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Interested in different scientific field as senior

  1. Dec 21, 2016 #1
    Hello, this is my first time being in Physics Forum.

    I am a 4th year student majoring in Astronomy and Physics at a university.
    I decided to major in them because I was interested and I wanted to go to grad school for astrophysics and eventually stepping into academia.
    Recently, I have been questioning my interest in the field, and the meaningfulness of the study I am doing.
    Don't get me wrong, Astronomy is fascinating and I enjoy it, but I looked at the direct contribution to the society and the financial possibility.
    With this in mind, I searched for different areas within science that is more applicable to technology.
    I am starting to get interested in Condensed Matter Physics, which is probably the closest one with I have been doing with my physics degree, and Nanotechnology.

    I will definitely want to go to grad school for these, but especially for nanotechnology, I heard that knowing chemistry would be really useful, but I have never taken chemistry (except for AP Chem in high school).
    I also have not done any research related to these fields. My research experience is mostly for Astronomy and Plasma Physics.

    Keep in mind that I will be taking a gap year after graduating, and I am hoping to do some kind of research related to CMP or Nano.

    Do you think it's too late to get into these fields with only having Astro background? Should I just go with Astronomy to get into good grad school?
    Or do you think having a gap year to do good research would allow me to pursue CMP or Nano at a good grad program?

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2016 #2
    You say you only have astro experience, but won't you also have a physics degree? A lot of people do research in completely different fields in undergrad than they do in grad school. I did computational laser physics as an undergrad, but switched to doing experimental CMP (nanotech) in grad school. Unless you have some fantastic research experience lined up for a gap year, I wouldn't advise it - this is anecdote, not statistic, but I've found that people who take a gap year to strengthen their resume often don't return to grad school.

    Also, shouldn't you have been asking yourself this... earlier?
  4. Dec 22, 2016 #3

    Thanks for the reply!

    I am taking gap year regardless. I was just getting interested different area than what I have been doing, which is Astro.
    I appreciate your comment!
  5. Dec 22, 2016 #4


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    It's certainly not too late. Just because you've learned in one direction up until this point it doesn't mean that you can't change. If you're in your 4th year now and are planning to take a gap year, why not fill in any gaps with things that you're developing an interest in now? Is there any reason you can't take a chemistry class in the winter term? Or over your gap year?

    And you don't need to have done research in the field. It can help, of course, but it's not mandatory. Doing research as an undergrad is really about exploring your interests. skill development, and learning about the process of doing research itself. If you discover that you'd rather be in another field - that's a golden experience, because it's a lot better to figure that out in your fourth year of undergrad than when you're half way through a PhD.

    Start reading up as much as you can about your new interests. See if you can talk to professors working in those fields in your school. They might have some recommendations about review articles that are reasonably accessible for students, for example.
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