Glossary - Sciences

To research your course options at different universities, visit our participating universities' websites. 

Agricultural Scientist 

Agricultural scientists study commercial plants, animals and cultivation techniques to improve the productivity and sustainability of farms and agricultural industries. Agricultural scientists who specialise in the wine industry deal with the research and production of wines and the microbiology and chemistry of viticulture.


Agronomists are experts in agricultural practices with the aim to increase crop yield and farming profits. This may include specialist positions in research, extension and advice, sales, crop nutrition, soils and farming sustainability.

Analytical Chemist

Analytical chemists carry out tests and analysis to determine the compositions of substances and to detect the presence of impurities, residues and trace elements.


Astronomers study planets, stars, galaxies and other objects in the observable universe and use this information for theoretical and practical purposes.


Audiologists test hearing and assess the nature of hearing disorders. They are responsible for the non-medical management and rehabilitation of hearing loss and associated disorders of communication.


Biochemists study the chemistry of living systems to increase scientific knowledge and develop ways to apply this knowledge in areas such as medicine, veterinary science, agriculture, environmental science and manufacturing. Biochemistry provides a basis for all the life sciences.

Biomedical Geneticist

Biomedical geneticists use their knowledge to better understand and treat genetic disorders, such as sickle-cell anaemia.


Biotechnologists study plants, animals and microorganisms. They use this knowledge to develop uses for biological processes, which include creating products for pharmaceutical, agricultural, diagnostic and environmental use, and advancing industrial processes. Their work may incorporate the use of small molecule technologies, nanotechnology, bioinformatics and synthetic biology.


Climatologists study changes in the climate and try to forecast major long-term changes. Some develop and run climate models to predict future changes, while others focus on improving our knowledge of present and past climate change through observations, using techniques such as ice core analysis and study of the fossil record.

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists are specialists trained in the assessment and diagnosis of major mental illnesses and psychological problems.


Entomologists are zoologists who specialise in insects. They could work in areas such as agriculture, disease epidemiology, ecology, genetics and many more.

Environmental Chemist 

An environmental chemist monitors waste products from all sources, determines ways to neutralise any negative effects pollutants might have on the environment and devises industrial processes that are environmentally friendly.

Environmental Scientist

Environmental Scientists study, develop, act on and advise on policies and plans for managing and protecting the environment and natural resources. They often work for government agencies or commercial companies. Others work for non-government organisations in Australia and overseas.

Food Technologist 

Food technologists develop and improve existing food products and set standards for producing, packaging and marketing food. They use chemistry, microbiology, engineering and other scientific methods to develop techniques for food preservation.

Forensic Scientist 

Forensic scientists apply scientific procedures and techniques to the examination of potential evidence that may assist in legal investigations.

Genetic Counsellor

Genetic Counsellors are health professionals with specialised training and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counselling. Genetic Counsellors work as members of a healthcare team, providing individuals and families with information on the nature, inheritance, and implications of genetic disorders to help them make informed medical and personal decisions.


Geneticists study genes and the passage of traits from parents to offspring through generations. There are many branches of genetics. Agricultural geneticists use their knowledge to try to increase crop yield and disease resistance of crops.


A geochemist studies the mineral and chemical composition of rocks using equipment such as optical and electron microscopes, X-ray diffraction, atomic absorption and mass spectrometry. They may also be involved in examining the transport of pollutants through rock masses.

Geographic Information Systems Officer 

Geographic information systems officers design, develop and customise geographic information systems and provide technical and analytical support to address issues such as environmental management, exploration and mining, land ownership and titles, urban and regional planning, utilities and asset management, and demographic marketing.


A hydrologist evaluates and manages the quality, quantity, reliability and sustainability of all aspects of water resources. Hydrologists are concerned with surface water processes such as rainfall, run-off, evaporation, river flows, floods and droughts, erosion and water pollution.


Immunologists study the immune system, infection and diseases. They can work in hospitals, treating patients, or work in laboratories researching new treatments and the function of the immune system.

Industrial Chemist 

An industrial/production chemist designs, runs, troubleshoots and improves the processes of chemical and material production on an industrial scale.

Laboratory Technician 

Laboratory technicians assist scientists, engineers, technical officers and other laboratory staff by collecting and preparing samples, carrying out experiments, making measurements with scientific equipment, recording results and presenting results for critical analysis.

Marine Biologist 

Marine biologists study the origin, structure, functions and behaviour of all forms of life in the sea and connected estuaries, rivers and lakes, as well as their relationships with each other and how they are affected by environmental factors.

Medical Laboratory Technician 

Medical laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and other procedures used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the human body.

Medical Physicist 

A medical and health physicist studies the practical applications of physics in hospitals and develops and monitors safety limits in workplaces. Medical physicists also develop and operate medical radiation therapy equipment.


Meteorologists forecast the weather and study the atmosphere to improve the understanding of climate.


Microbiologists study microscopic forms of life such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae and fungi to increase scientific knowledge and develop medical, veterinary, industrial, environmental and other practical applications.

Mining Geologist 

A mining geologist ensures that minerals, rocks, and gems are extracted from mines, pits, and quarries in a manner that allows maximum profit and involves minimal problems.


A nanotechnologist designs and manipulates structures at the atomic and subatomic level to create materials and devices of increased durability and efficiency. Nanotechnologists use a combination of techniques from across the sciences, including physics, chemistry, biosciences, material science and engineering.


A Neuropsychologist is a psychologist who has completed special training in the neurobiological causes of brain disorders. Neuropsychologists specialise in diagnosing and treating these disorders or illnesses with a predominantly medical approach (as opposed to psychoanalytical methods).

Occupational Health and Safety Officer 

Occupational health and safety officers coordinate health and safety systems in an organisation. They identify hazards, assess risks to health and safety, put appropriate safety controls in place and provide advice on accident prevention and occupational health to management and employees.


Parasitologists are zoologists who specialise in parasites, their hosts, and the relationship between them.

Park Ranger 

Park rangers control, supervise and manage national parks, scenic areas, historic sites, nature reserves and other recreational areas.

Patent Examiner 

Patent examiners investigate patent applications and report on whether they comply with the requirements of Australian patent legislation before granting patent rights for new inventions. The work of patent examiners is technically complex. It involves knowledge of technical processes used in industry and advances in scientific research. It also involves making legalistic decisions based on their knowledge of patent law.


Pathologists prepare tissue sections from surgery, and examine tissue and bodily fluids for the presence of chemicals and microbiological organisms. They examine tissue to determine the nature, cause and progress of disease. They write reports and work in hospitals, private clinics or laboratories.


Pharmacologists work in the branch of science that seeks to provide a deep understanding of the effects of drugs on the human body. They may also work in a hospital or community pharmacy. 

Research Assistant 

Research assistants work as part of a team on research projects. They can assist in all aspects of the research project, including background reading, carrying out experiments or tests, writing reports and presenting research at conferences.

Science Writer 

Science writers write and edit news reports, commentaries, feature articles and blogs about science related topics for newspapers, magazines, radio, television and websites, including online publications.

Science Teacher 

Science teachers in secondary schools teach one or more subjects within the school curriculum to secondary students.


Seismologists study and collect data about vibrations that occur in the Earth's interior, such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

Soil Scientist 

People in this profession study the biology, chemistry, physics and hydrology of soil systems, and conduct research and advise on matters relating to soil conservation and management.


Statisticians design and apply statistical techniques for creating, collecting and analysing data to draw conclusions, inform decision-making and direct policy within areas such as science, technology, medicine, education, business, finance and government.

Tissue Culture Technician

Tissue culture technicians use various techniques to grow live cells, mostly plant or animal, under laboratory conditions, producing specimens that are genetically identical to the parent tissue. This tissue culture can be used for growing viruses within the cells or, in the case of plant tissue culture, producing an entire plant from a small amount of tissue.


Veterinarians diagnose, treat and help prevent disease and injury in animals. They advise on measures to prevent the occurrence or spread of diseases and on ways to improve the health and productivity of animals, and supervise safety standards on food supplies.


A vulcanologist is a scientist who specialises in the study of volcanoes and volcanic activity.


Zoologists are biologists who study the structures, characteristics, functions, ecology and environments of animals to increase scientific knowledge and develop practical applications in wildlife management, conservation, agriculture and medicine.

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