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A confused undergraduate

  1. Feb 26, 2009 #1
    Hi all! As you can see from the title that I am a confused undergrad who does not know what to do for his degree and career.
    Okay, so right now I am in my second year of university, working towards a major in biology and a minor in nanoscience.
    At the beginning I had my sight sent on becoming a medical doctor, but recently I began thinking about research as an option. I am not very fond of research in biology. Its ironic that I am majoring in biology, but the medical schools has some recommended courses that i should take. Now, I am thinking of majoring in astrophysics or physics with my minor in nano and bio (since i already have most the biology courses done). So what kind of jobs (besides from the obvious, researching) can I get with astrophysics and physics? Are there any jobs with these degrees that are hands on, something to do with technology (along the lines of using models to create/improve technology). Or is that a completely different degree, like engineering?
    Money is not a great motivating force for me. The idea of creating/finding/doing something new intrigues me very much.
    Which way should I go?? :confused:
    Any thoughts and ideas are welcome!
    Thanks for taking the time to read this!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2009 #2

    Chi Meson

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    If you want to actually do and create and fix and build, you are talking about engineering. Physics and Astrophysics, as fields of study, or primarily research requiring employment by universities.

    I am of course talking generalities here. With a degree in Physics, any company will recognize that you are a smart and/or hard working person.
  4. Feb 26, 2009 #3
    Thanks Chi Meson. I am starting to think about changing my major to physics by reading some of the threads posted. But, I still have to take into account of the job market.
    Like you said, some physicists were hired by companies to do engineering jobs and so forth, but some people claim that they cannot get a job at all and that companies require an engineering degree.
  5. Feb 27, 2009 #4
    If you enjoy building things and want to easily find a job, I recommend either electrical, civil or mechanical engineering.

    People are always going to have a reliance on power, technology, roads, bridges etc.., so those are very good options.
  6. Feb 27, 2009 #5
    Well, right now I am thinking of switching to engineering, but since I have already completed two years in biology, I might go into physics instead. (A lot more transferable courses)
    I looked around the Canadian universities ( I live in Canada) and found out that I can complete my B.Sc with min. B or B+ average and apply for masters in mechanical engineering. I'm still not sure about this process though.
  7. Feb 28, 2009 #6
    Why do you think medical school wouldn't be a good option for pursuing a career in research? Many med schools offer a combined MD/Ph.D program. The medical school in my town (UT Southwestern) has four Nobel laureates on their faculty.

    Medical physics could also be an option. You would need to get an M.S. or a Ph.D through a medical physics program after getting your B.S. in physics.
  8. Feb 28, 2009 #7
    Well, I never said that medical research was not a good option, I actually considered that when I was planning to go into medicine. But now, I am thinking about a career without medicine involved.
    I guess I can say that my specialty is in mathematics. I have been doing an abnormal amount of math every since grade 2; usually surpass my class in terms of what we learn. I went into biological sciences/medicine mainly because I was sick of doing so much math. Now I realize that I should have went into engineering or physics since I like the science and I can do well in the math.
    To be honest, I have never heard of medical physics until I browsed through this forum! That could an option for me.
    Thanks for the idea, Brain_C!
  9. Mar 2, 2009 #8
    Doublemint, I kind of side with you about research in biology. Just out of curiosity, why are you not fond of it? Why do you not want career with medicine involved? I understand you have a heavy mathematical background (me too) so how does that make you think about medicine/biology?
  10. Mar 2, 2009 #9


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    doublemint - one issue with Canada is that it is a very heavily regulated market.
    Almost all engineering jobs require a PEng - which requires an engineering degree. Also many management jobs (especially in the public sector) require a certified professional (ie a PEng) above a certain grade.
    This is a bit annoying, when you a have a team of PhD physicists or chemists whose boss is a lowly engineer because physics an chemistry aren't registered professions.

    Otherwise I would have said take physics - the number of engineering type jobs with a physics degree can be much more varied because companies (especially consultancy) hire smart people, whereas engineering jobs can be much more pigeon holed.
  11. Mar 2, 2009 #10
    Well, ZPlayer, there are multiple factors playing into my thoughts about biology. Most of the material we cover in lecture seem very boring to me. When I go to my lab sections for the course, all we do is breed bacterial cultures, measure enzyme activity ( just did this today) and ecological effects on bugs. I know that the research field is not completely identical to the labs i do, but similar. I just do not see myself in a lab plating bacteria and measuring absorbance levels or going out to the forest and documenting ecological life which most researchers are doing anyways. But I mean, other research going into neurology and similar fields would not bother me as much because that is part medicine.
    With a heavy background in math, people just tell me "why not just go into something you can already do well in?"
    As for medicine, I do like it, although I never had any experience in it since I can not take any medical science course yet. But what concerns me is that the vast amount of knowledge that must be taken in. Especially when you are a doctor. (My dad doesn't think I can make it into medicine..) It might sound that I am lazy, but I do put in the work to do well and to get where i want to go.
    Another thing is that my parents want me to get a job right after i graduate and I don't mean a low-end starting job where i can work my way up the chain, but actually a decent job that I can live on. So a career with medicine will take time.
    For the most part, I want to take part in a field of study that has a potential of rapid grow (engineering/physics - new technology, space (the final frontier :tongue:), medicine - new ways of treatment).

    I see what you mean, scientists are always shafted. Although, I was looking at graduate studies for mechanical engineering. A B.Sc degree is one of the requirements (not specific). They offer M.Sc and M.Eng for graduate studies in mechanical engineering. Are those to degrees equivalent ( job wise )? If not, what are the differences?
    If I switch into engineering, it would have wasted two years (what my parents are constantly telling me). To bad there is no accelerated track for engineering:tongue2:
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  12. Mar 4, 2009 #11
    Why not get into bioinformatics? That's math heavy and your biology background will be useful.
  13. Mar 4, 2009 #12
    ... And at least one of them (Hans Deisenhofer) is a physicist!
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