Reflection Blog 1: Why Biochem

When someone asks me why I learn in biochemistry, I usually give a basic explanation and say that I study chemistry within the scope of biological systems. I think that this is a working definition, if you want to describe biochemistry in the most basic form, however studying biochemistry is much more complex than this definition allows for. There are many aspects to studying biochemistry. Biochemistry is studying the intersection between biology and chemistry, which can mean how chemical structure impacts biological function, the impacts of the environment, within a biological system, on the chemical interactions, the chemical mechanisms performed within a biological system, and pretty much any other chemical study as it is relevant to biology. It means that as biochemists, we must account for the changes chemistry must undergo to operate within a living system. Biological systems are highly complex and because it would be nearly impossible to understand everything that happens, we must also learn to see patterns and predict functions based on these patterns. As we learn more, we must also change and expand our approaches to understanding these systems and operations.

For me, to study biochemistry means to understand. From the first time, I was exposed to science, I always wanted to know what defined life. I didn’t mean a textbook definition. I wanted to know what separated a collection of atoms from a living organism. I didn’t know biochemistry even existed until my first semester of college, when I was talking to an upperclassman. I chose biochemistry because I thought that, out of all the sciences, it was most likely to help me understand what I wanted to know. In biochemistry, I still feel as though I’ve found my science niche. I love biochemistry because it breaks living systems down to their chemical levels. While I can appreciate both chemistry and biology on their own, biochemistry is what best encompasses my interest from both. It takes the chemical properties and mechanisms and gives them purpose. It takes biological processes and explains the how. Although I didn’t initially join biochemistry for this reason, I think that studying biochemistry also develops a lot of abilities that aren’t as central to just biology or just chemistry. Studying a biological system, there are things we may never be able to observe, so studying them requires critical thinking as well as resilience and adaptability. I enjoy biochemistry because aside from the factual learning, I think I have grown as a student and learned better approaches to dissecting and solving problems.

As I begin to move forward and past my college career, I am aware that some of the factual aspects of biochemistry may not be relevant. I plan to go to dental school, so when I declared a major, I figured that no matter what I chose, most of it wouldn’t be relevant to a dental career, so I might as well pick one that I would enjoy in the meantime. I may not use the mechanisms from organic chemistry and I may not need to know all the steps of the Jak/Stat pathway, but I think that a lot of biochemistry will still be relevant to diagnosis and treatments. Outside of the information, I think that learning how to approach problem solving within a biological system is incredibly useful in any healthcare field. I think that studying biochemistry has also made it easier to adapt in a constantly changing field of study, which is incredibly useful in a constantly changing career field.

I am glad to pursue the study of biochemistry because I think that the struggle and consternation has always proven to be worthwhile.

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