Cool Careers in Science

Medical Genetics Genetic Counseling Biogenetics On the Cutting Edge with CRISPR




Cool Careers in Science



Mason Crest Miami

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Table of Contents

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Chapter 1: What Do Genetic Engineers Do? . . .13 Chapter 2: Terms of the Trade . . . . . . . 35 Chapter 3: Preparing for the Field and Making a Living . . . . . . . . 47 Chapter 4: Key Skills and Methods of Exploration . 65

Chapter 5: The Future of Genetic Engineering . .79 Photo Credits . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92 Further Reading & Internet Resources . . . . 93 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Educational Video Links . . . . . . . . . . 96 Author Biography . . . . . . . . . . . . 96

Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.



Careers in Science Offer Good Pay, the Opportunity to Help People, and Other Rewards

Where would we be without science? Well, we’d be without computers, smartphones, robots, and other cutting-edge technologies. Crimes would take longer to solve without modern forensic analysis techniques. We’d be stuck relying exclusively on environmentally unfriendly fossil fuels instead of using renewable energy. And life would be less fun, because we wouldn’t have drones, awe-inspiring and physics-defying roller coasters, or the computer and video games that we play for hours. Job markets are sometimes strong and sometimes weak, but a career in science (which, for the purposes of this series, includes the related fields of technology and engineering) is almost a sure path to a comfortable living. The following paragraphs provide more information on why a career in science is a great choice. Good pay. People in science careers earn some of the highest salaries in the work world. The median annual salary for those in engineering careers in the United States is $80,170, according to the US Department of Labor (DOL). This is much higher than the median earnings ($38,640) for all careers. Additionally, those in life and physical science occupations earn a median of $66,070, and information technology professionals earn a median of $86,320.


Science professionals who become managers or who launch their own busi nesses can earn anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000 or more. Strong employment prospects. There are shortages of science workers throughout the world, according to the consulting firm ManpowerGroup. In fact, engineering workers are the third most in-demand professionals in the world. Technicians rank fourth, and computer and information technology professionals rank sixth. There’s a shortage of software engineers in more than twenty countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the United Kingdom, according to the recruitment firm Michael Page. Other science careers where there is a shortage of workers include electronics engineers (nineteen coun tries), electrical engineers (sixteen countries), data analysts (eleven countries), and hardware engineers (six countries). The DOL predicts that employment of computer and information technology professionals in the United States will grow by 12 percent during the next decade, which is much faster than the average for all careers. Career opportuni ties for those in the life and physical science occupations will grow by 7 percent (faster than the average). The outlook is also good for engineering professionals. Employment is expected to grow by 4 percent during the next decade. The strongest opportunities will be found in the rebuilding of infrastructure, oil and gas extraction, renewable energy, and robotics. By 2028, the DOL predicts that there will be nearly 757,000 new jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Rewarding work environment and many career options. A career in science is fulfilling, because you get to use both your creative and practical sides to develop


Cool Careers in Science: Genetic Engineers

new technologies (or improve existing ones), solve problems, and make the world a better place. In the case of 3-D printing, you get the chance to develop tech nology that will change the way products are manufactured in countless industries. There’s a common misconception that science workers spend most of their time in dreary, windowless laboratories or research facilities. While they do spend lots of time in those places, they also spend time in the field, testing, troubleshooting, and trying out their inventions or discoveries. Some science professionals launch their own businesses, which can be both fun and very rewarding. Job opportunities are available throughout the United States and the world. Science professionals play such an important role in our modern



world that there are job openings almost anywhere, although many positions are found in big cities.

Is a Career in Science Right for Me? Test your interest. How many of these statements do you agree with?

___ My favorite class in school is science. ___ I also enjoy computer science classes. ___ I like to learn about scientific breakthroughs. ___ I like to design and build things. ___ I like to solve puzzles.

___ I enjoy doing science experiments. ___ I am curious about how things work. ___ I am creative and have a good imagination. ___ I like to build electronics and other things that require electricity. ___ I like to take things apart and see how they work. ___ I am good at math and physics. If many of the statements above describe you, then you should consider a career in the sciences. But you don’t need to select a career right now. Check out this book on a career as a genetic engineer, and other books in the series, to learn more about occupational paths in the sciences and related fields. Good luck with your career exploration!


Cool Careers in Science: Genetic Engineers

A career in the sciences or related fields can be highly satisfying.

CHAPTER ONE Introduction



In the early 1950s, the scientist Rosalind Franklin created X-ray images of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Words To Understand

algorithm: a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations domesticate: to tame a wild animal or breed a wild plant, for use as food, companionship, or some other activity genome: the complete set of genetic material in an organism herbicide: a chemical that kills weeds insulin: a hormone that’s important for getting glucose (sugar) to cells, to use as energy transgenic: describes an organism that has DNA from an unrelated organism


Chapter 1

What Do Genetic Engineers Do? What is Genetic Engineering? In the early 1950s, the scientist Rosalind Franklin created X-ray images of deox yribonucleic acid (DNA). Her work, which revealed the structure of the genetic material in cells, provided a foundation for the discoveries of her better-known colleagues, James Watson and Francis Crick. According to the writer Jamie Metzel, the work of Watson and Crick essentially showed that “the Book of Life had a structure.” Just over 50 years later, the Human Genome Project announced that they had completed their work: identifying and mapping the genes that comprise human DNA. Or, to continue with Metzl’s analogy, the Human Genome Project taught us that “the Book of Life could be read.” That brings us to the modern world of genetic engineering, in which the genes of all types of organ isms can be not just mapped, but deliberately manipulated and changed. In Metzl’s words, genetic engineering shows that “the Book of Life can be written.” Some of the techniques employed by biotechnologists have already made their way into daily life; for example, consumer products like 23andMe allow anyone with


a spare $100 to get a peek into their genetic make-up. In the medical field, genetic engineering is used to design better treatments, and in the near future it may be used to eliminate certain diseases before they even occur. Another key technique involves taking pieces of genetic material fromone organism and splicing it into another—creating what’s called recombinant DNA . This work has already revolution ized agriculture and is poised to do the same inmany other industries. In the coming decades, people with backgrounds in genetics will find their services required in an increasing number of fields. This chapter will look at the three major areas where genetic engineers work—agriculture, medicine, and biotechnology—and also introduce you to additional fields where a genetics background may open doors to exciting career opportunities. Genetics, Genomics, and Biotech If you’re reading a book on careers in genetic engineering, you probably already have a basic sense of what genetics is all about. But just to make sure we are all on the same page, here is a very quick overview of the topic. The human body is made up of around 37 trillion cells, and most of them contain a complete copy of that individual’s genetic material—called deox yribonucleic acid (DNA). DNA is shaped a bit like a ladder, and each “rung” is made by a pairing of chemicals, called DNA bases . These bases come in only four types: adenine (A), which can only pair with thymine (T); and cytosine (C), which can only pair with guanine (G). There are more than 3 billion base pairs in the human genome . Everything that makes us . . . well, us . . . begins with these base pairs. This applies to all other living organisms, as well. Whenever a new cell is generated, the genetic material has to be copied or replicated . Most of the time,


Cool Careers in Science: Genetic Engineers

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