Biochemistry

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Major in Biochemistry

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

            “I stand in awe of God because of what he has done through his creation. Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.”  ~James M. Tour; organic chemist

Biochemistry, at its core, is the study of living systems at the molecular level.  As its name implies, Biochemistry links biology and chemistry and looks at the chemical basis for life.  It seeks to understand the cellular components and interactions of living things and is interested in the chemical processes that allow organism growth, cellular repair and reproduction. To choose a major in Biochemistry is to begin down any number of career paths, from medicine to manufacturing to research to education. How important and helpful to gain an education in this field from a Christian perspective, where our all-powerful God receives the credit due Him for creating, sustaining and holding all things together by His powerful word!

Those who get excited about subjects such as DNA, chemical reactions and the human genome project may end up as Biochemistry Majors. These individuals tend to have an innate mathematical wiring and enjoy conducting scientific experiments. Biochemistry majors are inquisitive, with a passion for discovery and understanding how things work. They are not afraid of deep analyzation and asking the tough questions necessary for honest scientific thought. Beyond this, a Biochemistry major needs other important skills and traits as well. For example, it is helpful to have critical thinking skills, a sharp memory and a detail-oriented mind. A Biochemistry degree requires plenty of research, experiment design, hypotheses formulation and assessment, technical reading and report writing, and careful lab work. Though it is true that Biochemistry majors must sometimes work independently, you will also encounter plenty of collaborative opportunities (such as working with lab partners, and team research projects) where strong communication and people skills are a must.

Physics and upper level math classes are par for the course in this rigorous major. In addition, you can expect lots of hands-on learning as you conduct research in the lab. Depending upon your program, it’s possible you may write a senior thesis or participate in an internship. Standard classes you may take include:

  • Analytic, Organic and Inorganic Chemistry  
  • Microbiology
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics 

Unlike some majors, a Biochemistry graduate does not follow a well-defined career path. Rather, this major offers a strong foundation of knowledge and a plethora of transferrable skills useful in many work settings. Many Biochemistry majors go on for graduate level learning in areas such as medicine or pharmacology or pursue careers in research or other specialized fields of such as chemical engineering. However, there’s a wide range of career outcomes for those who delay or forgo a master’s degree. Some examples are:     

  • Science Technician (in a medical, vet, pharmacy, forensics or chemistry lab)
  • Toxicologist
  • Research assistant
  • Environmental specialist
  • Postsecondary Biology Teacher (requires additional teaching certificate)
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Someday we will all give an account to God for what we did with what He gave us. If He has gifted you with an analytical, scientific mind or feel ready to make a contribution in one of the exciting new biotechnology jobs emerging every year, then a major in Biochemistry may be the perfect fit for you!

A Future in Chemistry

By Amber Gragert

In the 1600's a brilliant man by the name of Johann Joachim Becher said of his profession, "The chemists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasures amid smoke and vapor, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I were to change places with the Persian king.”

If you too have an affinity for the sciences and like to find answers to fundamental questions like, “How?” and “Why?” and just need to know bare bone basics of how substances are made, then chemistry is a major well suited for you.

According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, chemistry is “a science that deals with the structure and properties of substances and with the changes they go through: the structure and properties of a substance: the way a substance changes and reacts with other substances.” As a chemistry major, you will study topics like the chemical make up for life and how chemicals affect and/or create problems in the environment. You will look at an object at an atomic level to find out what it is made of and how it behaves.

Chemistry is at the core of your studies so you will study compounds under a microscope, write lab reports and spend ample time in a laboratory creating chemical reactions. This will all be accomplished through courses like general chemistry and organic chemistry in addition to other courses like biology, mathematics and physics.

With a chemistry major, you could work towards a career in chemistry, of course, but a large number of students also use this major as they pursue the medical and dental fields. Lab time as a chemistry major sharpens and showcases your ability to work with your hands and your quick and creative problem-solving skills – all of which medical communities find of great value and importance.

Some key traits chemists tend to have in common are analytical thinking and abstract thought processes but also find logical conclusions and solutions. They are also task oriented, have a desire for knowledge, and have a curious and inquisitive mind.

Career examples:

•  Analytical Chemist

•  Applied Research

•  Product Developer

•  Chemical Engineer

•  Healthcare Scientist

•  Biochemistry

•  Forensic Scientist

•  Formulation Chemist

•  Laboratory Technician

•  Pharmacologist

•  Registered Nurse

•  Social Impact Activist

•  Toxicologist