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What math classes should I take to help with getting a Ph.D. in biochemistry?

I want to try and get a Ph.D. in about 7 years and want to know what classes will help me with that.

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Isel’s Answer

Hello Keilana, I have a master in Chemistry from Indiana University and I can tell you that we used a lot of statistical concepts. As one of the answered said courses in statistics will be best. We rarely used calculus in our day to day. Also learning basic programming, Python, and mathematical software's such as sage or matalab might will give you an advantage. Of course all of this is relative if you want to focus your degree in a more heavy Math research you will want to take higher level Math courses such as Calculus and differential equation, or Physical Chemistry. I suggest you think about what you really love about biochemistry is it the Math part or the biology part, and focus on that.
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Andrew’s Answer

An obvious starting point to tackle this question is to ask what mathematics courses are necessary for a researching degree in biology and chemistry since biochemistry is an interdisciplinary area between biology and chemistry.

Chemistry should be considered a hard science. Hence, a student in chemistry should go through the rigorous STEM-track mathematics training. A student in biology will benefit from this training.

On the other hand, there are many subdisciplines in biochemistry, in which each one may require different mathematical skills. Therefore, it would be prudent to be prepared to be able to learn the necessary mathematical skills when needed.

The obvious question is what is the minimal criteria for the “necessary” preparation?

It would be the gateway to learning mathematics: Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, Ordinary Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra. With this preparation, a student would be able to map out a pathway to learn what would be needed to engage in future research. It is difficult to envision directions of future research. Hence, it is imperative to be prepared to learn what skills, mathematical skills included, to be able to engage in future research directions.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Keilana
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Mark’s Answer

I agree with Andrew. A lot of Ph.D. work in biochemistry involves statistical modeling and dealing with large datasets. All of the math courses he cited can prepare you for this. You might also want to be sure you have a firm grasp of the basics of computer programming. You might not need to all the coding yourself, but understanding how coding works will help you better plan your research and communicate with those who may be doing the coding for you. It will also give you a firmer grasp of how to interpret the results you get.
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