersheds.

One area I found myself in actually is in plant pathogens. With rapid climate change, human induced monoculture, and invasive species we are seeing problematic species of economic impact. It's hard to know where you will end up when starting out. The hard part is jumping in and enjoying the journey.
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby Pussycat on May 18th, 2018, 8:49 pm 

Zetreque - thank you so so so much! You obviously know exactly what you're talking about! I'm not overly thrilled with GMO's either, so it's good to hear that there's still scope around that. I will most likely do as you suggested, and follow environmental science with a plant focus. It's great to get some feedback from somebody in the industry, so again, thank you X
P.S. Love the 'If you grow it, they will come'. Lol!
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby zetreque on May 18th, 2018, 9:05 pm 

Glad I could help. Let me know if you have any other questions.

If your interest in plant breeding is in genetics, there is a lot of government funded research in plant pathogens and planet genetics evolution and interactions out there. Invasive plant species and migrating plant species is a big issue right now and cross paths with some people who appear to be leading the way in protocols for figuring this stuff out.

In many cases, whatever your degree is in doesn't have to match what your profession ends up being. As you pursue a degree in environmental science you will figure out more of what to focus on for the skills you need to do the work you want to do. Many people graduate and don't use 90% of what they learn in school for their job. School introduces you to the concepts and a toolkit that you can utilize in a profession and it shows that you have the capability to learn and hopefully end up with the ability to educate yourself in whatever you need during your profession.

If you already really know what you want to do, you may find school to be a bit frustrating having to take things that don't seem related. With an open mind though you can figure out how all those seemingly unrelated things can contribute to making a unique name for yourself and excel at your work. If you are a older non-traditional student you will probably appreciate this more than your classmates and get much more out of school.
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby zetreque on May 19th, 2018, 1:25 am 

I added a couple more ideas to my first post. I wouldn't count on getting rich, but lots of areas to potentially find jobs in and you never know where you will end up. Good luck.
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby Pussycat on May 19th, 2018, 5:32 am 

That's great info. My interest in plant science does indeed come from my passion for Aust. native plants, and my concerns regarding the fact that so many of our unique species (plant & animal) are rapidly being wiped out - especially because of the introduction of so many foreign pathogens, predators & competitive species. Some efforts in the past have been disastrous (think cane toads), but I'd love to have the chance to make a positive impact. I'm also interested in 'bush foods', and their possible development as primary agricultural products. It seems to make more sense to me to grow species that are adapted, and native, to the environment, rather than manipulating the environment to suit foreign crops, like rice or cotton.
One more question - did you do any post-grad study, or have to, in order to progress in your field? My impression, particularly in regards to plant science/genetics etc is that it is probably necessary. Do you think so? Once again, thanks for your wisdom X
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby zetreque on May 19th, 2018, 12:08 pm 

I am in the US. A common thing I find with people I work with is they do not get more than a masters degree because they have no desire to become a teacher or professor. People seem to think that the only use for a PhD is to become an expert on something specific and a professor so they can continue a career in academia. A major reason people get masters or PhD is also so they can continue to get funding to pay for their schooling. It's much easier to work in academia, science, and learn what you are passionate about when you are getting research grants or funding being tied to a university after a bachelor degree. It's also kind of like a honor system where your country helps you get an advanced education and then you help your country by paying it forward. Unless your schooling was funded privately in which case you are supposed to contribute to the industry.
By the time you make it to that stage of your education it will make more sense and you will have a better idea of what you want or need in order to progress. I am at that stage now moving up.

PS: There is a thread on this website somewhat recently about cane toads.
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby Pussycat on May 19th, 2018, 2:52 pm 

Once again, thanks :) I had a look at the cane toad discussions - fascinating stuff. I recently watched a segment about their breeding activity, & how incredibly destructive & dominant their tadpoles are. We Aussies unfortunately do have a track record of indroducing foreign pests or diseases to try & control other foreign pests or diseases - creating one hell of a mess as a result. I can't wait to start studying, & I'm so glad I found this site!
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby zetreque on May 19th, 2018, 2:59 pm 

There is lots of opportunity out there for an inquisitive mind. The challenging part is the financial one but there is a lot of opportunity out there like internships, fellowships, grants, and interest free loans for people in school. I wish you luck and welcome to this forum!
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Re: Career - plant breeding or environmental science?

Postby Biosapien on October 5th, 2019, 12:00 am 

If your interested in research then may be you can scratch your mind on following topics

1) Identifying the plants which are efficient in trapping the air pollutions or particulate matter from air.

2) Plants or plant based extracts which has high medicinal property such as antibacterial/fungal or even anticancer.

3) Plant waste which can be used as a raw material for production of eco-friendly products
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