Biochemistry is a complex subject that can be difficult to understand, especially for students who are just getting their feet wet in the subject. For example, even the basic fundamentals of biochemistry can be overwhelming when you face terms like biopolymers, organic compounds, and nucleotides. To help students gain a better understanding of these topics, many universities offer biochemistry courses which can be particularly useful. But we can offer an ad hoc solution for you.
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What exactly biochemistry major is?
In the biochemistry major, as you can guess, you’ll take a mixture of chemistry and biology classes if you’re stuck or confused between biology, chemistry, nursing, and biochemistry. Here’s a very quick overview.
A biology major studies, living things and biological systems on a larger scale at the organism level like animals and plants and also at a cellular level. A biologist at an undergraduate level does much less problem solving or math applications and instead do much more memorization of various concepts.
Biochemistry is a good option for those struggling with Math
If your decision is between these three and you struggle with math — biology is probably the best way to go. A chemistry major studies the chemical structures of all things on the planet. Chemists use much more math and even sometimes apply calculus and other math formulas to the problems at hand. There’s more math in calculus to use than you would probably assume from a high school chem class, even if you took AP chem.
Now, biochemistry is similar to chemistry, and that you’ll have more problem solving and we’ll have to use math to solve problems. But biochemists look more at the chemistry of living organisms. Biochemists have a much more zoomed-in, look at different living structures and what they consist of than a biology major. Biochemists will have to develop a significant understanding of macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, etc. whereas the biologist looks at more of an overall picture of those living structures and how everything interacts together.
But as a biochemistry major, you’ll be more related to a chemistry major and will nearly take all the same core classes as they will. So an undergrad and biochem is almost like an undergrad in chemistry. So as a biochem major, you’ll take general chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry, or as you’ll hear them called Gen Chem Oakman Peacon. Each school may vary, but likely each one of those will consist of two or three quarters or semesters and will take an entire year. And these are identical to what chem majors take and they will take up a majority of your core classes. General chemistry includes learning all the basics from if you took AP Chem in high school, you’ll learn the periodic table, the evolution of how the atom was understood, the ideal gas law and so on. You’ll also learn how battery cells work and you use equations to predict their energy. In general chemistry. You’ll perform labs such as predict the amount of product you’ll have at the end of a combustion reaction or be asked to titrate an acid to a specific endpoint. Another potential general chemistry lab is you might be asked to create a cell that will apply your knowledge of ions and oxidation and reduction reaction.
You will have to memorize lots of different skeletal structures
These lab techniques are meant to help prepare you for future courses in the major and ultimately prepare you for if you were to run your own lab or continue on into industry in Ockham, you’ll have to learn and memorize lots of different skeletal structures. You’ll learn what these mean and you’ll get into how to change a molecule based on its structure to create a new compound. You’ll learn what many different, commonly known nutrition compounds are made of, like proteins, amino acids, carbs and vitamins. In the lab, you can expect to perform many experiments that build on your lecture material. For example, you might be asked to create a product given an initial starting material and through various organic chemistry mechanisms, arrive at a final product. You’ll be asked to predict the amount of product you’ll end up with and will also learn that the more steps in a procedure, the more air you will have built into the experiment than physical chemistry will be much more math-oriented. You’ll learn the proof behind concepts taught in general chemistry, and you might have to do calculus to do so depending on the university. So you will do much more math as a chem or biochem major than you may have expected. You’ll even get into quantum mechanics and how it applies to chemistry, which is a physics topic, but with applications and chemistry.
An example biochemistry topic
One example would be infrared spectroscopy. This can be used to identify and analyze different chemicals by shining infrared light on it, which we can’t see. Infrared is what some remote controls use to turn on your TV. But using a device called an infrared spectrometer, you can analyze the spectrum of the infrared light and then you can use that to tell what the chemical is. Now, we’re biochem differs from chemistry is you’ll take more biology classes that focus on molecular and cellular biology, but you’ll focus on how these processes work at a chemical level. As a biochemistry, you will take courses such as metabolism where you’ll learn what carbohydrates, lipids and amino acids are, and you’ll be familiar with our chemical structures and how they relate to each other and metabolism. This is where you’ll focus on the chemistry of biological processes. So just glycolysis, the Krebs cycle and oxidative phosphorylation, which are all just cellular processes that provide the organism with energy. A very common application of biochemistry is drugs and medicine. Biochemists work on developing and testing new drugs, determine how these various drug compounds interact with the body. If you major in biochem, but you’re not interested in continuing your education, you can find jobs in industry such as a quality control technician. In this position, you would be somewhat limited in what you’re allowed to do.
That would most likely be performing tasks assigned to you by a superior that most likely has a Ph.D.. Many people who major in biochemistry continue in their education to earn a master’s or Ph.D. and that way they can create and perform their own experiments or work on research other than drug design, biochemistry, things such as how altering gene expression can affect a particular organism. Now, if math and science really excite you, you would prefer not to work in a lab. Biochemistry would be a great major for someone interested in becoming a doctor, pharmacist, nurse or dentist because this major would satisfy all your prerequisites and give you a deep understanding on how the biological world works at a chemical level. Now, in your fourth year, you can choose tech electives that either are chemistry or biology classes. And this is another way where you’ll be distinguished as leaning more towards biology or chemistry. For the biotech collectives, you can learn more about genetics, physiology, neuroscience, virology, microbiology, and more than chemistry. Tech collectives include bioorganic chemistry, marine chemistry, environment, chemistry, pharmaceutical development, inorganic chemistry and more. These are not the bulk of your courses, but are that little extra at the end to get you a deeper understanding of one of these subfields?
Why you should NOT study Biochemistry
Reason 1 – Learn too many things by heart
The first thing I would like to mention is that in biochemistry, you have to learn a lot of things by heart. The learning material and biochemistry is immense, and it’s all about the details and your ability to memorize them in the crypt cycle, glycolysis, but oxidation, etc. It’s expected to recall all the involved enzymes, the molecular structures, and also the connections to other pathways. It’s pretty easy to get confused between all of those enzymes like Alpha Ketso, glutamate dehydrogenase Leiser and alginate three. How is it called phosphor dehydrogenase, Hexa kinase, forceful Fruita kinase, etc. And it’s basically impossible to know all the names and structures and also their functions. Many mechanisms are also poorly understood yet. So that’s why you just learn them by heart without going deeper into them. This is actually pretty good, because if you would go deeper into that, you would have even more to learn by heart. So if you are a person who has difficulties learning things by heart, then you should maybe rethink your biochemistry would be the right thing for you
Reason 2 – All day in the lab
My second point is the lab work, biochemistry and biochemical processes are definitely very interesting and almost all scientific research uses biochemical methods. But do you actually know what a biochemist is doing? Of course, it’s great to hear about the newest scientific achievements in oncology, virology, immunology and a new drug that was designed for this and that. But behind the scenes are actually people spending the whole day in the lab, splitting cell cultures, transferring some vectors, or just mixing some samples for PCR. And this can be quite boring sometimes. And if things don’t go well and that will be my third point, it might be that you will stand in the lab for weeks and doing day for the day all the time the same thing because an experiment just doesn’t function the way it should function. Another thing I hate until now is the horrible long waiting times in the internships or in scientific work in general. I think throughout my beachgoer I wanted more for reactions to be completed than I actually studied. But of course, that does not only concern biochemistry, but all the other sciences as well, where you also have pretty long waiting times. But personally, I find that always very annoying. I remember, for example, our molecular biology internship there. We came in the morning, we mixed three things together. We went out, had a break of three hours. We came back, mixed another two things together and had another break of two hours.
Reason 3 – Biochemists often face the failure
After those two hours, we came back, put the sample in the fridge, and that was the whole internship. And the next day we came into the lab and nothing functioned and we needed to repeat everything again. All in all, the papers will be your best friend, and you should think if you really want that point number three, the experimental failer referring to point to, I would like to mention the frustration you will experience if you decide to follow a scientific career often and actually very often you will face failure and insufficient or no results at all. Even though you worked your ass off and you did everything what you were supposed to do, you can do everything right. You can disinfect your hands and your bench for like five hours. But at the end of the day, it might still be that you will not come forward with your experiment. I don’t know anyone who didn’t experience this. And I know so many people, including me, who needed to repeat so many experiments so often just because things didn’t go the right way or didn’t grow or whatever. As I was working in the lab for my bachelor’s thesis, I had a huge problem with contamination. I checked the water. I checked the nucleotides. I checked the enzymes. I used. I bought everything new. But at the end of the day, I always had contaminations in my samples and then just did not know why.
After a while, I actually found out that somebody worked on RNA on my bench and that’s why I had RNA contaminations in my samples. If you study biochemistry, you usually work in very small dimensions. So a little contamination, just one microgram of micrometer of anything can disturb your whole results. So it’s very important to always look very clean so that you will get the results you seek. So if you study biochemistry, you have to be able to face failure and also be the very patient number for complexity. As I already said in point one, you have to learn a lot by heart in biochemistry. But biochemistry is also a very broad and very complex field and many mechanisms are yet poorly understood. Just looking at one pathway is difficult enough, but seeing and looking at the whole entity is way too difficult to comprehend. So many billions of reactions happen each millisecond in our body and it’s just too easy to generalize the function of only one of those molecules. The complexity of biochemistry is a bit overwhelming sometimes, and you do not really have the feeling that you learned already everything because there is so much to learn that there’s basically no end. And that makes it a bit unpleasant to learn. But of course, this complexity is also a positive thing.
Reason 4 – Biochemist’s salary is not that big
And now the last point, the future, if you’re really interested in biochemistry, you definitely looked up the job chances and how much you might earn as a biochemist. And when you Google, how much biochemists earn and how the job chances are for a biochemist, you will find completely different results. Some people will say that the job chances are very bad. Some people will say the job chances are amazing and this is the future. So what is right? I think it’s a very known fact that people will follow a career in the industry, usually get more money than people who stay in the university and do some research. The problem basically is that biochemists compete with many different other people, like chemists, biologists, biomedicine, graduates, pharmacists, etc. This is the reason why so many people, do a doctorate after their masters or even write a Ph.D. dissertation. And this is also very important because you can have a job as a biochemist. But the question is not if you can have a job, but if you can have a good job. And that’s why it’s very important to specialize yourself to a specific field, to be better than others, to be better than the biologists or chemists, and to show some qualities they do not have. What I basically would like to see is you are more or less forced to do a doctor, which will take you around three to five years depending on you to compete with the other people and to get the job you really would like to have.
In a word
And even then, it’s not guaranteed. Of course, you do not need a doctor or master. Even you can work after you beat them too. But the higher you go, the better your chances will be. Of course, your future in biochemistry might not only be the lab, but you can also work, for example, as a consultant of companies or to sell a specific product or even have an own company. But this is all up to you. Let’s summarize the most important points. If you decide to study biochemistry, you will have to learn a lot of things by heart. You will have a lot of lab work, which you may not really like. The third thing is you will experience experimental failure and you should be patient enough to handle that. The fourth thing would be the complexity and the incomprehensibility of biochemistry, which might be overwhelming and unpleasant sometimes. And the fifth and last point is the future or the job chances as biochemists compete with a lot of other scientists, such as chemists, biologists, et cetera. All right, guys, that was the video. Five reasons why you should not study biochemistry.