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Choosing a masters degree

  1. Sep 6, 2010 #1
    Hi all,

    I've made a few topics about my future master. Now the time has come for me to really decide and I still don't know. It's either nuclear physics of cellular biophysics. I'm very interested in both of them, but it's a huge decision I'm making and as always with big decisions I'm uncertain what to do.

    My first idea was to pick the most interesting one but obviously that failed, because I think they're both very interesting. I really loved the introductory course on nuclear physics (using Kenneth Krane's book) and also the few biology oriented courses I've had (human physiology, cell biology)

    I want to get into research (who in physics doesn't). Since biophysics is something interdisciplinary and I'm so far the only one with a physics background who has informed about the master, the chance that I'll be able to get a Ph.D. position is greater. But is this a valuable criterion?

    Also the possibilities seem very large from imaging techniques to statistical mechanics.

    What are other good criteria for choosing a master? What made you choose for a certain path in physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2010 #2
    Really nobody? :s
  4. Sep 7, 2010 #3

    Math Is Hard

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    What is/was your undergrad degree in? Which program are you most academically prepared for?
    You mentioned having "few biology oriented courses", so would you need to take any more undergraduate courses in biology to prepare for a program in cellular biophysics?
  5. Sep 7, 2010 #4
    I am not familiar with the undergrad/grad structure. I'm from Belgium and we have three year bachelors degree and then two year master. Now I'm finishing my bachelor in physics with a minor in medical radiation physics. So my biology background is little, but not non-existent. I would need to take a biochemistry course (not introductory) accompanied by some self-study for the missing background. The minor bioscience (which is meant for people who want to do the master in biophysics) has an extra course of bio-organic chemistry and two courses on structural biology.

    The program director of the master in biophysics said that I would be ok if I take just that biochemistry course, because no actual biology background is required for the track I'm taking.

    Obviously I'm best prepared for a master in nuclear physics.
  6. Sep 8, 2010 #5
    I've had a better look at the biochemistry course I need to take. I actually think it's introductory although it's no the first biochemistry of the bachelor in biochemistry and biotechnology. The book used in the course is Biochemistry by Garret and Grisham (chapter 1 to 27). Does this book have prerequisites? If not, I'm actually better prepared for this master than I thought. There will be some holes in my chemistry or cell biology though, since those courses weren't as deep as for chemistry or biology undergrads. But no real fundamentals will be missing.

    I'm also considering taking either a course in genetics (Griffiths' Introduction to genetic analysis) or molecular biology (Weaver's Molecular Biology). But I'll ask the program director what's best if I decide to do biophysics.

    I'm starting to think this isn't really the right place to ask questions about biophysics since not many people choose this direction.
  7. Sep 8, 2010 #6
    If you haven't taken a first course in organic chemistry, you will find biochemistry to be a frustrating experience.
  8. Sep 8, 2010 #7
    Why is that?
  9. Sep 8, 2010 #8
    Most biochemistry texts presupposes knowledge of organic chemistry. For example, one of the techniques for protein sequencing you learn is the Edman degradation. On top of that, a good text will cover enzyme catalysis and reactivity which requires knowledge originally learned in an organic chemistry course. You will also cover the mechanism of several metabolic reactions in glycolysis or krebs cycle. One important enzyme that comes to mind is aldolase which is a retro-aldol reaction in the forward direction, and an aldol condensation in the reverse.
  10. Sep 15, 2010 #9
    Just heard that I passed all my classes but one. So now it's official I'm going to my master and I couldn't be more happy!

    The best advice you can give me is go for the master I'm better prepared for?
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