Agricultural and food scientists play an important role in maintaining the nation’s food supply. Many work in basic or applied research and development. Basic research seeks to understand the biological and chemical processes by which crops and livestock grow. Applied research uses this knowledge to discover ways to improve the quality, quantity, and safety of agricultural products. Many agricultural and food scientists work with little supervision, forming their own hypotheses and developing research methods accordingly. In addition, they often lead teams of technicians or students who help in their research. Agricultural and food scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution, although many obtain a doctoral degree. Food scientists and technologists and soil and plant scientists typically earn bachelor’s degrees.