Hello friend, i'm doing my research in neuroscience. I was looking for someone to collaborate with in this project, so when i saw your thread i decided to contact you. Would you be interested? We can contact each other! Thanks
Thanks for taking interest. The complexity science course I will hopefully be doing is a combined masters then phd. So In the year when I do the masters, the idea is that I choose what kind of study I will be doing for the phd. It could be about almost anything, as long as it has some kind of mathematical basis.
And as far as I can work out, the 'complexity' means that the maths will be for emergent phenomena, computational methods, systems made up of many parts, things like that. So the course is a bit unusual in that it is not specific to any department, but I might be working in any department. It's because of this that I made the thread to see if anyone had done a similar course, or any advice. To be honest, I haven't been accepted to any other phd courses, and this one looks pretty good, so I will probably go for it :)
this time I posted in reverse order so you can read top to bottom :-)
sorry I have been AWOL for quite a while ... holidays at both my family and my fiancee's, then she was off to Ghana for a while and I've been taking care of getting her grad school apps in.
That's cool about the neuro / biophysics stuff. I'm pretty sure that's what I'll be getting into next year, unless I end up doing something "practical" like taking actuarial exams and getting an insurance / finance job.
as far as going back to do bio stuff: once you graduate, you graduate, so you're not really going to "add on a minor" after the fact. I'd just recommend auditing courses. After you have a doctorate of some sort, nobody really cares what you did for your masters, bachelors, associates, or minors. If sitting in on any level of graduate or undergraduate course helps you out with either personal fulfillment or enlightenment in a field that you might apply whatever you're doing research in, then that's great.
Nobody has ever told me I couldn't audit a course when I asked them nicely in an email or in person (I've audited quite a few courses from Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Franklin and Marshal College, Penn State, and Johns Hopkins). Most of my science and mathematical education has come via auditing from those schools or from watching full courses online via Harvard extension school, MIT free courses, Indian Institute of Technology's science lectures in english, or whatever I can find on youtube.
I think I have narrowed down the area I would like to start doing research in next year when Debra and I go off to our grad programs (we'll know where we're going by March). I'm looking at getting into programming and algorithm development for simulating physical biochemistry phenomena in the nervous system.
Just so you have an idea of the prerequisite stuff I have learned to prep me for grad school in biophysics (stuff in bold is what I think is most important):
Bio stuff: well I was in med school for a year and a half, ya know, at one point you read my post on "who wants to become a mathematician". All I took in undergrad 4 credits of freshman bio with lab and 4 credits of microbiology with lab.
chem stuff: got AP credit for general chemistry, 6 credits of organic chem (no lab), 4 credits of physical chemistry with lab.
physics: 9 credits (3 semesters) of calc based physics (no lab) and a i 3 credit intro to modern physics. Since undergrad, I've audited and/or read on my own thermo/statistical mechanics, E&M (from Griffiths book), and intro quantum (also from Griffiths book).
Math stuff: well undergrad I had diff equ, multivariable, linear algebra, and a course in Dynamics and Bifurcations (grad lvl course) we used the prof's book : Kocak (with the same title as the course). I audited algebra, topology, analysis, and geometry from various schools since withdrawing from med school.
computer stuff: took a single semester java class in college. I've just been building on that since and learning a bit more about different languages and algorithm development and discrete math since. I figure this is my biggest weakness when it comes to jumping into graduate level research with some prof.
anyway, hope all is going well, but yeah, those are the skills I feel have prepared me for getting into biophysics ... I'm still working my way through the book "Biophysics" by Glaser, and I'm hoping to be done with it by the time fall 2012 semester comes.
***read these in reverse order I guess ... since I had to copy and paste it into a bunch of messages, sorry***
Good luck with figuring everything out ... theoretical / math physics is quite difficult and offers very few jobs vs how many people finish PhDs in the field. It's so unfortunate because the people who do that are, well the 1% of the 1% who get PhDs, hah. But seriously, it's awful that most of them end up as bankers or computer programmers, it's such a detriment to humanity that they can't somehow be sponsored to just collaborate and solve problems together, but instead have to make ends meet by filling a job that nearly anybody could do.
If you're interested in reading a bit in either field, I would recommend J.D. Murray's Mathematical Biology I and II ... as far as I know, the only prerequisite knowledge you'd need to start digging into those books is a course in differential equations. A great intro book in biophysics is by Roland Glaser called Biophysics. Ideally you'd have taken 3-4 courses in biology including cell/molecular bio and maybe even genetics, general and organic chemistry, E&M, thermo/statistical mechanics/physical chemistry, and an intro modern/quantum mechanics class ... but bare minimum to even start reading the book would be a freshman bio course and a full overview intro physics course (like you'd cover by using University Physics by Young and Freedman).
Over the past year, I've actually been gravitating away from mathematical neuroscience and more towards neurological biophysics instead. I have a very well rounded interdisciplinary education (broad undergrad science background + two years of med school), so biophysics is a very nice way to wrap molecular biology, organic-physical chemistry, statistical mechanics, applied mathematics, and stochastic computer modeling all into one nice package.
If you would ever be interested in getting into biophysics, the desired background at most graduate schools I've seen consists of: depth of knowledge equivalent to majoring in one of (cell/molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry, applied mathematics, or physics) and having a minor in one of the others on the list that is on the other spectrum ... for example if you were a biochem major, having a physics or math minor would be desired, or if you were a physics major, having a bio or biochem minor would be desired.
So to answer your question about how much biology / chemistry is needed ... probably not much more than a freshman intro-course in each just so you know the words you're reading when you get to your 2nd year of grad school and start in on a grad-level mathematical biology textbook. The big thing with mathematical biology/neuroscience is that it's mostly mathematical modeling to solve a problem neuroscientists are unable to solve fully with their expertise. After a decade or two of being in the field you might get to the point where your knowledge of neuroscience rivals an undergrad neuro major, but that's expected since mathematical neurology is a branch of applied math after all.