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Bioinformatics and Biology

Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.

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Bioinformatics and Biology

Postby Hitomers » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:54 pm

Hello!

I'm new to this site and group and incredibly excited to find a place where I can talk biology and learn from many! Considering that I am restarting my journey in this scientific world, I could really use the help of others in terms of there experience and information.

I am incredibly interested in evolutionary biology and bioinformatics, which I've been told is a computer technology field that is valuable to the biology field (mind you this is what I've been told). Right now I am finishing up my AS degree in Biology/Zoology and am ready to embark on completing my BS and MS for wildlife research + bioinformatics. However after researching I am finding out that getting an MS in Evolutionary Biology may not provide a career that I'm looking for since there's not many opportunities out there unless you have a PHD.

So my question, to all biology enthusiasts and those in the field: for a student looking into biology (preferably evolutionary biology/wildlife research) and bioinformatics, are these realistically attainable and are there available fields where I can use that kind of degree (BS/MS)? Or is it true that only getting a PHD will be useful? Also, is it logical to attain these degrees online and will they be honored/respected? I am having such a tough time with on campus classes, mainly because the lab times are bad with work and a move from Colorado to Nevada may be in future plans.

I've emailed school advisers, curators and this is the first forum I've tried. I could really use any help possible. And also will be using this site for my environmental studies class that starts next week! Thank you to all who read this and any help you may be able to provide. :D
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Postby jwalin » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:09 am

so my answer will be perhaps the first one you will recieve
anyways AS bio is easy i think you will have no problems with them, but to pass the AS you need to be pretty handy with a microscope and a graticule no doubt.
so do pay careful attention to the practical part of the exam or else you can ruin your grades
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Postby jwalin » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:12 am

secondly by doing an MS you can get a job but there's no harm in doing the PHD , you know. it always helps for a jjob or even for research.

wait when i said this i don't completely realise what field or kind of job do you want to do.
if you are planning of something related to observation of forest animals, plants... then an MS can be fine
but then if you are planning of other things i don't know.

if you can be a little more specific it may help you get a better answer.
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Postby Hitomers » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:17 am

Thank you for the reply! You know I'm interested on research, observation and the computer side. Unfortunately I haven't been able to talk to a counselor to really explore the different fields, bur I am very interested in zoology, evolution, genetics and behavior. I feel like just having an associates of science degree is going to help with my bachelors or masters. I'm almost like a child trying to figure out how to get to a goal.
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Postby jwalin » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:40 am

okay so you are also interested in genetics. ;) even i am :)
so lets see
i think then a phd is advisable
or when doing your masters you should take up other courses, of course related to bio. do you understand what i mean by this. people at times from other countries tend to not understand similar sentences.
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Postby jwalin » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:43 am

don't fear a counsellar for he will not gobble you up ;)
another thing you need to be like hands on with practicals if you want to go ahead atleast with genetics.


and another tip.
don't leave this forum. its an excellent one.
and another such forum is mondofacto, but its just starting of and is specifically for people in medicine and then even i don't know much.
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Postby JackBean » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:12 pm

You can go to MS and after you will finnish, you will know better, what you wish to do, what you can do and stuff, so you can more easily decid, whether to go to PhD or not
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

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Postby jwalin » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:12 pm

yeah very true
why are you planning way so ahead from now???
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Re: Bioinformatics and Biology

Postby jonmoulton » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:01 pm

Hitomers,

Have you considered pursuing an engineering degree along with biology? Many of the prerequisites are similar. For instance, I expect you'll need to take some physics for biology -- if you take physics with calculus, you can apply it to both degrees. There are many strategic choices you can make early that will make the double-major path easier (though it is certainly longer and harder than a single major). If you have a taste for mathematics (and I assume you do since you are considering bioinformatics) you can prepare for secure employment with an engineering BS, which is considered a terminal degree (that is, many stop with a BS and go into the workplace). The advantage is that a degree like electrical engineering makes you like gold when working in biology in an industrial or academic setting. While it is a long road, look at the possibility of a double major (or pursuing two degrees simultaneously). I took a BS Bio and a BA Chem; having the broader background was useful in graduate studies and has been very useful in industry.

The fellow in the office next door is a biologist/EE. He is extremely valuable to us, able to (among many other things) fix robotic synthesizers, write transcript sequence analysis software and provide technical support to customers about our products.
Last edited by jonmoulton on Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JackBean » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:04 pm

prerequisites for biology and engineering are similar?
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

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Postby Hitomers » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:07 pm

Because I am 26 and feel like I have fallen behind is why I'm doing so much planning. :( I am only currently finishing my AS degree, payback from the education system for my poor decisions my initial college years. The tough part of all of this is trying to figure out where/how I want to get to my goal. The tough part is doing this when you're 26 and still trying to not only take care of a life you've made for yourself, but continue on an educational path to a career goal.

So really what I'm trying to do is understand the fields of biology that grab my attention, complete my associates of science degree and then find a good platform to continue my education such as on campus classes or online, so that I can get my bachelors in Biology. Since I'm trying to pick up where I left off when I was 20 years old and understanding that industries change with time, I definitely am looking for as much guidance as possible.

jwalin, thank you so much for your advice! When I was 23 I did go to school for veterinary technology and practicals were some of the best if not stressful times for me. I love practicals! So I am definitely not shy about them :)

JackBean, your advice is helpful too! I was reading everywhere that to be a biologist PHD was the best way so it's nice to know that MS isn't a bad evaluation point, so to speak. However I do want to also learn about bioinformatics. Although I keep looking and the only way to learn, it seems, is if you take computer technology as a major or minor. I really hope that's not the case.

I'm also trying to find out if getting your biology degree online makes you a joke in the science world. Because time may only allow me to choose that option, and I really hope that if I get my degree that way, it's still respected and not snubbed.
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Re: Bioinformatics and Biology

Postby jonmoulton » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:10 pm

Hi Jack,

I can only speak from experience at US colleges and universities; this might differ elsewhere.

Engineering requires math, physics, and chemistry, topics usually required for bio as well. General university requirements are usually the same -- some English, some social science, a health course, etc. These are the shared prerequisites that, with some careful early class-planning strategy, can shorten the path to a double major or double degree.
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