9 Myths about Biologists


This subject has developed wide offshoots in the last two decades that it has become unconventional to generalize biotechnologists, microbiologists, biochemists, geneticists, immunologists and so forth as biologists these days. Yet, I bring all of them under one umbrella here in order to marginalize them from the on-demand professionals – the engineers, the ITs, the marketers…

All the while during my college and university days, I was one among the birds of the same feathers – talked, walked, danced and partied with biologists. Well, at times I had to study too 😉 And now with the acquaintances of folks of other spheres in the last few years, I am familiarised with these common illusions non-bios have over biologists. Come, take a look.

1. Biologists cannot be good at mathematics: More often than not I see we, biologists being stamped as mathematically challenged. May be bios dig their own pits when they say “I chose Biology in class 11 because I hate maths”. The truth is even if maths could have been hated in school, no biologist would be spared when he/she lands on work. True, we don’t get into hard-core integration and differentiation. Nonetheless, math skills are an integral part of our everyday bench work. We do see abso-bloody-lutely numbers, decimals, to the power of, fractions, logarithms and percentages as many as any others. A laboratory experiment does involve a number of volumes and concentrations. There were even nights when I had sincerely solved DNA calculations in my dreams 🙄

2. Biologists have an interesting profession: It’s interesting to imagine being involved in an active research team, experimenting, analyzing, discovering……..! Well, sometimes realities are aliens to imaginations, aren’t they? If it’s monotonous to face their laptops eternally for some software guys, it’s even more frustrating for some biologists to face consistent futile attempts in their experiments. Especially doctorates in this field individually can write books on their displeasures on from indenting their chemicals to getting their thesis approved 😳 Probably it was interesting for scientists of 1900s which was a period of inquisitiveness rather than acquisitiveness. Not to mean that it’s a lackluster profession, but not all bios end up having enough time and good luck to write blog posts during work…….hopefully my boss is unaware of my blogging capabilities 😉

3.All biologists work with conical flasks and glass test tubes: A curious non-bio asked me once what my lab would be like, if it were full of conical flasks and test tubes.  Bah! This is what I would call as a tongue-in-cheek! Not all bios necessarily have to work with these. Please refill your visions with rats, mice, drosophilas, zebra fishes, petri plates, centrifuge tubes and microscopes instead. I haven’t seen one conical flask and a glass test tube after my second year in Bachelor’s 😛

4. Biologists should know everything about the human body: The only well-known branch of biological study 20 years before was medicine. And still many assume that all biologists study only about human body. I was once laughed at since, being a biologist I did not know the normal urine glucose level 😯 Excuse me, what Biotechnology has got to do with people’s urine and mucous? Many specialized areas such as studying only about human cells, only about human viruses, human metabolism etc have come up. And it’s really unfair to expect us to know what causes snoring 😕

5.Biologists are computer illiterates: At least these days bios are acknowledged for checking e-mails, FBing, orkuting and twittering. There were days when we were considered ineligible to have e-mail accounts. Just because we don’t know programming and we don’t use screw drivers, it does not mean we are not familiar with computers and technology. My fellow biotechnologist can hack passwords and trace IP numbers. Mind it! Me too capable of formatting my own PC with the pirated copy of the copy of the copy of the copy of the XP CD 😎

6. Biologists are nerds: Less laws, principles and derivations in biology have made others to think bios score grades by doing donkeywork. Trust me, we didn’t swot for exams. It requires an understanding to study about structures and functions of DNAs and cells as well. We did take in lots of books from our library in university, that was all only to prevent our class boys from scoring better than we, girls 😆


7. Biologists see genes and proteins exactly as how they appear: If you’ve heard about the gene structure, you will know that the DNA appears like a spiral staircase (Above Left). And do you think biologists visually see DNA in this form all the time? No! We can only see DNA and proteins hidden in a solution (Above Right). Tests confirm their presence. That’s it. 99% of biologists who extract DNA all their lives see this way. The remaining 1% have to work with electron microscope to be able to see the fine structure.

 8. Biologists are mostly atheists: This misconception is because science is considered an antonym to God and biology is considered a synonym to science. Well, I have seen PhD students deeply praying to Hanumanji for their desired DNA band to appear magically before running their DNA gels 😀 (An experiment to confirm the presence of the desired DNA in their extract). If a network engineer has his profession got to do nothing with his going to temples, a cancer biologist too has his profession nothing to do with his fast for Lord Shiva on Mondays. After all, the last promise doctors give is Trust in God.

9. Biologists don’t party:  W-h-a-t    t-h-e    h-e-c-k! 

Now do you wonder why I chose only 9 instead of 10? Just to prove that biologists don’t follow the crowd 😉 Well, actually,  I could come up with only 9 here. I appreciate points from your own experiences too. Will be added here!

 Updated on Nov 23rd 2010

10. Biotech graduates have great career opportunities: (Thanks to Subhashini for the input) The biotech BOOM which keeps being printed in the newspapers and magazines definitely helps for a good sale of their media. It’s good for the writer’s career. If you’ve had a biotech post/graduate in your family, you would know what GLOOM is veiled behind the BOOM 🙁 At least in India, with the less number of industries in this arena as compared to the thousand pass-outs every year, many biotechs are forced to work for BPOs, study SAS, SAP, JAVA, ORACLE or apply for a PhD position in a foreign university.

11. Biologists don’t discuss anything other than biology over coffees: (Thanks to Upasana Bhattacharjee) While working as a summer trainee in a biopharma company, soon after my post graduation, I too was under this spell that all scientists invariably discuss only about recent  scientific discoveries and the intricacies involved in their own projects – owing to the fact that I had noticed in the cafeterias, most scientists conversing with one another politely with deep thinking involved. Probably the absence of an apparent excitation in their chats made me assume so. Once I happened to take a table close to one such conversion and (over) heard a scientist, in the similar polite and unenthused manner, narrating how his kids enjoy playing with their cats and what annoyed his wife most about him 😛 We may not be good animators, but we do hash out on politics, wives, movies and FOOD!

12. Biologists don’t dress up fashionably (Thanks to Hepshiba) I did believe in this myth too a while ago.  During my masters dissertation work in a research institute in Gurgaon, it was a common sight to witness weird combos of chudidhar/sarees + sport shoes + woollen jackets + leather gloves + back bags. It took winter to fade off to discover the real slim and hep hidden figures 🙂 Our dirty jeans are confined to the institute campuses only, we do know what it means to be trendy out of the gate 😆

Photo Courtesy:

A Typical Molecular Biology Lab www.sams.ac.uk

DNA (Left) www.fiveprimegenetics.com

DNA (Right) www.makezine.com

0 Replies to “9 Myths about Biologists”

  1. Biologist – their applications/work are basic for living.
    Others- All others are basic for SOPHISTICATED living.

    1. There is hardly a thin line between living and sophisticated living in the modern world. 30 years before electricity was a luxury, now its inevitable for our everyday lives.

      //All others are basic for SOPHISTICATED living//

      SIGMA and CORNING industrialists will run behind you with stones if they hear this …….ha! You couldnt have earned your doctrate without they manufacturing all our stuffs 😉

  2. I am not sure if anybody agrees or not but some of my non-biologist friends feel that whenever me and other biologists get together all we all discuss about DNA, Protein structures, Petridishes, Bacterial colonies and what not. That’s kinda not true though 😛
    I do agree on the 5th point here. Bioinformatics surely is the answer for all those who think biologists are computer illiterates!

  3. A good one…

    I once was asked about a disability of some brain region (I am not sure which) in a newborn and asked what could be the cause and diagnosis. I was shocked. I may be working in a brain institute, it doesnt mean I know everything about it.

    I, also, think this is not just the case of a biologist. I once asked an engg guy about a kind of jarring noise that used to occur whenever I play any song from my laptop in full volume. He said, “I am an engineer but it doesn’t mean I should know everything about electronics.”

    One other thing about being a ‘Biotechnologist’: Whenever people ask what was my education and I would say Biotechnology. they will then promptly say, ” Oh! Then you have wide scope – getting job is fairly easy”

    An other myth about Biology: It is more a woman- kind of course. Most men think that engineering, physics and maths are meant more for men than women because of reasons you know why…….

    1. Yeah, most of us would have had the experience of being asked a MBBS course question sometime in life 😉 Very true, we equally hold several myths about other professions. Sounds like a good topic for another post ..hahaheheh…:lol:

      //Getting job is fairly easy//

      This should have been the first point here 🙂

      Shall add the points soon!

    1. Yes, as how we think software professionals even without an engineering background should know how to repair a tape recorder 😛

      Thanks for your visit and comment Pooja. Keep visiting!

  4. Seriously, i tell u, all these have happened with me.

    Enjoying the nature of Canada with my neighbor naturally started talking about snow fall, and fall season- where the entire leaves of the tree changes pigment and then shed off the leaves. There was one complete row of trees where there was absolutely no change. I was totally mesmerized with the nature and asked her whether she knew anything about the tree and the reply from her thrilled me

    “Common, what do we know, U should tell us, u are a Biotechnologist” Grrrrr… Where is biotechnology, where is snow fall and where is fall season?!? I agree that we would have studied frost resistant trees and some bla bla bla in plant tissue culture but how can one expect us to know everything about anything??!!

    And top of that her husband got some mango or some leaves somewhere and was asking me to tell the botanical name of it! 🙂
    I told them that i was not a botany student, then the instant reply
    “Then what scientist are u?:-)” I dint know how to realise them that our work will be on some god forsaken part of the body in detail.. 🙂

    We face many more situations like this because of our profession. They expect us to be nerdy and with some spectacles all the time. Why, scientists/Biologists can’t be fun loving and with contact lense is it? Some people expect me to tell the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis associated with typhoid and ask my advice showing me the prescription doc has prescribed. 🙂
    God!! Thanks to the internet which will save me most of the time.
    I could neither answer abt plants nor about human medicines then what am i, what is our study bascially!! This question started lingering around all the time.
    Just imagine how minute to minutest is our study all about.. In general
    Is our study about animals totally – No
    Plants – never
    Human Tissues – No
    Cells – not exactly
    Cell membrane- somewhere close to
    Lipids/Proteins/Some minute transmitters/micro or nano molecules of the cells – Yes Yes yes thats what we work
    Ah, such a depth of science, such a minute part of the body. But the happiest part is the result which will be in macro level!!
    Anyway, thanks to ur blog made me to write so much today. Ur blog was all as if i had written my experience. Good one. Keep going

    1. Wah! You’ve written almost half the size of the post 😆

      Asking you for a botanical name……???? That was toooo much 😉 Send all those people the link of this blog post to make them realize the real biohood and get more traffic on my blog 😉 😛 🙂

      //Ask my advice showing me the prescription doc has prescribed//

      Hey…..this happens, very true! I’ve been asked to decode all the …tosis, ….demia, ….gitis disorders and especially explain what are all those ….bitol and ….mycin tablets for.

      //what is our study bascially!!//

      How I wish we knew the answer !!!

      Its wonderful that we could recollect such trivial incidents today here Sush!!!! Thanks for your encouragement, keep visiting.

    1. Thanks Albino Mouse. I can see your subject passion in the your blog title and your posts. Good work. Welcome to pages from serendipity and please continue your visits here 🙂

    1. There are hardly few non-bios who get to read this post because most of my circle of readers are birds of our feathers 😉 So thanks a lot from stopping here. And your time.

      Your Goan post was really fantastic. And the pictures was extra-ordinarily beautiful, especially the parachute one.

      Please keep visiting.

  5. Bravo Nandhini,
    excellent post…..you’ve spilled the beans on the secret lives of biologists, now we may not be half as exciting as we used to be.


    1. Hahahha……..Nabz, that was wonderful! Point 2 and 10 was something I really really wanted everybody else to know 😉 Thanks so much for your comment.

  6. nandu…good work….really this topic u have chosen for the blog is really a very different one and people may rarely think to write on it as nabeel has corectly commented that secrets of biologists u have revealed finally…

    ya i agree to most of your points because it happened to me also from my non biologist friends and even my relatives.But u know one thing i always feel very privileged and fortunate to be known as biologist or scientists sometimes especially when people expect from us so much in the field of science and medicines and when we are able to answer some of their queries.They start giving us more respect and we become proud of our subjects.

    Nandu…as u told we add some thing…so I want to add one more myth in your blog..that non biologists some years back used to think that biologists are non fashionable,out dated and non fun-loving.
    This question was asked to me in my college time in BSc when i used to wear jeans and tops,girls frm BA and commerce stream will be surprised when i tell them I am doing graduation in science.They say usually girls from biologists are so out-dated,wear big power glasses and always bookworms.so please include this point also in ur blog that biologists are equally fashionable, though they dont show off much like other field people and at the same time they are fun loving but serious when need to be.And more that outside apparel its our mind and knowledge within us that keeps us modern.

    nandu this is the first time i am reading anybody’s blog and so first time in commenting..and all the credit goes to u as the topic was so practical that i coudnt resist myself in reading it…so now i think u r happy that finally i read ur blog after telling me so many times.

    i know u will tell me that my comment is as long as ur blog…its ok but read ….hee haaa

    Thanks and Best wishes..

    1. Dear HEPES…….was that a revenge? Because I had pestered you to read this post, you as well made me read a long comment……..Ha 😉

      Its great you took this time, greater that commented and greatest that you’ve given ideas too. Thanks a lot. Shall add yours soon.

      // i always feel very privileged and fortunate to be known as biologist or scientists//

      Though this went masked, I should sure say scientists hold a unique respect in our society. And a good reason for our chests to grow 2 inches about 😛

      //wear big power glasses and always bookworms//

      Actually I had fancied too for long to get to wear a glass, you know for the looks it gives. Unfortunately my Vitamin A is too much over flowing with the too many carrots I had had as a kid and my opthalmologist gets annoyed every year when I ask her to check t-h-o-r-o-u-g-h-l-y…..;) 😛 😆

      //i know u will tell me that my comment is as long as ur blog//

      There is nothing else than this to make a blogger’s chest to grow 2 inches!

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