1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Scientific Computing Application Area?

  1. Jul 31, 2014 #1
    Hi everyone!
    I have a question for you all. I'm a 3rd year undergraduate math student who took 4 years away from school and I'm going to be returning this Fall(^.^). Prior to leaving school, I'd take courses in C++, Numerical Methods, Two additional semesters of Numerical Analysis, Modern Algebra, Vector Calculus, Advanced Calculus, Linear Algebra, and the first two courses in both Chemistry and Calculus based Physics. Since I've been out, when I go back I'm going to take it slow and pad my existing knowledge of math with some other subjects(mainly computer science).

    I understand that I need to learn a little science in order to be useful in a research lab, so does anyone have any suggestions about what classes I should take in that pursuit? It's been 6 years since Chemistry and 5 years since Physics, but I really enjoyed both. How hard would it be to get back in the saddle with those and take upper level courses in those disciplines? A lot of the computer science professors at my school work in bioinformatics, I know some folks in the chemistry department(quantum/computational chemistry), and I have the opportunity to take courses in most any field. Does anyone have any recommendations for what would be a good route? Thanks :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2014 #2
    To help narrow it down, here are some courses I'm window shopping at the moment. Which ones do you think would best for me with my background?

    Intro to Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
    Math Methods in Physics
    Thermal Physics
    Physical Chemistry
    Electromagnetic Fields

    It's really a shot in the dark for me, and I'm not sure which fields have the best futures and also which are most feasible to take in addition to a slew of applicable Computer Science courses(Parallel Computation, Computer Systems, Computer Architecture, etc) and the 4 Mathematics courses I have left(Applied Combinatorics, Applied Modeling, Operational Methods/PDEs, and Complex Analysis).
  4. Jul 31, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    If you're wanting to be useful in a lab, then the bioinformatics class looks like a good one. Those computer science classes you mentioned would also come in handy in a bioinformatics lab.
  5. Aug 1, 2014 #4
    It seems like it's everywhere at my university these days. Is it the kind of thing that you need to have an interest in biology for? I haven't taken Biology since Sophmore year of High School(10 years ago) so I'm not really sure where it sits with me.
  6. Aug 1, 2014 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Does that class have any prerequisites? I wouldn't be surprised if it required a Biology class. On the other hand I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't. Bioinformatics is a broad discipline and there are some areas, such as genetic analysis/pattern recognition that are pretty separated form the actual biology and are more concerned with computer science.

    I would recommend at least being comfortable with biology. If you just absolutely hate biology and want nothing to do with it then maybe it's not for you. I was recently hired as an undergrad research assistant in the computational imaging/pattern recognition side of bioinformatics. Although it seems like I won't be doing any "wet lab" kind of stuff, I'm going to be sitting at a computer right next to someone who is.

    I'm recommending the informatics course assuming that your goal is to be "useful in a research lab." That will at least get you started. It looks like you've had a lot of numerical analysis so it seems the most suited for you. All the other classes you listed are just normal courses that a physics major or chemistry major would take. Doesn't look like they have a computational aspect.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook