Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Biochemistry?

I'm back.

I want to go through why I chose to study biochemistry, and to pursue it into the future. But to do that we must go back, back, back, in to a simpler time. A time when things were simpler. The pace of life moved a bit slower. People dressed a little differently.


Figure 1: 2004 Fashion. From Apropos of Something

Back then, a 12th grade high schooler facing the daunting task of selecting the route of my post-secondary education, I had a good idea what school I would be going to for university, but little clue what for. My interest in science went back to grade 2, where I was put on the spot to say what my favorite subject and replied "science" (remembering a recent super-cool demonstration involving milk, soap, and food colouring). However, science alone is not as specific a subject as it may seem to a 7-year-old. When university loomed and choices presented themselves, I found that I must decide between biology, physics, or chemistry, or something that falls somewhere in between (think chemical physics, molecular biology, and quantum ecology).

Being...ahem....a rock nerd at the time,

Figure 2: Rocks are pretty. From tourist_on_earth

I thought that geology - no, geochemistry - might be an appropriate career choice. But so I didn't sound so crazy, I tacked on biochemistry as something similar I may also be interested in. At that time, in one of the most misled moments of my life, I thought the TCA cycle was interesting. Then:

Dad: "It's a lot easier to find a job in biochemistry"

And my decision was effectively made for me.

5 years later, I have an undergraduate degree in the subject, and pretty intricate familiarity with it. Did I make the right choice? Yes and no.

I made a right choice, though i'm sure others would have led me places just as interesting, and carried me on just as far. I couldn't have known at the time that years later I would remain interested in the subject, but I am. I had little idea what biochemistry, or any other sciences (including geochemistry) was actually like. I suspect many others finish high school in a similar situation. However, my choice was a good one. I don't doubt that I would find a niche in any of several other areas, but the one I have is just right for me.

Choices are inevitable, and sometimes lead where you can't know you're going. The trick is to adapt, to learn, and to be happy with wherever you end up.

Did I think that I would enjoy study in biochemistry? I had no idea.
Did I know anything about the subject? None at all.
Am I happy with where my education has taken me? Absolutely.
Might I have been happy in a different discipline? Probably.

Yet here I am. Ready to move on, open a new chapter of my life, and close some more doors as I go. As they shut, the path ahead becomes a little narrower, a little clearer. While those doors don't open again, the ones I walk through take me on. On to new places, new experiences, and new opportunities. I can't wait.

Figure 3: Being forced to make choices is a good thing. From Mikael Miettinen

1 comment:

Greg Baute said...

Reminds me of a time when asked to draw our selves doing our dream job i simply drew my self in a lab coat and labeled it 'sceintist'. I remember thinking that i really had no idea what a scientist is or does. I just knew it was better then kyles picture of himself as a truck driver.

I went into science on the same line of thought. I really think that,unless you are a child genius you should start in a general and then figure out what you want to do AFTER you understand what your options are.