Grad school: biochemical engineering minor or 3 extra math classes?

In summary, the conversation revolves around a junior considering a double major in biology and math for grad school. They have the option to take a biochem engineering minor or four additional math classes. They are unsure if the minor will be beneficial for grad school and are interested in reaction networks and biological engineering. They also discuss the importance of different math classes and the practicality of a math degree. Additionally, they mention their interest in mathematical methods in morphogenesis and the potential for topology in biology.
  • #1
pjmarshall
10
2
Hey I'm a junior thinking about going into the mathematical biology field (bio/math double major) for grad school. I have the option of either taking 4 classes (wrong title) to get a biochem engineering minor, the main one which focuses on body regulation, tissue/organ engineering, pathways, and genetic engineering (the other two classes are prereqs, transport processes for chemical engineers), or I could take 4 math classes. If I do the first one, i would miss out on complex variables, combinatronics, numerical analysis, and advanced linear algebra; i can also take one of those classes if i replace topology. Are those classes important for grad school in terms of biological modeling?

Would a biochem class help for grad school? The minor is mainly for 'job security' i guess (my parents are already pissed I'm not going for a more practical major in the declining economy), though it's irrational since i don't know what kind of company would hire a math major with a biochemical engineering minor. But most importantly: would this minor help for grad school? Reaction networks/biological engineering etc. are my interests, though I'm not sure if a minor in them are a good thing for grad applications.

EDIT: I also remembered that i can take 3 extra math classes if i replace advanced calculus, which is after real analysis and deals with n-spaces, etc. and geometry and topology, however i'd like to get some depth into those classes, and i heard the latter 2 have uses in biological modeling. not sure about advanced calc, any info on that?
 
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  • #2
pjmarshall said:
I could take 4 math classes. If I do the first one, i would miss out on complex variables, combinatronics, numerical analysis, and advanced linear algebra; i can also take one of those classes if i replace topology. Are those classes important for grad school in terms of biological modeling?

It really depends what kind of mathematical biology project you take up, what do you think you might be interested in? There will be lots of ODE/PDE projects, but equally there are plenty of areas where combinatronics could be used. Linear algebra is an excellent subject to be proficient in, too.

pjmarshall said:
Would a biochem class help for grad school?

Most of the mathematical biologists I work with have a tenuous (at best) understanding of the biology. Generally, we collaborate with biologists, pharmacologists or whomever else is appropriate to help to interpret the data. To me, the biological data I work with is just a bunch of numbers.

pjmarshall said:
I could take 4 math classes. If I do the first one, i would miss out on complex variables, combinatronics, numerical analysis, and advanced linear algebra; i can also take one of those classes if i replace topology. Are those classes important for grad school in terms of biological modeling?

It really depends what kind of mathematical biology project you take up, what do you think you might be interested in? There will be lots of ODE/PDE projects, but equally there are plenty of areas where combinatronics could be used. Linear algebra is an excellent subject to be proficient in, too.

pjmarshall said:
The minor is mainly for 'job security' i guess (my parents are already pissed I'm not going for a more practical major in the declining economy)
..more practical than mathematics? Maths is one of the most practical degrees of any. You get an excellent skillset and can be employed in hundreds of different areas.

pjmarshall said:
But most importantly: would this minor help for grad school? Reaction networks/biological engineering etc. are my interests,

Biological engineering is a huge, huge area, what sort of things would you want to look at? Are we talking about blood flows? artificial limbs? One of the good things about working in an interdisciplinary subject like mathematical biology or biomedical engineering is that you come into contact with people that have lots of different skills. For instance, a physicist starting in a biomedical engineering department is desirable because they're a physicist. A physicist will think about things in a different way to biologists, and has a different skill set to apply to the situation - a mathematician brings a further different skill set. Interdisciplinary work can then be about finding a harmony with utilising the skills of lots of different people.
 
  • #3
Thanks for the reply. I suppose it's better to specialize, but does anyone know if subjects like topology are consistent with (current) genetics research? Seems like it'd be better to take a course more related to optimization/etc. than topology, though I'm interested to see if there's a decent, sustainable field for topology in biology.
 
  • #4
Whatever you decide to do I don't think you should miss numerical analysis and complex variables.
 
  • #5
Also to clarify, I've taken an interest in mathematical methods in morphogenesis, though that term is broad. So far, i haven't found a professor to work on that field, though.
 

Related to Grad school: biochemical engineering minor or 3 extra math classes?

1. What is the difference between a biochemical engineering minor and taking 3 extra math classes for grad school?

A biochemical engineering minor typically involves completing a set of courses focused on the principles of biochemical engineering, including topics such as metabolic engineering, biochemistry, and biochemical process design. On the other hand, taking 3 extra math classes for grad school allows you to gain a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts and their applications in the field of biochemical engineering. While both options may provide valuable skills, the minor offers a more specific and structured curriculum, while taking additional math classes allows for a more customizable approach.

2. Which option would be more beneficial for a career in biochemical engineering?

Both options can be beneficial for a career in biochemical engineering, but it ultimately depends on your specific career goals and interests. If you are interested in pursuing a career in research or academia, a biochemical engineering minor may be more valuable as it provides a strong foundation in the field. However, if you are interested in a more technical or industry-based career, taking 3 extra math classes may be more beneficial as it allows you to develop advanced mathematical skills that are highly sought after in the field.

3. Will a biochemical engineering minor or extra math classes make me a more competitive candidate for grad school?

Both options can make you a more competitive candidate for grad school, as they demonstrate your dedication to the field and your willingness to go above and beyond the basic requirements. However, it is important to also have a strong overall GPA, relevant research or work experience, and strong letters of recommendation in order to be a competitive candidate for grad school.

4. Can I do both a biochemical engineering minor and take 3 extra math classes for grad school?

It is possible to do both a biochemical engineering minor and take 3 extra math classes for grad school, but it may require careful planning and time management. It is important to make sure that you have the capacity to handle the workload and that you are able to maintain a strong GPA in both areas. It may also be beneficial to speak with an academic advisor to ensure that your course selections align with your academic and career goals.

5. Are there any specific courses that are recommended for a biochemical engineering minor or extra math classes for grad school?

The specific courses recommended for a biochemical engineering minor or extra math classes for grad school may vary depending on the university and program. However, some common courses that may be recommended for a biochemical engineering minor include biochemistry, bioprocess engineering, and metabolic engineering. For extra math classes, courses such as differential equations, linear algebra, and statistics may be beneficial. It is important to consult with an academic advisor to determine the best course selection for your specific goals and program requirements.

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