Monday, November 10, 2008

Why they call me crazy

Most people shudder when you say the term "Organic Chemistry". In fact, I just shouted it out loud in a communal study area, which resulted in cries of anguish, weeping, 3 attempts to jump out the nearest window, and one student setting himself on fire. When I tell people that I am taking extra upper-level courses in it "for fun" or, if it needs to be at least partly plausible, for the skill set I gain from the courses, many think me batshit insane. Well, maybe I am.

The weird thing is, for a subject so feared and despised by pre-medical and pre-pharma students, I actually sort of enjoy it. To me, organic chem is in many ways the closest you can get to playing with Lego, yet still earn advanced academic credit for it.

It's problem solving, as in:

I have this compound

And I need to make this one

Using the tools available to me, and some tricky maneuvers that chemists have invented to circumvent problems that biological systems often find when trying to synthesize compounds. If one can't figure it out, it can be downright maddening, but if one is willing to work at it, it can be incredibly rewarding to be able to come up with the right answer.

While I could be taking apiculture (beekeeping) or intro English as a bird course to round out my degree, organic chem is just more fun. I'm glad to have taken it. Perhaps I am nutso.

Whatever they tell you, I am NOT in this to learn to make designer drugs. I am NOT planning on moving to Columbia upon finishing my degree, and putting my skills to use, unhindered by regulatory agencies. And I am certainly NOT hoping to come up with a hallucinogenic dust that will induce irrational fear in citizens of Gotham city in order to take it over and establish my evil empire. Anyone who says otherwise is Batman.


Science Bear said...

I'm actually of a similar line of thought and recently took an additional o-chem course to help round out my background knowledge after switching fields (into molecular bio).

They say we're crazy, I say people like us run the world...

Kasia Stepien said...

I totally hear you on this one. As a Toxicology major, I'm amazed that more organic chem isn't required in my program... it's the Cliff notes to xenobiotic metabolism, and is becoming a good friend of mine. Advanced Orgo, here I come!