The Researcher works at the University and researches various upgrades for your colony. There are 3 main focuses: Combat, Civilian and Technology. Each focus has its own subcategories.
Each new research has its own requirements. Certain buildings need to be at a specific level or higher, certain items are needed, and researches take time. Each research will state what is needed and how long it takes to research. The time is real-world time spent in-game.
The Researcher will not learn new things on their own, you must tell them what to research.