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Overview

Like to dish the dirt? As a botany/plant biology major, you’ll learn about every aspect of the plant world, from a four-leaf clover to the world’s largest rain forests. Your passion for plants will lead you to study their individual structures, how plants are alike and how they differ, and how to identify and classify plants of all kinds. (Never again will you be able to hike through the woods with friends without feeling the irresistible urge to point out, name, and provide factoids on every tree, plant, vine, and shrub.) Plants play an important part in our culture, and you’ll learn about their many functions and roles in nutrition, medicine, and our ecosystem. You’ll study how plants have evolved and how they have affected us, and in turn, how we have affected them.

In this increasingly technological world, advances in the field of botany/plant biology are abundant, and your studies may lead you to any number of careers—from a burgeoning field like biotechnology to working for environmental causes or firms. You might study the ways in which we can manipulate the growth of plants and genetically alter them for nutritional or environmental benefits. Or you may get involved in the rapidly expanding study of organic food products and the plants and herbs that make up homeopathic medicines. Botany/plant biology gives you the opportunity to study the very building blocks of plant life.

Programs in botany/plant biology vary from college to college. Some may offer a general overview of all different fields, leaving it up to you to specialize later in graduate programs. Others may require you to choose a concentration such as cellular biology, genetics, or environmental biology. In all cases, your studies will include a great deal of research, field work, and lots of time in the laboratory and possibly a greenhouse, giving you hands-on experience in this exciting and significant field.

SAMPLE CURRICULUM

  • Anatomy of Vascular Plants

  • Biology

  • Cell Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Ecology of Vegetation

  • Ecosystem Ecology

  • Evolutionary Survey of the Plant Kingdom

  • Flowering Plant Systematics

  • Microbiology

  • Mycology

  • Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants

  • Plant Molecular Genetics

  • Plant Morphology

  • Plants, Environment, and People


HIGH SCHOOl PREPARATION

For a botany/plant biology major, your best preparation will be advanced-level courses in biology, chemistry, math, and computers. And don’t forget your English courses; effective scientists must also be good communicators. You might also try to get involved in groups that deal with plants and the environment—besides being a great way to gain knowledge related to your field, you’ll also be able to get a taste for what your college studies might lead to in the future.