“Always trust a microbiologist because they have the best chance of predicting when the world will end”
― Teddie O. Rahube
A microbiologist might work in different environments depending on his/her area of speciality. As a clinical microbiologist, they can work in a healthcare setting where they are expected to identify pathogens that causes diseases and help in the protection of the community from the spread of infections.
Also, a microbiologist might work in a research and development company for the pharmaceutical and food industries. Others include the agriculture industry, the environment, education, and emerging biotechnology industries.
Microbiology as a course entails the study of a living organism that is too small to be seen with the naked eye. This organism includes bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, and viruses. All these are collectively known as microbes.
Microbiologists are continuously needed in our changing world since their job essentially requires the uncovering of important discoveries.
In this article, we would be considering some of the basic descriptions of who are microbiologist is and some of the benefits of studying microbiology at a University level.
This article on Superprof will also show you where you can study microbiology in Nigeria and some of the job opportunities available to a microbiologist in the 21st century,
Duties of a Microbiologist
Microbiologists are individuals with a strong passion for the scientific world. These science lovers make use of different analytical and experimental techniques to study different microbes such as bacteria, algae, viruses and fungi.
As a microbiologist, the commonplace where their day-to-day activities are carried out is the laboratory. Other tasks and duties of a microbiologist include:
- Monitor, identify and help in the control of infectious diseases
- Help to investigate how micro-organisms produce vaccines, antibodies, hormones, and other biotechnology products
- Development of new pharmaceutical products such as antiseptics, medicines and vaccines
- Collecting samples of organic matter from a wide variety of locations
- Managing laboratories
- Use molecular biology techniques to develop and test new medicines and treatments for disease
- A microbiologist helps to monitor the quality and safety of manufactured medical and food products
- Assess the use of microbes in food production, soil fertility, and crop production
- Create safe ways to dispose of waste
- Use micro-organisms to control pollution and the breakdown of toxic substances
- Planning and carrying out clinical trials
- Writing of research papers, and seminars about their research
- Working as a researcher and lecturer in a university or teaching hospital
The job of a microbiologist often includes presenting their research findings, supervising the work of support staff, and carrying out other administrative duties.
To be successful as a microbiologist, it's expected that one possesses the following essential skills. These include patients, independence, attention to detail, communication skills, team-working skills, and outstanding IT skills.
Some modern-day heroes in the field of microbiology include Harald Zur Hausen – he discovered the relationship between the papillomavirus and cervical cancer, Alexander Fleming that discovered penicillin, and Edward Jenner that designed and created the first smallpox vaccination.
Why is it Important to Study Microbiology?
"In microbiology, the roles of mutation and selection in evolution are coming to be better understood through the use of bacterial cultures of mutant strains."
― Edward Tatum
This course is related to other biological science courses such as biotechnology, biochemistry, ecology, and genomics.
However, it is important to note that most microbiologist works under a microscope in laboratories far from the prying eyes of the general public. These very important people in society rarely receive the accolades due them unless they cure a disease or infection such as the COVID-19.
Nevertheless, they are numerous benefits and rewarding experiences that come with the study of microbiology. Some of these benefits include
- A clearer view of the World: The study of microbiology gives one a better understanding of the world that we live in. through the exposure and investigation into the world of microbes, microbiologists tend to develop a good understanding of the microorganisms that live on our planet which are invisible to the naked eyes.
- A Chance to Conducting Life-Changing Research: As the world is battling with new diseases every day, a microbiologist has the opportunity to work in a state of the art laboratory backed by a private organization or the government.
- Solving Life-Threating Challenges: A microbiologist is opportune to take part in solving major health and environmental problems that affect billions of people living in our world. There can help to create a new vaccine, find a filter clean water, and cleaning up the environmental pollution.
Steps in Becoming a Microbiologist
Now that we have an idea of what a microbiologist does and the benefits of studying these significant courses, let's look at how one can become or study microbiology in the University.
To study microbiology at any Nigerian University, you are expected to have at least 5 credits on the required WAEC subject combination needed to study Microbiology in Nigerian universities.
These subjects' combinations are also applicable to other O’level exams such as NECO And GCE. The O'level requirement, that is the required WAEC subject combination for Microbiology must include, English Language, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology
For the JAMB UTME subject combination, you are required to write Biology, Chemistry, and Physics/Mathematics.
But remember that JAMB is not the only option to gain admission into Nigerian Universities to study Microbiology. You can also access the opportunity for university education through IJBM, JUBEB, ND, HND or Pre-degree
Microbiology Courses Offered in Nigeria Universities
Nigeria has a population of approximately 200 million people making it imperative for the availability of numerous universities and other institutes of higher learning. Presently in Nigeria, over 100 Universities offering microbiology as a course of study.
The following are some of the Universities where you can study microbiology as a course to your doctorate level.
Abia State University Uturu
The department of microbiology at Abia State University is known as the department of microbes. The department is one of the foundation departments of the university. The department runs a four-year degree program that leads to the award of Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Honors Degree in Microbiology.
The discipline of microbiology was established to produce well-grounded and skilled graduates as well as to serve other allied departments such as Biochemistry, Optometry, Biotechnology, and Plant science. The degree program of the school consists of course work, relevant practical exercises, project reports, and industrial work experience.
In addition to the four-year B.Sc. degree program, the Department runs postgraduate programs leading to the award of Postgraduate Diploma (PGD), Master of Science (M.Sc.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D) in Microbiology.
Covenant University, Ota is a private University founded by Bishop David Oyedepo. The university offers different courses which microbiology is one of them. The department was formed to provide students with an intellectually stimulating and satisfying learning experience in this exciting subject and to also provide the students with appropriate laboratory skills and field experience.
To qualify and be eligible for the award of the B.Sc. (Hons) Degree in Microbiology, the student is expected to register and pass a minimum of 165 units. These must include all the compulsory courses, University General Courses, NUC Courses, and SIWES.
University of Ilorin (Unilorin)
To study Microbiology at the University of Ilorin, one is expected to have at least a credit pass in five subjects at SSCE O’Level or other approved equivalent. These subjects must include English Language and Mathematics at not more than two sittings.
You can also come in as a direct entry student with a minimum of two passes at the principal subject or at the Advanced Level. The candidate is also expected to possess at least a credit pass in five subjects at SSCE or equivalent which should include English and Mathematics.
The full-time microbiology course is slated for four years. Here each student learns a new concept of microbiology such as introductory biology, medical microbiology, applied molecular biology, cell biology and genetics, and epidemiology.
Other Universities in Nigeria where you can also study microbiology to PhD level includes the University of Ibadan (UI), Igbinedion University Okada, University of Jos (UNIJOS), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (OAU), University of Port-Harcourt (UNIPORT) and University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN)
The Best Jobs Opportunities Available for Microbiologists
Having the right job to do after graduating with honours in Microbiology from those respected Universities in Nigeria and abroad is something to look forward to. Superprof have helped you research the best jobs available for microbiologists
The following are some of the best work opportunities directly related to a degree in microbiology:
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Medicinal chemist
- Technical brewer
- Biomedical scientist
- Clinical research associate
- Clinical scientist, immunology
- Food technologist
- Water quality scientist
- Research scientist (life sciences)
Other Jobs where your degree would also be useful include:
- Forensic scientist
- Environmental engineer
- Science writer
- Physician associate
- Marine biologist
A career in the field of microbiology is highly recommended for individuals with an analytical and scientific mind that enjoys the diversity
Pioneers of Early Microbiology
Some of the pioneers and past heroes of microbiology have also won different laurels such as the Nobel Prize for the contribution to the development and progress made in the field of microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology.
Here is a timeline of celebrated microbiologist
- 1901 – Emil Adolph Van Behring (Developing of Serum Treatment)
- 1905 – Robert Koch (Discoveries in tuberculosis)
- 1952 – Selman A. Waksman (Discovery of Streptomycin, an antibiotic for tuberculosis)
- 1953 – Adolf Krebs and Fritz Albert Lipmann (Discovery of Citric Acid Cycle and Co-enzyme)
- 1954 – John Franklin Enders, Thomas Huckle Weller and Frederick Chapman Robbins (Discovery the possibility of poliomyelitis viruses to grow in cultures of various types of tissue and making polio vaccine possible)
- 1958 – George Wells Beadle and Edward Lawrie Tatum (Discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events\0
- 1962 – F.H.C Crick J.D Watson and H.F Wilkins (Explained the molecular structure of DNA
- 1965 - François Jacob, André Lwoff and Jacques Monod (discoveries of genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis)
- 1993 - Kary Mullis (Invented the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique)
- 2008 - Harald Zur Hausen (discovered that human papillomaviruses can cause cervical cancer) and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier (Discovery of HIV)
Other discoveries have also been made in the 21st centuries which you can also read by visiting Microbeonline.com.