What Is Osmosis in Biology? Understanding How Solvents Break the Barrier

Are you getting ready for your first biology class? Or are you trying to shake off the cobwebs and remember your biology from years ago? Either way, you may be asking, what is osmosis in biology?

We want to answer this question in a way that is thorough and understandable at the same time. Dust off your old textbook and put on your reading glasses as you find answers to the question, “What is osmosis in biology?”

What Is Osmosis In Biology?

Osmosis is a type of diffusion. In biology, it is related to cells. Osmosis happens when a solvent flows through a cell membrane, to balance the concentration of a solute — such as salt. If water is a solvent, it will be affected by the amount of salt (solute) that it contains.

Understanding Diffusion

Diffusion happens when molecules move from a highly concentrated area to a less concentrated region. Solids, liquids, and gasses can all diffuse.

When a liquid such as water diffuses in cellular biology, it crosses a semipermeable membrane to balance the concentrations of substances within the cells. As water flows in or out of a cell, the concentration of solutes affects its travel.

Semipermeable Membranes

To answer the question, what is osmosis in biology, we have to understand semipermeable membranes.

Semipermeable membranes are membranes that allow specific molecules or solvents to pass through by diffusion. Every cell in the human body has a cellular membrane, and they are semipermeable.

That word breaks down: “semi” in this biology word means “partly”, and “permeable” means “able to be passed through, or permeated.” So, semipermeable membrane means a membrane partially able to be crossed.

Some things can pass through, and others cannot.

Osmosis happens as solvents pass into and out of the cell, crossing that semipermeable membrane.

Osmosis in Plants and Animals

Plant cells need more water than animal cells. Plants have thicker cell walls that can contain more solution before bursting. For that reason, plants can thrive with the diffusion of hypotonic solutions.

Hypotonic solutions have a much higher ratio of solvent to solute. Hypotonic solutions can make animal cells burst; animal cells have thinner cell walls than plant cells.

Isotonic solutions are much better for diffusion in animal cells. Isotonic solutions contain equal amounts of solvent and solute. Conversely, isotonic solutions will leave plants drooping and unhealthy.

Did you ever hear of someone pouring salt on a slug when they were a child? Hopefully not; but if you did you know the slug shriveled up and essentially disappeared. That is because the water left the slug’s cells in an attempt to balance the concentration of salt outside the cells.

That is osmosis in action.

Examples of Osmosis

Try it at home! If you are looking for an example of osmosis you can easily try at home, and you have some lettuce in your fridge (or any leafy green like kale or spinach) that has become wilted try this experiment:

Types of Solutions

test tube

image source: pixabay.com

Every solution has a solvent and a solute. When you buy contact lens solution, you are essentially buying saltwater; water is the solvent and salt is the solution. The same is basically true of your tears.

Solutions

To answer the question, what is osmosis in biology, we have to understand the types of solutions in biology. Solutions include isotonic, hypotonic, and hypertonic.

Iso means “equal.”

Isotonic solutions have equal amounts of solutes inside and outside the cell. Therefore, isotonic solutions have no net movement because the concentration is already equal.

“Hypo” means “below” or “lower.”

Hypotonic solutions have lower concentrations of solutes outside of the cell than inside. This causes osmosis as solvents enter the cell to even the concentration.

Hyper means “high” or “above.”

Hypertonic solutions have higher concentrations of solutes outside the cell causing osmosis as solvents exit the cell to balance the concentration.

Osmosis Applications and Uses

We asked, what is osmosis in biology, and a logical follow-up question is, what are the applications of osmosis?

Another easy osmosis experiment to try at home:

You need two glass or ceramic cereal-sized bowls, one large carrot or two “baby” carrots, salt, and water.

  1. Pour water into both bowls, sufficient to cover the carrot(s).
  2. Stir salt into one of the bowls until it stops dissolving (hot water will dissolve the salt faster, but let it cool to room temp before adding the carrot).
  3. Place a baby carrot, or half of your large carrot, in both bowls.
  4. Wait: set a timer for one hour, and check your carrots at intervals throughout the day.

We can see something interesting when we drop a carrot into a bowl of saltwater. Within hours the carrot will have become a limp, orange piece of ribbon.

Why? Because the water left the carrot to balance the high concentration of salt surrounding the carrot.

Have you ever watched a suspense movie where the stranded travelers on a desert island are longing for something to drink and one wise traveler warns the others, “Do not drink the ocean water!” A diet of ocean water would leave your cells void of water as it traveled to counteract the salt.

Medicine

Noting the effect of osmosis on our cells, consider the role of osmosis in medicine. Our red blood cells are the giver of life to many who have undergone blood transfusions. In the meantime, red blood cells are stored in an isotonic solution. Remember the solution types?

An isotonic solution is measured to balance the concentration of solutes inside and outside the cells. If the blood cells were stored in a hypotonic or hypertonic solution, the cells would either lose their water or be overtaken by water. Either way, lives could be lost.

A similar phenomenon happens when medicine is received intravenously. If the medicine within the IV solution took on too much solution or lost too much solution, it would not achieve its intended purpose.

Fruits

Have you ever eaten a dehydrated peach chip? Or strawberry chip? Fruits are dehydrated and preserved through osmosis.

Fruits are made primarily of water, so as osmosis causes the water to leave the fruit, it becomes much less likely to spoil

Meat

The opposite is true of meats. Think of the days before refrigerators and ice boxes. How did people preserve their meat? They covered it with salt.

Why did they do that? Unlike fruits that are dehydrated, meats are preserved through drawing solvent into the meat. As the solvent enters, it brings the solute (salt) with it to prevent easy access for bacteria. Salt creates a hypertonic environment that is lethal to bacteria cells.

The Other Side of the Coin

Remember the folks on the desert island? While osmosis could lead to their death through the consumption of saltwater, osmosis could also be their best friend. Since osmosis is a two-way street, it flows into and out of cells depending on concentration levels, it can actually be used to turn saltwater into something salt-free and drinkable.

While the stranded folks wouldn’t have the proper tools to reverse osmosis on the desert island, it is not impossible for someone with an understanding of science and osmosis.

Basically, the pressure is created to push water from highly concentrated areas into an area away from the salt. Today, small units can actually be purchased to reverse osmosis and create safe drinking water.

Here’s an example of a large unit, used in Australia, to clean saltwater for drinking:

Conclusion

water
image source: pexels.com

What is osmosis in biology? Hopefully, you can now answer that question with some thoroughness.

Osmosis is a type of diffusion that happens when a solvent moves through a semipermeable membrane. In biology, water moves through our cells based on the concentration or ratio of solvent (water) to solute (salt).

Semipermeable membranes allow some solutions to pass through, meaning cells can take on too much water or lose too much water. If a cell is in a solution more concentrated than itself (hypertonic), water will enter the cell to balance the high concentration of salt without the cell.

Osmosis also plays a key role in carrying nutrients across the cell membrane. Likewise, waste is escorted out of the cell. Osmosis allows the roots of trees and plants to get the water and nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.

In return, the plants feed us, either directly or by sustaining the herd animals we eventually eat. Plants rely on osmosis to live, and people rely on plants to live.

Aside from plants, osmosis also is crucial to man’s survival because it expels toxins and waste from our systems.

Hopefully, you have an understanding of osmosis as you move ahead in your biology class or as you reflect on your biology class from many years ago. Osmosis in biology is more than a scientific principle in an old textbook; it is a lifeline for both plants and animals.

You can look around you each day and see it at work, from tall trees in your backyard to patients recovering in the hospital with an IV feeding their veins. Practical examples of osmosis range from accident victims receiving emergency blood transfusions to little kids pouring salt on slugs.

Take note of the osmosis that happens in front of you each day and be amazed by the science all around you.

Featured image: pixabay.com

4 Branches Of Biology To Help You Narrow Down Your Focus

If you’re a biology major, then you know it’s a scientific field that is vast and full of opportunities. So much so, that it can also be overwhelming if you don’t have a pre-determined focus.Biology (from the Greek words “bios” for life and “logos” for study) is the study of all living organisms, ranging from the smallest, single-celled organisms to super-complex human beings. It’s an overarching science, but within it are individual branches of biology — each with its own unique focus.

The Branches Of Biology

Biological science is classified into the following four main branches of biology:

  • Subdivisions based on their approaches of study
  • Medical sciences
  • Agricultural sciences
  • Biological science based on organisms

Each discipline has its own experts, its own courses of study and its own professional opportunities. Knowing which one of these branches of biology you want to specialize in will give you a leg up as you enter college, because you’ll be able to take specialized classes designed to maximize your potential and future opportunities.Here, at Biology Junction, we’ve put together a list of scientific specialties available for study within those four main branches of biology. Read the individual listings under each of the branches of biology to discover which might be a perfect fit for your interests.

Subdivisions Based On Approach Of Study

Branches of biology that focus on specific biological processes, such as the interaction either between different organisms or within a single organism’s biological functions, include:

Anatomy

Anatomy is the study of the inner workings of organisms, specifically focusing on the physical structures and organs of plants and animals. It further subdivides into even more specific branches of biology, including morphology (the study of form and structure), histology (the study of the fine details of biological cells observed via microscopes), cytology (the study of function of plant and animal cells) and physiology (the study of the functions and activities of living organisms).

Biochemistry

Biochemistry is the study of natural chemical reactions and processes that take place inside biological organisms and how to affect them. Biochemistry is a field valuable for work in the pharmaceutical industry, because it is helpful in the development of new drugs.

Biogeography

This is the study of the way various species and ecosystems are distributed in different regions of the world through time and structural evolution.

Biogeology

This is the study of the relationship between Earth’s biosphere (the surface area occupied by living organisms) and its lithosphere (the outer surface of the earth including the crust and outer mantle).

Ecology

Ecology focuses on the interactions between Earth’s organisms and their natural environment.

Embryology

Embryology examines the development of the embryo/fetus from the earliest stages through the birth process.

Eugenics

This is the study of how to improve the natural strengths of humanity through genetic selection. Although its primary aim today is to remove genetic disorders from the population, the field is controversial and mostly defunct due to its close association with racism. The remaining elements have been folded in with the study of genetics.

Evolution

Evolution is the study of the gradual changes in plants, animals and other life forms over the life cycle of Earth. It focuses primarily on the process of natural selection.

Genetics

This is the branch of biology focused on heredity and natural biological variations between generations. It focuses on the changes in the genetic code based on the combination of genes.

Immunology

This is a discipline that keys in on immune systems and how to improve those natural defenses against infection within humans, animals and other organisms.

Paleontology

Paleontology is the study of plant and animal fossils to observe the similarities and differences with modern life. It focuses heavily on extinct life forms such as dinosaurs and megafauna.

Parasitology

Among the branches of biology is parasitology, which focuses on parasitic life forms, or organisms that live on or inside other life forms taking their nourishment from their hosts.

Pathology

Pathology focuses on diseases caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi and their effect on the host plant or animal. This overlaps some with parasitology, due to the parasitic nature of many disease-causing organisms. It is a field that leads to careers in the medical profession with its focus on treating rare diseases.

Taxonomy

Taxonomy is the study of classifications, determining the names, groups and subcategories of plants, animals and other organisms. It centers on finding both the similarities and differences between species. This discipline is also known as “systematics.”

Medical Sciences

This is the field of biology devoted to human biological processes and how to improve health. It focuses on curing diseases, repairing injuries and solving rare conditions. Most fields focus on humans exclusively, but some expand to the health and treatment of animals,

Cardiology

Cardiology is a medical science that focuses on diseases and disorders of the heart. This includes both congenital birth defects and acquired heart diseases caused by heart congestion. Many cardiology specialists become cardio-thoracic surgeons who specialize in open-heart surgery and transplants.

Dentistry

This branch of medical science focuses people’s mouths. Dentists diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the teeth and gums, as well as develop preventative methods to help people avoid the ill effects of tooth decay and gum disease before they happen.

Dermatology

Dermatology is the medical science that focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions of the skin. These common disorders also affect the hair and nails, which are also treated by dermatologists.

Gynecology and Obstetrics

Gynecology and obstetrics are medical sciences that deal with the female reproductive system, with gynecology focusing on caring for the reproductive health of women before they become pregnant and obstetrics focusing on caring for pregnant women and their unborn children.

Nephrology

This branch of medical science deals with diseases and disorders of the kidney. Nephrologists often treat patients who have issues with their kidneys and they also conduct kidney transplants and post-transplant care.

Oncology

This is the branch of medical science that researches, diagnoses and treats various forms of cancers. There are many subdivisions focusing on specific types of cancer such as neuro-oncology, which studies and treats tricky cancers of the brain.

Ophthalmology

Ophthalmology is a medical science dealing with the anatomy and physiology of the eyeball and orbit. It specializes in treating vision disorders related to genetics, injury, age or disease. The most common area of ophthalmology involves diagnosing minor eye disorders and prescribing corrective eyewear.

Orthopedics

This medical science is devoted to the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. It primarily focuses on the diagnoses and treatment of injuries and disorders, with specialized divisions focusing on prevention and rehabilitation.

Pediatrics

Pediatrics is a medical science that focuses on the general medical care of infants, children and adolescents. Many subdivisions have pediatric specialists, such as dentistry and oncology, as the medical needs of the young can differ.

Physiotheraphy

This branch of medicine focuses on the science of movement and helps people to rehabilitate after injuries or to maintain physical strength or balance while suffering chronic conditions. The goal of physiotherapy is to help people restore their physical strength and range of motion by addressing underlying issues and overall physical and emotional well-being. There are several subdivisions of physiotherapy that focus on rehabilitation from specific conditions, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and amputations.

Urology

Urology is a medical science that focuses on treating conditions of the male and female urinary tract. It also focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders of the male reproductive system and often crosses over with fertility.

Agricultural Sciences

These are the branches of biology devoted to human interaction with their environment, particularly where it relates to harvesting plants or raising livestock for consumption.

Agriculture

This is the agricultural science branch focusing on raising crops and livestock. Also known as farm science or ag science, it opens the doors to careers in food science and production.

Animal Husbandry

This branch of agriculture focuses on the breeding and raising of domestic animals like cows, pigs, goats, and sheep, as well as their use for meat, fabric, dairy and eggs. It is the most common agricultural science used by farmers.

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineers work with doctors and therapists to develop the tools they do for their job. The biomedical engineer uses their knowledge of the biological process to design the instruments in a way that will not interfere with human health or cause side effects.

Biometrics

Biomedical engineers work with doctors and therapists to develop the tools they do for their job. The biomedical engineer uses their knowledge of the biological process to design the instruments in a way that will not interfere with human health or cause side effects.

Biotechnology

This field focuses on the interaction between the human body and function and artificial products designed to improve human quality of life. A subdivision, bioengineering, focuses on the development of prosthetics, joint replacements, pacemakers, and artificial organs.

Cloning

This field of research involves using DNA from an organism to create genetic duplicates. Research currently focuses on animals and is highly controversial, with research into human cloning outlawed in most locations.

Forensic Science

Similar to biometrics, this division uses genetic markers such as DNA and fingerprints in the service of criminal justice. It focuses on the identification and evaluation of physical evidence and suspects.

Horticulture

This is the field of agricultural science specializing in the science of producing and developing plants for human use. This includes fruits, vegetables, flowers, and decorative plants. The field involves the study of the biological processes of plants and the art of evolving them for speedy development and shelf-stability.

Marine Biology

This field of science specializes in marine organisms and their interactions with humans, other marine animals, and their environment. Those interested in aquaculture or ocean preservation often go into this field.

Molecular Biology

Among the branches of biology, this one focuses on biological activity in individual molecules. Molecular biologists regularly have training in genetics and biochemistry.

Nuclear Biology

This is the field of science that focuses on the interaction of radioactivity with human cells and how to counter the diseases and deterioration that radiation exposure causes.

Pisciculture

This is the study of the domestic rearing of fish as a food source, also known as aquaculture. Specialists in pisciculture focus on the behavior and survival rates of fish in artificial habitats for farming, and provide much of the fish for domestic consumption as the supply of fresh-caught fish diminishes.

Sericulture

This is the study of and raising of silkworms for their raw silk production.

Space Biology

A newer branch of biology, it focuses on the impact of zero gravity and space travel on living organisms. These scientists work with NASA and have tested on both plant and animal life-forms.

Tissue Culture

This biological research field takes fragments of tissue from plant or animal organisms to study in artificial environments for research and experimentation.

Veterinary Science

This branch is a hybrid of agricultural and medical science, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses in domestic animals. There are veterinary specialists for both domestic animals/pets and livestock.

Science Based On Organisms

This division focuses on the study of individual branches of life. There are four primary categories: botany, human biology, microbiology and zoology.

Botany

This is the study of plants and all subcategories including algae, fungi and flowering plants.

Human Biology

This is the branch of biology studying human physiology, evolution, genetics and culture.

Microbiology

This is the study of all living organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye. This includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, prions and archaea.

Zoology

This is the study of all non-human members of the animal kingdom, including mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, birds and invertebrates.Within these four categories there are many subdivisions. They include:

Bacteriology

The study of bacteria and their interaction with other life forms.

Virology

The study of viruses and their interaction with other life forms.

Mycology

The study of fungi, their life cycle and interaction with the environment and other life forms.

Entomology

The study of insects and their interaction with the environment and other species of animals and plants.

Ichthyology

The study of fish and their interaction with their ocean and freshwater habitats.

Herpetology

The study of reptiles and amphibians.

Ornithology

The study of birds, their interaction with the environment and their unique bone structure that makes them capable of flight.

Conclusion

When you narrow down your focus from a biology major to the specific branches of biology you plan to major in, you will find that many opportunities will open for you. Not only are you able to tailor your classes to those relevant to your future career, but you’re also able to seek opportunities for hands-on study.An ichthyology major can talk to veteran ichthyologists at a major aquarium while a biotechnology major will find experts at a physical therapy clinic. Whatever your field of study, the more specific you are about your choice among the branches of biology the better equipped you will be to pursue your dream job.

Featured Image: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Proper Lab Report Format You Need to Know to Pass with Flying Colors

Learning how to construct a proper lab report will not only secure you with a stellar grade in your science class, but it also will teach you how to report coherently your scientific findings to the world once you are in the field. Lab reports are an essential part of the scientific process and are constructed always after a scientific experiment or study. Therefore, learning the proper lab report format is integral to your overall success.

Below, we have detailed all the components of your lab report and have explained the elements that must be included in your rough draft. If you adhere to our guidelines, you will have all the pertinent information you need to get yourself that A on your lab report.

How to Draft Your Lab Report

This goes without saying, but you need to have a thorough grasp of the material that you are studying before you can write your report. If there are elements you are unsure about and that need clarification, make certain you get that missing information before you write your report.

Your lab report needs to show that you have a complete understanding of the experiment or study you are covering, but it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of all the information you have covered in your experiment. To keep yourself organized, make a rough draft of your report with the following points in mind.

assorted doctor tools

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Questions You Need to Answer before Starting Your Report

To make things easier for yourself, you need a clear outline that provides answers to specific questions the report will be answering. Jot down the answers to the following questions before writing your lab report to help you cohesively tie together all the information in your experiment:

  • What do you hope to learn from the experiment?
  • What is the hypothesis you are testing?
  • What will be done in the experiment?
  • Why is this method the best way to test your hypothesis?
  • Why would the scientific community (or classroom) benefit from the knowledge presented in the experiment?

Answering these questions will put you in an excellent position to draft an impressive lab report and give you a thorough understanding of the material at hand.

Double Check Your Data with Your Lab Partners

Human error is likely to happen from time to time, and nothing is more important in your lab report than the accuracy of your data. To ensure you and your lab partners are on the same page and that you all have the correct data, get together after you have completed your experiment to double check your findings. It is much better for you to catch this mistake now than for your professor to catch it while grading your report and deduct points for the error.

Know How to Use APA Format

Before you begin your lab report, it is important that you know the basics. APA format is the most widely used format for lab reports and has specific guidelines that you need to follow. Make sure that your paper is formatted properly so that you get the highest grade possible. Nothing is worse than writing an amazing report only to have your professor deduct points for improper formatting.

The following should be consistent throughout your entire report to reflect proper APA formatting:

  • Paper is double-spaced
  • Margins are one inch all around
  • Font is 12 point Times New Roman
  • Manuscript page header with page number appears in the upper right-hand corner of every page

Write with Your Audience in Mind

Finally, before you write your lab report, make sure you know the audience to whom you are addressing. Write the report as if you are explaining it to a clueless student to ensure that you are thorough and accurate in your reporting. Addressing your report solely to your professor may cause you to gloss over simpler concepts or ideas, and this may result in a lower grade.

Proper Lab Report Format

Now that you are ready to write your report, it is important to know the proper lab report format you will be required to follow. All lab reports follow the same basic formula and comprise five sections: the title page, introduction, methods and procedure, results and discussion. These elements need to be included in your final lab report to explain thoroughly the results and findings of your scientific experiment or study.

Not only will this lab report format help to get you a good grade in class, but it also will get you accustomed to the professional standard that will be expected of you once you are in the field. Below, you will find detailed descriptions of each section, as well as the main points you need to cover in each section.

lab vials

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Section One: Title Page

First things first. Proper lab report format calls for a title page that describes in 10 words or less what your scientific experiment is proving. Titles should start with an action word and vividly describe the premise of the experiment. A successful title will describe succinctly the main idea behind your experiment or study and entice the reader to learn more about your research. The title page also should include your name and your lab partner’s name, your instructor’s name, and the date on which the report was submitted.

Section Two: Introduction

Proper lab report format always will include a thorough introduction of about 150-200 words that includes four basic elements: the purpose of the experiment, the tested hypothesis, a reasonable justification of your hypothesis and a stated connection between the experiment and relevant background research/information.

An easy way to structure your introduction would be to start by first stating your purpose. From there, it is easy to segway seamlessly from your purpose to the relevant background information (often taken from class learnings or lectures) supporting your purpose. This will lead you to the conclusion of your introduction. Here, you will state your hypothesis and reasonable justification of that hypothesis in the final sentences.

This wording method for your introduction is common, but unnecessary. Feel free to experiment with different sentence structures that better suit your particular subject matter, if applicable.

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Section Three: Methods and Procedure

The goal of this particular section is to describe in succinct detail how you tested your hypothesis as well as to provide a reasonable justification and rationale for your chosen procedure. Remember that the goal of scientific research is for it to be reproducible; therefore, other researchers should be able to follow your procedure so they can verify your findings through the same or similar collections of data. For this reason, aclearly defined method and procedure are of the utmost importance to creating a successful lab report.

To begin this section, it is best to list all the materials you used in your method and procedure, as well as to define explicitly the control variable in the experiment. The best way to structure this section is to keep it simple and just follow the chronological narrative that occurred as you were conducting your experiment. Be detailed and always explain the rationale behind what you are doing to show an expert understanding of the material.

Make sure that you are being specific and detailed about how you got your results. Explain thoroughly what you are doing and why you are doing it. Also, be sure to explain what you plan to do with your findings. Quantify all measurements such as time, temperature, volume, mass, etcetera to maintain accuracy throughout this section. You may briefly mention how you quantified and recorded your results and data, but be careful not to jump too far ahead and describe the results in too much detail.

You may want to considering separating the material into subheadings corresponding to each individual component in this section if you had a particularly long or involved experiment to ensure clarity for the reader. However, this is not a standard lab report format and it should only be used if you have a long list of materials to document or if your procedure was convoluted.

It also is important to remember to use proper grammar in this section to avoid any confusion. A common mistake is to use the present tense for describing your experimental procedures because you are writing it in the present tense. However, you must use past tense to described the experiment that occurred in the past to avoid any uncertainty.

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Section Four: Results

The results section is the backbone of your lab report; all other sections of the report depend entirely upon the existence of this section. This is perhaps the most self-explanatory section included in your lab report and may even be your shortest. The goal of this section is to document and highlight all the data that is significant to your hypothesis. You do not need to list every piece of data you have collected because not all the data will be relevant.

All you need to focus on here is to report the data that either proves or disproves your hypothesis in the form of three distinct parts: text, tables and figures. All results sections will start with a brief text description that clearly states the facts of the data. However, be sure not to add so much text that it becomes analytical; you can save that for the next section. In your brief text descriptions, you will want to point out what your data shows in your tables and figures. You may also want to acknowledge and state trends that arise in your data.

Next, you will want to include your tables that show the trends in your data. As a general rule, you will only want to use tables if you have any variation in your data. If you have relatively unchanging variables, a table will not be the effective medium to display your data. You also will want to be sure to give your table a relevant name and have the reader see the data vertically rather than horizontally.

Finally, you will conclude your results section by showing your readers a figure that demonstrates what happened to your independent and dependent variables as you carried out your experiment. Depending upon the subject matter, you can include pie charts, bar graphs, flow charts, maps or photographs in this section. Do note, however, that proper lab report format for undergraduates and industry professionals will be a line graph.

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Section Five: Discussion

Finally, to conclude your lab report you will need to detail your findings and determine whether your hypothesis was supported by your experiment. There are five goals that need to be accomplished with this section, which include:

  • Explaining whether the data proved your hypothesis
  • Mentioning and interpreting any data that deviated from what you expected
  • Detailing reasonable conclusions about the subject matter that you studied
  • If applicable, relating your research to earlier work in the same field
  • Discussing the practical and theoretical implications of your findings

Most discussion sections will begin with explaining how your data either supported or denied your hypothesis. From there, you will need to make explicit statements that explain how your experiment either supported or denied your hypothesis. Your lab report should be able to support a reasonable and justifiable claim based upon the results of your experiments, so be sure that you are very clear and concise in your wording here.

It is important to note that this section will have the most variability from a standard lab report format. It should be tailored to your specific subject matter and subsequent results as long as it meets the above requirements and goals.

Putting It All Together

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Writing out a lab report can be the most difficult part of any experiment, but now that you know the proper steps and format you will be able to earn that A+ you deserve. Due remember to always follow the proper lab report format that we outlined above and you will be passing all of your science classes with flying colors.

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Why Is Carbon So Important In Biology? Key Element Of Life On Earth

Why is carbon so important in biology? This was a question that we felt deserved an in-depth answer. Carbon, which so many of us take for granted, is actually one of the most important elements to life as we know it. Carbon’s molecular structure gives it the ability to form stable bonds with other elements, including itself, which makes it the central element of organic compounds. It makes up almost 20% of the weight of an organism, and it is essential for them to live, to grow, and to reproduce.

Because of its ability to form these bonds, carbon can create very large and complex molecules called macromolecules that make up living organisms. This is part of why this versatile element is considered the backbone, or basic structural component, of these molecules. Still wondering “Why is carbon so important in biology?” Let’s take a deeper look at what this element is, what it does, and what it is used for, because there is much more to learn about carbon.

What Is Carbon?

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element on earth, and it is a finite resource because it cycles through the earth in so many forms. Without carbon, life as we know it would cease to exist because it is the main element in organic compounds that make up living things. The presence or absence of carbon determines whether an organism is organic or inorganic.

1

The Element

The name for carbon comes from the Latin word ‘carbo’ which means coal. It has the atomic number 6 and uses the symbol C. The 6 represents six electrons and six protons and its placement is in the middle of the periodic table as a representation that it is central to life as we know it. Some refer to carbon as the ‘King of the Elements’ because it is an absolute necessary to life. It has the highest melting point of the pure elements at 3,500 degrees Celsius, and it’s one of the elements that ancient man knew in its pure form.

2

Stable Bonds

Carbon’s molecular structure allows it to form bonds with many elements, itself other carbon elements. Because of this, it can form long chain molecules, each having different properties. Carbon remains in balance with other chemical reactions in the atmosphere and water because of its stability.

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Organic Compounds

Organic compounds make up the cells and other structures of living organisms and they carry out the processes of life. Carbon is the main element of organic compounds we need to live. We group these organic compounds into four types: Carbohydrates (sugars and starches), Lipids (fats and oils), Proteins (enzymes and antibodies), and Nucleic Acids (DNA, RNA). Still wondering why is carbon so important in biology? It’s role in creating living organisms is one of the core reasons we study it.

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How Carbon Moves

Carbon, in its many forms, does not stay still. It moves all around the earth. It can move with respiration, photosynthesis, as a part of food chains, and by burning fuel, just to name a few.

What Is The Carbon Cycle?

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element on earth, and it is a finite resource because it cycles through the earth in so many forms. Without carbon, life as we know it would cease to exist because it is the main element in organic compounds that make up living things. The presence or absence of carbon determines whether an organism is organic or inorganic.

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The Geological Carbon Cycle

The Geological Carbon Cycle is driven by the movements of the earth’s tectonic plates and geological processes such as chemical weathering. The Geological Carbon cycle is how carbon moves between rocks and minerals, seawater, and the atmosphere. It takes place over millions of years.

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The Biological or Physical Carbon Cycle

The Biological or Physical Carbon Cycle is the way carbon cycles through vegetation, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, soil, and in fossil fuel burning. It takes place from days to thousands of years.

Why Is Carbon So Important In Biology?

illustration of a dna gene

image source: pixabay.com

Carbon is important in biology because without it, life itself would not exist. Carbon is important in everyday life for all living beings in order for them to live, grow, and reproduce. Carbon compounds are also very versatile and they are in many objects we use every day. Remember, the presence of carbon determines whether something is organic or inorganic.

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Carbon And The Human Body

Sugars, DNA, proteins, fats, pretty much everything except water contains carbon in the human body. If you have heard it said water makes up most of the human body, then it would also be correct to say carbon makes up most of the other parts. This is another great example of an answer to the question “Why is carbon so important in biology?”

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Photosynthesis And Respiration

The human body inhales oxygen from the atmosphere and when it combines with carbon, it creates carbon dioxide. The body does not need carbon dioxide so we exhale it when we breathe. Plants are the exact opposite. They take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and give off oxygen back into the atmosphere for us to breathe. All the carbon in your body once existed in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

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Inorganic Compounds

ember from the heated wood

image source: pixabay.com

Many things we use are made of carbon. Rubber, plastics, gasoline, natural gas, are just a few examples. Also, coal and diamonds are made up of mostly carbon, and graphite, which gives pencil lead its black color, is pure carbon. Whenever a fire is burned, the black soot that results is a form of carbon.

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Abundance In Nature

Carbon is found in different forms in all living beings on earth. Carbon is not only found in abundance on the earth, but the sun and the stars also contain carbon. Carbon also exists on many planets in the form of carbon dioxide.

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Factors That Affect Carbon In The Atmosphere

There are many factors that affect the global concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, including seasons and human activities like carbon dioxide emissions. Environmental scientists and policy makers seek to understand these factors so they can try to pass regulations to offset negative impacts to the atmosphere.

How We Use Carbon

Allotropes are materials made from the same element, but their atoms fit together differently. Carbon exists on earth in three different allotropes: amorphous, graphite, and diamond. Almost every industry on the planet uses some form of carbon in their every day operations, and we highlight a few of those here.

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Fuel

We use carbon for fuel in the form of coal, methane gas, petroleum, natural gas, and crude oil. There have also been some exciting breakthroughs by researchers as they have discovered how to take carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into fuel. This could mean a more environmentally friendly fuel for the world.

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Graphite

Graphite is pure carbon, and we use it for pencil tips, and one mechanical pencil lead of 0.7mm, has about 2 million layers of Graphene. It is also used as a lubricant, for high temperature crucibles, and electrodes. One form of graphite, called Graphene, is the thinnest strongest material ever known.

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Materials

ink printers

image source: pixabay.com

Carbon can form alloys with iron which makes carbon steel. We also find it in rubber, plastic, wood, and black pigment in ink used for printers or painting.

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Diamonds

Diamonds are used to make jewelry, but because they are so hard that we also use them for cutting, drilling, grinding, and polishing. You can purchase many items such as cutting wheels that feature small diamonds on the edge for better cutting capabilities.

Conclusion

co2 written on a blackboard

image source: pixabay.com

Here we have answered the question “why is carbon so important in biology?” and in doing so, we have discovered many interesting facts about this element. The first and most important is that we could not live if carbon did not exist. Every organic compound is built around this essential element and we need it for life as we know it. The presence or absence of this element determines whether something is organic or inorganic.

Another answer for the question “why is carbon so important in biology?” is that this element exists everywhere on earth. As the fourth most abundant element, not just on earth, but in the universe, it will forever be a part of our existence. It is interesting to note that more compounds exist that contain carbon than those that don’t, and this is something for which we should be grateful.

Why is carbon so important in biology? It’s not just one, but many reasons why it’s so important, many of which we have listed here in our article. Carbon allows us to exist and it is in many of the things we use every day to build, create, and produce energy. Essential for life and useful, no wonder we call it the building block of life.

How To Become A Marine Biologist: Your Path To A Career Among The Waves

Maybe you grew up wading knee-deep in streams catching crawfish and you want your children to have the opportunity to do the same. Or, you have been dreaming of touching the ocean for the first time and hoping to spot a dolphin. Either way, you may also be wondering how to become a marine biologist.

How to Become a Marine Biologist

It seems you are well on your way to figuring out how to become a marine biologist. The first step is to simply get excited about all the little, or big, creatures that live in the water near you. Taking an interest in your own local water creatures will help you strengthen the skills needed to become a marine biologist.

After you have played with the tadpoles and waded in tidepools, it is time to start thinking of schooling. While classes can be slightly specialized in high school, consider choosing a college with a renowned biology degree that is near a body of water you are particularly interested in. With this, make sure to volunteer with local efforts to keep waterways clean and visit a few aquariums to expand your breadth of knowledge.

So, after persuing your undergraduate degree in marine biology, look for internships that will get you hands-on experience working in the field. These can range from doing research on ocean vessels to working at your local aquarium or river shed. This will get you the much-needed experience for starting your career or a great base for grad school.

What Does a Marine Biologist Do?

If you are wondering how to become a marine biologist, you probably know many things that they do. While training dolphins and working with whales are some of their most known duties, jobs with those aspects are few and far between. Marine biologists actually can be considered anyone who works or studies anything that is alive and lives in water.

Marine biologists actually deal quite a bit with things outside of fish, plankton, and sharks. They need to understand the chemistry of the water, the oceanography of their body of water, and the environmental impact of humans and other animals in the same space.

As you can see, marine biologists need to be well versed in all of the sciences in order to succeed. Keep that in mind as you are considering how to become a marine biologist.

So You Want to Be a Marine Biologist

We’ve got you hooked on being a marine biologist now. That’s good! Keep in mind that this means you could be collecting samples for a government study, managing a fishery, or even teaching classes at a local university.

If you are hoping to begin getting connected with organizations and other marine biologists, consider the following organizations. It is never too early to start networking for future projects, jobs, or studies.

The Association for Zoos and Aquariums is a wonderful organization for finding internships where you will get exposure to a plethora of types of land and water animals. This can be a great starting point for you.

If you are more interested in fish and rivers, consider the American Fisheries Society. They have annual papers and conferences that can help you stay on the cutting edge of marine biology.

Lastly, the Society of Marine Mammology is ready to press on into the future of marine biology. With a focus on aquatic animals and conservation, this is an exceptional organization to watch and learn from as you consider how to become a marine biologist.

Focus Your High School Studies

Each step of your journey towards becoming a marine biologist needs to keep the end in mind. Your future employer will be looking at your college degree, internships, and extracurriculars. But, your college or university program will be looking at your high school grades and the clubs you participated in.

So, you can see how each step of the process influences the next step. With this, you will need to focus your high school classes as much as you can. This means focusing on chemistry. biology, geology, and mathematics.

However, the more important element to focus on is your club involvement and volunteering. This will show your consistent dedication and interest in rivers, oceans, conservation, animals, fish, and other wildlife. This, in turn, will preempt your education with hands-on experience and a network to support you as you head of to college.

Take advantage of opportunities nearby

There are vast opportunities to pique your interest in marine biology. In your local town, there are probably a few organizations that are cleaning up local waterways as well as keeping tabs on the health of local wildlife. Consider joining in the efforts there.

If you have your eyes on a further prize, think about joining an ocean clean up volunteer squad. This could take you anywhere from simple beach clean-ups to helping divers clean up reef or local shores. With that, if you have the opportunity to become a certified diver, that is an excellent step to showing your interest in becoming a marine biologist.

Choosing a University

There are more universities than you can count these days. As you are figuring out how to become a marine biologist, this may seem like a daunting task. However, we will walk through a few ways to help you narrow down your list.

First off, be realistic with your grades, SAT scores, ACT scores, and desires. Pick schools that will accept your scores and grades. If you would like, apply to one school that will be a stretch. If you get it, then you will be ecstatic.

Next, look at the ratings of the biology and marine biology departments at these schools. Are the professors doing studies and writing books that you are interested in? Also, what types of hands-on learning and programs do they have?

You cannot dismiss cost as a limiter when applying for college these days. College debt will be incredibly difficult to work through later down the line, so minimize as much as you can now. This may mean going to an in-state school or attending community college for two years before transferring to a four-year university.

Location, location, location is our last tip for you. If you are hoping to work in the ocean one day, make sure your university is on the beach! If there is a particular aquarium or river you are hoping to see, look for schools near there first. This is all part of you making your own road map to success in becoming a marine biologist.

How to become a marine biologist: The right classes

Majoring in biology or marine biology will definitely help you attain your career goals. However, you do not necessarily have to major in one of these to succeed. Other sciences or math classes and degrees will give you a unique background that can help you stand out as a potential job applicant.

Consider taking classes in molecular biology, oceanography, plant ecology, or other classes that could support your future marine biology adventures. Having more experience in other areas will help you gain report with other professionals in the field, as well as give you a well-rounded education.

Internships: All About This Next Step

Internships are a crucial part of figuring out how to become a marine biologist. They allow you to work closely with marine biologists, gain experience, and decipher a bit more about what type of work you would like your career to focus on.

During the school year and the summer in between is the time to pad your resume with your biology experience. Consider some ocean specific internships where you can do hands-on research in the field. There is also a multitude of labs associated with schools that you can work at.

With this, diversity is respected in a resume. So, consider going to a different school for the summer internship than the one you attend. While it will be a little more work to figure out the logistics of it, it will be worth it to gain a more diverse experience.

Do I Need to Go to Graduate School?

Graduate school is a focused education that usually costs quite a pretty penny. However, many jobs in the field will require you to do this. A master’s degree will give you the chance to hone in your expertise on a specific subject.

With this in mind, you will want to know what to specialize in before you commit the time and money to a graduate degree. If you are still figuring out how to become a marine biologist, consider postponing graduate school until you have worked in the field for a few years.

This allows you to know what you want to study more specifically. It also opens up the potential for an employer to help sponsor your schooling. If you make it through a master’s degree and have thrived during it, consider a PhD.

A PhD requires just a few more classes than a master. However, the big difference is writing and defending a dissertation. But, remember that you will most likely be doing many research projects as a marine biologist, which lends itself well to a dissertation.

Choosing your masters and PhD

So, you are considering adding a master’s degree as you figure out how to become a marine biologist. There are many schools offering masters in this field. It is no surprise that Florida and California are the two main hubs for these degrees throughout the country.

Master’s degrees vary in their concentration. You can study Fishery and Ocean Science, Oceanography, or Conservation Biology. If those do not pique your interest, there is also Zoology, Tropical Conservation Biology, Estuary Science, Vertebrate Biology, or even Aquatic Resources.

Each of these programs will equip you differently for your career. Similar to applying to a four-year university, consider the professors, papers, and work that is put out of the institution. This will help you decide if you would like to join and learn from them.

Landing the Job as a Marine Biologist

Getting your first job can be thrilling but also intimating and difficult. You need the right balance of experience, references, and networks to do this. So, how do you become a marine biologist in today’s world?

First off, your resume is a representation of you. It needs to be polished, well written, and stand out. If you have a mentor in the field or even a good friend, have them look at your resume for spelling errors and wording choice.

You will want to use industry-specific words and quantitative data to show your skills. If you have done research, make sure to write how much you did, how you took samples, and more like that. While you do not want your resume to be overwhelming, do try and show your full arc of interest in marine biology.

Your cover letter should be specific to the job you are applying for as well. If you know someone at the company, ask them if you can elegantly reference them in your cover letter. This will go a long way in landing a job as a marine biologist.

Finally, nailing the interview is your last step in figuring out how to become a marine biologist. The most important part of the interview is to be yourself while staying assertive and informed. Make sure to do research on the institution you are speaking with beforehand.

Write down a few questions you would like to ask them before you go so that you are ready to see if it would be a good work environment for you. Hopefully, with each of these steps, you will be able to succeed in securing your first job. Then, you will truly be a marine biologist.

Setting your expectations: Salary and more

During the interview process, you may be asked what salary or benefits you would like. If possible, you always want your potential employer to be the first to give a number of a salary. This way, you can negotiate up from there.

So, how much does a marine biologist make? While it does vary greatly from state to state and based on experience, you can expect to start between 45,000 and 70,000 dollars, depending on the local economy and cost of living.

Most marine biologists should be able to do nine to five hours, but depending on the work you may need to vary those. If you are collecting samples, you may have some long days out on a boat or have to collect at odd hours. In addition, there may be other opportunities for travel to unique destinations and annual conferences.

With all of this, it is important to remember there will be plenty of work inside at the computer and lab as well. Most marine biologists will spend quite a bit of time running data and writing reports. So, do not expect to be outside all day, every day if you become a marine biologist.

Now You Know How to Become a Marine Biologist

You now know the path. Enjoy the ride. Remember, start by focusing on your local water sources, organizations, and volunteer efforts.

This will first conjure up a love for all things wet and watery. A passion for the outdoors and wildlife is essential to being a marine biologist. Once you have that, then get your education lined up.

Whether your dream is to help save the whales, protect our oceans, track salmon populations, or find cures for diseases in the natural world, marine biology is full of opportunities. The vast amount of water in our world means that there will always be a good amount of jobs in this field.

Are you a marine biologist, or considering pursuing this as your career? What were the most helpful tips that people gave you? We would love to start that conversation below in the comments.

So, now that you know how to become a marine biologist, we wish you the best. Pursue it with passion, vigor, and intelligence and you are sure to succeed.