Student working in a lab

From the food on our plates to the homes we live in to the fuel in our vehicles, plants impact all aspects of our daily lives. As an ever-growing human population continues to increase the demand for crops and other plant products, so too does the demand for plant scientists. Plant Sciences addresses the challenges from the field to the laboratory. Students enroll in a generalized core curriculum, then further refine their expertise by choosing among a variety of emphasis areas including: Breeding, Biology & Biotechnology; Crop Management; Horticultural Science and Design; and Turfgrass Science. A few of the plant sciences careers include Crop management specialists, horticulturists, plant geneticists, biotechnologists, plant protection specialists, and turfgrass scientists. Crop management specialists find employment with universities, the USDA Agricultural Research Service or private companies. They answer agronomic questions specific to their region, study major field and forage crops, and examine the feasibility of growing alternative crops for niche markets. Horticulturists use their knowledge of plant growth to sustainably produce flowers, vegetables and ornamental plants to enhance the environment. Careers include botanical gardens, commercial greenhouses and nurseries, landscape design firms, or life science companies. Plant geneticists or biotechnologists are employed in technical positions by life science companies such as Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer. The education needed to fill these positions includes genetic engineering, molecular biology and traditional plant breeding. Career goals may include development of crops with specific traits such as producing medicinal compounds or improving crop resistance to adverse environmental conditions, pests or other stresses. Plant protection specialists develop strategies to improve plant productivity by strengthening natural resistance to insects, diseases and weeds. Careers include crop consultants, seed sales representatives or extension specialists. Turfgrass scientists strive to improve the ability of turfgrass to withstand the demands of drought, weeds, pest invasions and foot traffic. Professional sports teams, golf courses, cities and school systems all offer careers in turfgrass management.

Photo from Mizzou Creative