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Microbiology, Biological Sciences, (x)

About microscopic forms of life, including Bacteria, Archea, protozoans, algae and fungi. Topics relating to viruses, viroids and prions also belong here.

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Microbiology, Biological Sciences, (x)

Postby mschristine » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:17 pm

I'm having trouble with deciding what choice of major I should pursue. I've narrowed my choices to those above (but willing to research others, hence the (x)) and am simply at a loss as to which one will best lead me to an ideal career (which may also change).

Currently I'm interested in a career that would deal with learning about human diseases and their causes. That's why I'm considering a major in Microbiology. I guess my problem really lies with not having a good sense of what a major in Biological Sciences or another can do for me. I'm assuming Biological Sciences is simply more general than Microbiology. When would it be better to major in the former or latter?

I've been researching careers and am still trying to get a real understanding of how the following are distinguished from each other: Biological Scientist, Medical Researcher, Biomedical Laboratory Researcher. Perhaps a single major can lead me to all of these careers?

Please, any thoughts or advice are appreciated in helping me decide or simply get a better feel for the majors/careers I am looking into. Thank you.
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Postby MrMistery » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:38 pm

if you want to learn about human disease i suggest a major in something more human related - molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry etc are all good topics, if your college offers them as majors. You can also take a couple of elective microbiology courses if you are interested in the interaction between the pathogens and humans, but i definitely think that a major in molecular or cell biology is better than one in microbiology if you want to study the pathogen-human interface. also, i think biological sciences is a bad choice, since they will have you learn random things like taxonomy, ecology and human anatomy, which you don't really need.
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Re: Microbiology, Biological Sciences, (x)

Postby mschristine » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:14 am

Thank you very much for the help. However, there is one thing in particular that I am concerned about, and that is that I didn't have a good chemistry teacher, so I practically have no base in the subject. I looked a little more into your suggestions and they all seem interesting. At one of the colleges I'm considering biochemistry and molecular biology are one major. I don't know if that's a normal thing, but it's def high on my list now. In your opinion how much, if any, knowledge of chemistry should I know when going off to college? And how heavy or in depth is the chemistry if I was to pursue any of those majors?
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Postby MrMistery » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:07 am

it's pretty common to have a common biochemistry&molecular biology major, and not a bad thing.

I would say you don't need to know chemistry when you are going to college. hell, the whole point of this liberal arts system - you don't need to have your mind made up when entering college. You will probably need to take an extra intro course that will get in shape, but one course never killed anyone. And most colleges will only require 2-4 chemistry courses as part of a molecular biology major, so it's not that much chemistry. However, even if your major doesn't require it, i would recommend that you take at least 2 semesters of organic chemistry, one semester of inorganic, one semester of physical chemistry (for the big picture) and maybe one or two more specialized courses like structure of proteins or the like. The more chemistry you know, the better. cutting edge biology involves a lot of chemistry.
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Postby mschristine » Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:24 pm

Ok, thanks for the help man.
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Re: Microbiology, Biological Sciences, (x)

Postby Sepals » Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:29 pm

I thought I got this job because I emphasised the relevant experience I got on my MSc (in microbiology), but most people at my workplace had not specialised in the subject. So it turns out it's not that important for working here. It technically doesn’t matter what your degree is called, but what’s covered in it. In applications this is what you need to detail. Jobs in biology involve training and employers are looking for people of a certain aptitude, and I think at my place this is valued over experience.

I don't think you should worry about what to major in yet, whether you should specialise will come to you naturally by deciding if that's where your interest lies and if that's the area you want to work in afterwards during your studies.

I was advised not to rename my BSc from biological sciences to microbiology but chose to anyway. It doesn't make a difference for me. Most jobs in biology are in microbiology (a close second is biomedical science) and I'm quite passionate about my field so I don't feel I'm missing out by not being able to apply for jobs in other areas of biology.

But in the end it's all individual. This is my first job in my field after leaving uni and the job market has been hit so hard, that it's hard for me to give a general perspective, just my own.
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Postby MrMistery » Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:13 pm

yeah, i am noticing that too. at my college there is a molecular and cellular biology major and then there's a chemical and physical biology major. it seems to me that it doesn't make much of a difference...
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