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Programs From chemistry to physics

I did not opt for physics for my degree course (BSc), I am sort of regretting it. Now, I'd rather want to get close to physics as much as possible. I like physical chemistry, I was thinking I should change my area of interest from neuroscience to physics cause honestly physics is much more enjoyable. While neurophysiology and even chemistry is just same stuff to me.

So I was wondering, if I get do a PhD in quantum chemistry, would I be able to do research on physics? Any area really that's relevant to my doctorate. I am a bit worried that the concepts I learn in chemistry won't be very applicable in physics, at least outside the field of atomic physics.
 

PeroK

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So I was wondering, if I get do a PhD in quantum chemistry, would I be able to do research on physics? Any area really that's relevant to my doctorate. I am a bit worried that the concepts I learn in chemistry won't be very applicable in physics, at least outside the field of atomic physics.
As for who I am, I am a BSc first year student, I am eighteen years old. I forget pretty easily and I am going through a time in my life where I can't study easily. I am from India. Although I want to get a PhD in either chemistry or neuroscience, I struggle a lot.
You're effectively asking whether you should transfer to physics now; or, spend 7-10 years getting a BSc and PhD in Chemistry/Neuroscience and then transfer to physics research?!
 

DrClaude

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It is possible, as it is exactly what I did. For it to work, I think that you have to do a PhD that is really on the frontier between the two disciplines, which may not be the case depending in what kind of "quantum chemistry" you are doing.

The advantage of coming in from chemistry is that there are certain types of problems which physicists are more reluctant to tackle as they are less "clean." Coming in from chemistry, one is more use to certain heuristics and being comfortable even without a strict mathematical model. This is of course not universal, but I have met many physicist that do atomic physics but wouldn't take on molecular physics because it is "too messy."

That said, as @PeroK points out, it may be better to simply switch your undergraduate degree. Going from chemistry to physics, there are lots of things I had to learn by myself, like proper electromagnetism, not to mention all of the math I never formally learned.
 
You're effectively asking whether you should transfer to physics now; or, spend 7-10 years getting a BSc and PhD in Chemistry/Neuroscience and then transfer to physics research?!
Sorry for the confusion, I have a mental illness.

I was wondering if I can get a doctorate in quantum chemistry and then do research in say, quantum mechanics not limited to just molecules. The mathematics behind QM honestly fasicnates me cause I do not understand it yet.
 
It is possible, as it is exactly what I did. For it to work, I think that you have to do a PhD that is really on the frontier between the two disciplines, which may not be the case depending in what kind of "quantum chemistry" you are doing.

The advantage of coming in from chemistry is that there are certain types of problems which physicists are more reluctant to tackle as they are less "clean." Coming in from chemistry, one is more use to certain heuristics and being comfortable even without a strict mathematical model. This is of course not universal, but I have met many physicist that do atomic physics but wouldn't take on molecular physics because it is "too messy."

That said, as @PeroK points out, it may be better to simply switch your undergraduate degree. Going from chemistry to physics, there are lots of things I had to learn by myself, like proper electromagnetism, not to mention all of the math I never formally learned.
So what are the recommended fields of chemistry so I can do research on physics? I can drop this academic year and take physics next year (repeating my class) but I highly doubt it'll be worth the hassle. Also I do think I just get along with mathematics as long as I have the (informal) study material, like reference books.
 
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What you need to do is look at a lot of different universities and see what research they are actually doing. I switched to physics from chemistry after getting a BS because I realized I couldn't find a research program I wanted to do more than the thousand things in physics that I'd love to do.
 

symbolipoint

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So what are the recommended fields of chemistry so I can do research on physics? I can drop this academic year and take physics next year (repeating my class) but I highly doubt it'll be worth the hassle. Also I do think I just get along with mathematics as long as I have the (informal) study material, like reference books.
That is the wrong direction. Chemistry does not prepare you for Physics. You may use Physics to help you in Chemistry.
 
That is the wrong direction. Chemistry does not prepare you for Physics. You may use Physics to help you in Chemistry.
I understand. Thanks for pointing that out.
 
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https://dimauro.osu.edu/

Dr. Louis Dimauro was an important mentor of mine in the LSU Physics Dept. His PhD is in Chemistry. He's in the Ohio State Physics department now and has been for some time.

It can be done.
I wouldn't recommend it because the amount of stuff to catch up on is pretty wild. You need to make sure you're 100% committed to physics. After finishing a chemistry BS, it'll still be two full years before you can get a physics BS, so that should give you some idea of what lies ahead. I find it to be worth it because I prefer to be doing physics but only you know you.

<3
 

symbolipoint

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https://dimauro.osu.edu/

Dr. Louis Dimauro was an important mentor of mine in the LSU Physics Dept. His PhD is in Chemistry. He's in the Ohio State Physics department now and has been for some time.

It can be done.
I wouldn't recommend it because the amount of stuff to catch up on is pretty wild. You need to make sure you're 100% committed to physics. After finishing a chemistry BS, it'll still be two full years before you can get a physics BS, so that should give you some idea of what lies ahead. I find it to be worth it because I prefer to be doing physics but only you know you.

<3
One can find a small but notable portion of Physics faculty wherever one is, who earned an undergraduate in Chemistry but ultimately earned PhD in Physics. Each of these people has their/his/her own reasons for making the change. They found the necessary "catch-up" courses necessary and had enough motivation to fulfill them. Nothing wrong as long as the time, motivation, and expense allow for it.
 
One can find a small but notable portion of Physics faculty wherever one is, who earned an undergraduate in Chemistry but ultimately earned PhD in Physics. Each of these people has their/his/her own reasons for making the change. They found the necessary "catch-up" courses necessary and had enough motivation to fulfill them. Nothing wrong as long as the time, motivation, and expense allow for it.
Thank you. I will do some research and switch whenever/if possible.
 

CrysPhys

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I'd like to point out that this thread has forked into two different paths.

The OP (Post #1) asked whether it was possible to pursue research in physics after obtaining a PhD in chemistry. DrClaude (Post #3) cited himself as an existence proof that it can be done. Dr. Courtney (Post #9) cited the example of Dr. Louis Dimauro as a second existence proof that it can be done: Dr. Dimauro got his PhD in chemistry, but is pursuing physics research as a professor in the department of physics. I can provide a third existence proof that it can be done. I got my PhD in physics. My thesis advisor got his PhD in chemistry, but held joint appointments in the department of physics and in the department of metallurgy and materials science. How common this is, or how easy it is, I have no idea. But it's easier if you are working in areas that are more interdisciplinary. [As a more recent example, one of my former mentees went the other way: she went from an undergrad in physics and optics to a PhD in EE to a professorship in the department of chemical and biomedical engineering].

Posts #6, 10, and 11, however, discuss changing over from a chemistry degree to obtaining a PhD in physics in order to pursue research in physics. That's a whole different path.
 
I'd like to point out that this thread has forked into two different paths.

The OP (Post #1) asked whether it was possible to pursue research in physics after obtaining a PhD in chemistry. DrClaude (Post #3) cited himself as an existence proof that it can be done. Dr. Courtney (Post #9) cited the example of Dr. Louis Dimauro as a second existence proof that it can be done: Dr. Dimauro got his PhD in chemistry, but is pursuing physics research as a professor in the department of physics. I can provide a third existence proof that it can be done. I got my PhD in physics. My thesis advisor got his PhD in chemistry, but held joint appointments in the department of physics and in the department of metallurgy and materials science. How common this is, or how easy it is, I have no idea. But it's easier if you are working in areas that are more interdisciplinary. [As a more recent example, one of my former mentees went the other way: she went from an undergrad in physics and optics to a PhD in EE to a professorship in the department of chemical and biomedical engineering].

Posts #6, 10, and 11, however, discuss changing over from a chemistry degree to obtaining a PhD in physics in order to pursue research in physics. That's a whole different path.
I assumed, by reading post #7 that it would not be possible for me to do research in physics with a chemistry doctorate.
 

Dr. Courtney

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I assumed, by reading post #7 that it would not be possible for me to do research in physics with a chemistry doctorate.
This is something of a different question. There are a number of areas of chemistry that are close to physics. I work with a number of physics majors as a mentor and/or adviser. At many universities, the physics departments are small. I usually have a look at the Chemistry departments with these physics majors to identify additional research groups in the Chemistry departments whose research has significant physics components to provide additional potential research options for these physics majors. Most of these groups are headed by Chemistry PhDs.

The point is that there is not a sharp boundary between Chemistry and Physics. Molecular physics, thermodynamics, and physical chemistry all tend to straddle the boundary - as do some areas of materials science. Some areas relating to energetic materials are also in the border area. One physics major I mentored was highly sought after in a department Chemistry lab, since the lab uses techniques of experimental physics to probe important questions in physical chemistry. The lab is heavy on chemistry talent and light on physics talent.
 
This is something of a different question. There are a number of areas of chemistry that are close to physics. I work with a number of physics majors as a mentor and/or adviser. At many universities, the physics departments are small. I usually have a look at the Chemistry departments with these physics majors to identify additional research groups in the Chemistry departments whose research has significant physics components to provide additional potential research options for these physics majors. Most of these groups are headed by Chemistry PhDs.

The point is that there is not a sharp boundary between Chemistry and Physics. Molecular physics, thermodynamics, and physical chemistry all tend to straddle the boundary - as do some areas of materials science. Some areas relating to energetic materials are also in the border area. One physics major I mentored was highly sought after in a department Chemistry lab, since the lab uses techniques of experimental physics to probe important questions in physical chemistry. The lab is heavy on chemistry talent and light on physics talent.
I absolutely love physical chemistry and I am content with it. Although I may never be able to explore other branches of physics (say, cosmology) I guess atomic physics will do. Quantum mechanics sounds absolutely interesting and I will have to do a lot of work before I can actually understand the mathematics behind it, that's the reason why I am interested.
 

CrysPhys

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I absolutely love physical chemistry and I am content with it. Although I may never be able to explore other branches of physics (say, cosmology) I guess atomic physics will do. Quantum mechanics sounds absolutely interesting and I will have to do a lot of work before I can actually understand the mathematics behind it, that's the reason why I am interested.
According to another thread, you are a first year undergrad in India. If this is correct, you are a long ways off from completing a PhD program and a career in research. Much then depends on (a) how settled your interests are (only you can answer that), (b) how flexible the undergrad program at your university is (in terms of switching majors or taking electives outside of your major), and (c) what your future career goals are (which you might not know at this point). I don't know the university system in India. In the US, typically (with some exceptions) the first year is filled with general requirements and electives. You either don't declare a major until the second year, or switching majors in your second year is relatively painless (again, with some exceptions). Also, in the US, throughout your undergrad program, you're typically free to take electives outside your major. Universities in other countries might not have this flexibility. So, as an undergrad, you need to decide whether to major in chemistry (and take electives in physics and math if possible at your university) or to change your major to physics (and take electives in chemistry if possible at your university, assuming you still want to continue with some chemistry).

If you like the combo of chemistry and physics, there is the interdisciplinary field of chemical physics. At least in several universities in the US (don't know about India), you can get a PhD in chemical physics starting with an undergrad in either chemistry or physics.

Yet another path is the postdoc approach: Assuming you stick with chemistry and get your PhD in chemistry, you would seek a position in an interdisciplinary lab with chemists and physicists and acquire more knowledge of physics (depending on how motivated you are and how hard you want to work). [Of course, it would help if you took physics and math electives in undergrad and grad school.]

And, as in previously cited examples, once you become an established researcher in one field, you can migrate to research in another field (based on your capabilities and a host of other factors).
 
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According to another thread, you are a first year undergrad in India. If this is correct, you are a long ways off from completing a PhD program and a career in research.
I wonder why you're doubting something I said?

Much then depends on (a) how settled your interests are (only you can answer that), (b) how flexible the undergrad program at your university is (in terms of switching majors or taking electives outside of your major), and (c) what your future career goals are (which you might not know at this point). I don't know the university system in India. In the US, typically (with some exceptions) the first year is filled with general requirements and electives. You either don't declare a major until the second year, or switching majors in your second year is relatively painless (again, with some exceptions). Also, in the US, throughout your undergrad program, you're typically free to take electives outside your major. Universities in other countries might not have this flexibility. So, as an undergrad, you need to decide whether to major in chemistry (and take electives in physics and math if possible at your university) or to change your major to physics (and take electives in chemistry if possible at your university, assuming you still want to continue with some chemistry).
Here my second semester exams are rolling in, and that means if I want to do physics, I'd have to get readmited to first year and do everything from scratch. Sounds scary to me.


[If you like the combo of chemistry and physics, there is the interdisciplinary field of chemical physics. At least in several universities in the US (don't know about India), you can get a PhD in chemical physics starting with an undergrad in either chemistry or physics.

Yet another path is the postdoc approach: Assuming you stick with chemistry and get your PhD in chemistry, you would seek a position in an interdisciplinary lab with chemists and physicists and acquire more knowledge of physics (depending on how motivated you are and how hard you want to work). [Of course, it would help if you took physics and math electives in undergrad and grad school.]

And, as in previously cited examples, once you become an established researcher in one field, you can migrate to research in another field (based on your capabilities and a host of other factors).
Thank you for guiding me. Chemical physics is definitely researched here. But all along the time i was wondering if I can possibly research on say, astrophysics or cosmology, which does not have much chemistry involved in it as far as I know.
 
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I am sorry I was unable to tell the big picture.

After a year (when I get into the third year of my course) I'll have to select my primary subject. I've narrowed down to two subjects - Zoology and chemistry. I want to be either a life scientist or a physical scientist. If I choose the life sciences road, it would be because I want to research on better treatments for neurological conditions. If I choose physical sciences instead, I'll do it because of my interest in the physical sciences. I think I want to be a physical scientist much more than a life scientist. Narrowing to physical sciences, I'd want to be get close to pure physics as much as possible. I simply have an interest in physics. Due to my mental illness I did not opt for physics this year and now I regret the choice.
 

CrysPhys

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I wonder why you're doubting something I said?
I'm not doubting anything you said. I just was not sure I understood your situation correctly. Perhaps you should correct your profile. It says you've both completed undergrad and are also currently pursuing undergrad. Another poster was under the (incorrect) impression that you already had completed one undergrad degree (in neuroscience?) and was pursuing another undergrad degree. Your first post in this thread (I had not read your other threads originally) asked about pursuing research in physics after obtaining a PhD in chemistry: that initially gave me the (incorrect) impression that you were a grad student or at least an advanced undergrad. Appropriate guidance depends heavily on correct assessment of your current situation.
 

CrysPhys

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Thank you for guiding me. Chemical physics is definitely researched here. But all along the time i was wondering if I can possibly research on say, astrophysics or cosmology, which does not have much chemistry involved in it as far as I know.
<<Emphasis added>> Now that's an entirely different story. If you want to do physics research far away from the boundary between chemistry and physics, you're better off switching majors to physics (especially given that you're only one year in).

It's not impossible, however, to switch fields substantially. When I was a grad student, a physics professor, who was a well-established researcher in semiconductor physics, decided he had grown tired of working in the same field for decades. He switched over to population dynamics. He was able to secure funding, and he was helped by the fact that the university was one of the original US supercomputer sites. Note, though, it would have been a lot harder to switch fields in the opposite direction (population dynamics to semiconductor physics).
 
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I am so sorry for all the confusion.

Thank you. I got all the answers I needed. I am sorry if I was a headache to deal with.
 

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