When put most simply, studying biochemistry is about investigating the chemistry of biological interactions and processes. However, this definition is far too rudimentary. To study biochemistry can be to study how enzymes can be engineered to increase crop yields or to analyze how small molecules can both cause and cure disease. Let’s face it, even the most eccentric of scientists would not spend decades and decades in the lab working with finicky enzymes and molecules if their work did not have a more profound impact on society. Ultimately, studying biochemistry is about harnessing the power of the millions of life-creating small molecules and enzymes to affect positive change in the world.
While I have grown to immensely enjoy the field, my decision to study biochemistry was driven more by pragmatism than idealism. In my first year of college, I had realized that I was enjoying my introductory chemistry and biology classes nearly equally. When I was trying to determine what major to pursue, I wasn’t sure how to choose between chemistry and biology. I knew that I was most interested in how chemistry relates to living organisms, but also that I didn’t want to spend my life concocting obnoxious mathematical equations to describe electron orbitals (sorry physical chemists). From my introductory biology courses, I knew that I was most interested more in the molecular basis of biology after having to memorize too many phylogenies in my first semester. After realizing that I wouldn’t be happy with just a chemistry or biology major, I decided to pursue a biochemistry major as it allowed to study the aspects of biology and chemistry that I am most interested in, while sparing me frustrations of inorganic chemistry and plant anatomy.
Biochemistry is going to be an integral part of my future career. I hope to obtain a Ph.D. in a biochemically-related field such as molecular biology or chemical biology and to eventually work in industry as a researcher. As such, the experimental and analytical skills that I have gained during my time as a biochemistry major will prove essential to my ability to perform daily tasks, whether they might be operating a lyophilizer or analyzing mass spectra. In pursuing a career in biochemistry, I will be able to continue to learn about one of my favorite topics (the chemistry behind biological interactions and processes) for the rest of my life, while also giving me the opportunity to affect some positive change in the world.
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