With the spurt of engineering and other professional colleges in the country, the study of life sciences seems to have taken a back seat.

Two decades ago, life science subjects were sought after by the cream of young minds, but today it finds only a few who really desire to unravel the mysteries associated with all living things and the leftovers who have no other place to go. Most of the senior teachers associated with life sciences lament on the quality of students in the current era.

Life science is the study of living things and deals with the scientific study of living organisms such as plants, animals, and human beings. It covers a wide scope of subjects such as botany, zoology, fishing and marine sciences, biotechnology, microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry and pharmacy. Many of the subjects are even interdisciplinary.

The Senior Professor from the Department of Zoology, Andhra University and the current Director of UGC-Academic Staff College, B. Bharatha Lakshmi says that the development of life science subjects showcases the development of a country. “Research on life science is directly linked to the country's development.

Most of the research and development activity is centred round basic sciences and majority of the scientists come from this realm,” she says.

The careers involving life science graduates and post graduates are primarily centred round the territories of teaching, administration and research and development.

“Teachers build societies and so this area needs dedicated and committed experts, which is grossly lacking. All life science students can make a good career in the teaching profession. But over the years the ‘once most respected profession' seems to have lost its sheen. The opportunities in the teaching profession could range from junior colleges to PG Centres to universities,” says Dr. Bharatha Lakshmi.

Till date, a huge number of administrative staff comes from the life science faculties. “Life science graduates and post graduates appear to have an edge over others, when it comes to competitive examinations like the Civil Services or State public service commissions. We still find a large number of IAS, IPS, IFS and Group I officers from this academic arena. Life science students' also play and important role in building a society and protecting and conserving the nature,” says she.

Research and development sector also recruits a good number of researchers and scientists from life science faculties on a regular basis. Life science students can also find good and lucrative research openings in the western countries such as USA and England.

On its own

Fishing and marine sciences appear to have its own say in the area of careers. The field is open from teaching to consultancy and from research to entrepreneurship. There are a number of agencies such as CMFRI, CIFT, FSI and MPEDA that recruit freshers from this area of study.

As entrepreneurs, the field is wide open and one can try his or her hand in emerging areas such as pearl culture, aqua culture, oyster culture, processing plants, hatcheries, testing laboratories and fish culture.

Recognising the emerging trend, there is a proposal by the government to start a central service for the fishing sector.

Students from botany and zoology can also find placements in agencies like Botanical Survey of India and Zoological Survey of India.