Melanie has a BS in physical science and is in grad school for analytics and modeling. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.
What is Biology?
Biology is the study of all living things. In fact, the word "biology" comes from the Greek words bios which means "life" and logos which means "study." In short, it's the study of all living things. Biologists study the distribution, evolution, function, growth, origin, structure, and taxonomy of species. We're able to understand how our bodies work, how organisms work, how our cells work. It's the science that tells us everything about what we are.
As you may have guessed, biology is a large area of study. It's so broad that there are entire branches of science within biology. Fields like genetics, agriculture, ecology, virology, and even paleontology are all under this umbrella because they all revolve around the same basic principles of biology.
Why Is Biology Important?
By studying biology, we're able to learn more about ourselves, plants, animals, and much of the world around us. We're also able to learn about diseases, treatments, and vaccines.
With advancements in biological sciences, we're living life much more comfortably than people a hundred years ago.
We're able to tap into our knowledge about different plants and animals we use for food. With biology, we can learn more about the metabolic processes that help us get energy from our food.
Biology helps us understand plants to be used for medicinal purposes and how our bodies react to them.
We're able to learn about human behavior and how we react to each other. With ecology, we can study how we interact with the non-living world around us. With ecology, we're constantly learning how animals use various materials around them and even how they adapt to a changing environment.
How Biology Has Shaped Medicine
Biologists in various fields have shaped the world with their discoveries. Many vaccines have been developed by studying diseases (pathology, a branch of biology, is the study of diseases.) For example, a vaccine for Smallpox, a disease that has been wreaking havoc since around 10,000 BC (and responsible for an astounding 300,000,000+ deaths during the 20th century alone), was developed putting an end to all naturally occurring cases in 1977.
This means that in anyone born after the year of 1977 will never have to worry about the possibility of catching and dying from smallpox. If science can be used to destroy such a prolific killer of men, there is no stopping the progress we can achieve.
Oncology, the study of cancerous processes, is actually a field of both biology and medicine. Oncologists have made leaps and bounds over the years in developing treatments for people suffering from cancer. Scientists in this field may even find a cure for cancer in the not-so-distant future! Already we are seeing changes in the way cancer is treated and it is one of the most funded branches of biology in both the scientific and medical fields.
Advances in Genetics
Another fascinating field of biology is genetics. We've learned why some people have red hair, why some groups of women have higher incidences of breast cancer, and even how two people are related! By studying genetics, we have also found a way to narrow down genes that serve specific purposes.
It is now possible to go have yourself tested for genetic abnormalities responsible for Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. With this information, men and women now have a ‘heads up’ and are able to take proactive action against these diseases. For instance, a woman whose genetic makeup shows that she is highly predisposed to breast cancer may be able to take the opportunity to have a double mastectomy before developing cancer. However, having the genetic makeup for a disease does not guarantee that one will develop it.
© 2012 Melanie Palen
gift on April 21, 2015:
I really love this topic it has helped me in my assignment thank you very much.
dr . karuna sapkota on June 18, 2014:
i found this hub very interesting as it explains about the various sectors of biology and i totally agree with you guys. :)
Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on January 04, 2013:
This is an informative hub. Here is one story how a civil engineer became a doctor through one of the branches of biology.
My classmate John graduated from Fu School of Engineering, Columbia University with a BS in Civil Engineering. He took admission in Bio-engineering with emphasis in biomechanics (artificial structures in human body). From there he qualified for 4 years program in Medicine at Stony Brook and became a doctor.
Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on January 04, 2013:
Thanks for this insightful hub into the science of Biology and its many offshoots. The study of genetics looks like being a key area for the future - unraveling the genetic code and identifying each DNA base will surely open up a world we can only dream about at present. Fascinating. Your hub has touched on the basics and given us glimpses into a complex and wonderfully inspiring world - makes me want to delve deeper.
Melanie Palen (author) from Midwest, USA on January 03, 2013:
@Dr Pooja and Winterfate,
Microbiology has been on the list for some time now. :P
I agree with you that Biology is extremely import (I'm biased, too, of course!) :P
Darrin Perez from Puerto Rico on January 03, 2013:
Great hub melbel! I studied Microbiology itself and have to say that Biology hosts the most important branch of Natural Sciences (in my biased opinion of course). :D
Nothing is more important than life itself!
Also, I second Dr. Pooja's request. :P
Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on May 26, 2012:
Biology is why longevity has increased and people do not panic when some close one falls ill!
Biology is both the history and science of every life form on earth!
Pamela K Conoly from Fort Worth,Tx. on May 25, 2012:
Very nice and informative article,well rounded! We use biology everyday and take it so for granted. Thank you! ;)
Dr Pooja on May 25, 2012:
Nice Hub but please add Microbiology to your list.Microbiology is the study of microbes and includes bacteria,fungi,viruses and parasites.These microbes have importance in both human and animal diseases .In fact even plants can get infected with these microbes.Food microbiology is as important as clinical microbiology.
Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on May 24, 2012:
Good overview of biology Mel. Interesting and yes the study is a fundamental one for all of us biological creatures!!!
Andrew Aballa from Kisumu, Kenya on May 24, 2012:
Nice hub. If I can add to your list you left out three major facets of Biology. That is:
Generally, brilliant work. learnt a lot.
lumberjack on May 24, 2012:
gr8 hub i lov biolegy
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 24, 2012:
Biology was my favorite subject in high school and college. It is one of the few subjects I actually made an A in! The message this sends is dramatic with the pic of the kids that have been vaccinated. The table is an excellent reference. Good job! Voted up and shared!
Mel Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on May 24, 2012:
Great hub. I love biology, specifically molecular biology. Neurobiology is also fascinating to me. Without Biology we wouldn't have a medical field, and then I'd have nothing to read! lol :D
Voted up and shared. Actually, a rather important subject for those who think "I'll never use this in real life, why am I learning it?"
Micheal from United Kingdom on May 24, 2012:
Very useful and interesting hub on all the various fields of biology. Nice to find them all in one place.
The importance of biologhy is fundamental, as without it we wouldn't be here. :}