What is Integrative Biology? (with photos)

People who study integrative biology may have a career in research or academia.

Integrative biology is the study and research of biological systems. It does not simply involve one discipline, but integrates a wide variety of disciplines that work together to find answers to scientific questions. For example, biological sciences, engineering, physical sciences, and social sciences are incorporated to address specific biological issues.

Individuals who choose to study integrative biology may have a career in research or academia.

The interrelationships that occur between organisms and their environment are often studied through integrative biology. Specific research may involve genetic or environmental studies, but the goal is always to solve a larger biological problem. While always focusing on living organisms, the focus can range from the smallest molecular studies to broader studies of the biosphere.

Integrative biology is ideal for those who don’t want to focus on just one discipline.

Those who study and pursue a career in integrative biology have extensive knowledge. They might consider themselves behaviorists, geneticists, physiologists, ecologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists, just for starters. They may have a career in research or academia. They can spend their time in the field collecting data and samples or teaching students in a university classroom. They can also continue and receive additional degrees in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, sociology, law, and psychology.

There are undergraduate and graduate programs. Most integrative biology degree programs begin with an emphasis on fundamental science and math classes, such as an introduction to biology, chemistry, calculus, and physics. Higher level courses often cover more in-depth topics such as integrative anatomy, genetics, behavior, environmental biology, and evolution.

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It is common for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in laboratory or field courses related to integrative biology. Hands-on experience is considered one of the best teaching methods. It works to deepen students’ understanding and help them convert abstract terms into something more physical.

Many traditional disciplines are researched in new ways through integrative biology. For example, students and researchers often think of new problems and new questions. They also analyze old questions and develop new theories. Research includes a wide range of topics, for example how environmental stressors affect genes in animals and plants.

Integrative biology is an interesting field of study. It is ideal for those who do not want to focus on just one discipline. It allows flexibility and convergence of disciplines more than any other field of study. Not all colleges or universities offer degrees in integrative biology; however, with the proper research, there are many options.

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