Question to all Biology professionals

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Question to all Biology professionals

Post by lapshin » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:39 am

Hi all,

I'm just looking for some input on my situation here. I'm currently a biology major, working full time and taking classes part time. I plan on a career in biology, albeit not 100% sure at this point in which discipline.
But here is my dilemma. While I do ok in math courses, the biggest problem for me is with things like optimization problems, related rates, basically all word problems. Anything where you have to convert a word problem into workable formulas and such, is like walking into a brick wall for me. The rest of math is ok, but this is where I really run into trouble.

Now, my questions is this. Considering how much of all science is based on mathematics, is a career in biology, or in related fields, a dim prospect for someone with a problematic relationship with math? Will I be able to get by on not being Einstein in mathematics while working in biology, or should I contemplate a different career?
Thank you all ahead of time for your input!

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Post by mith » Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:31 pm

Take a class that focuses on this stuff. For example I'm taking a physical chemistry class that is all about converting things you want to measure into things you can measure example--entropy of a stretching polymer as related to temperature, and tension.

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Re: Question to all Biology professionals

Post by jonmoulton » Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:53 pm

I agree. The best way to sharpen your skills in translating word problems to mathematical form is to work those skills hard. I agree with Mith that chemistry is a great training ground for that skill set, as is physics. Also, a chemistry degree would make you more immediately employable than a biology degree. I finished a BS Bio and a BA Chem then went looking for work in biology -- and found nothing. A month later I broadened the search into chemistry and quickly found job offers. I tell this story to show that there is more potential benefit to squeezing in some chemistry classes than just the sharpening of your quantitative skills. A chem minor, or a chem double major with biology, or even a separate chemistry degree can translate into easier job searches (and higher income). I ended up back in school for a doctorate in biology and found the foundation of the chemistry degree very valuable. After graduation I taught both chem and bio at a university, then moved into industry. Though I work primarily in molecular biology, my chem background is helpful every day. Developing those skills is not a waste of time!

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