Why Major In Genetics?

Genetics

Surely you’ve wondered what is responsible for your black hair, your brown eyes, or the ever so famous big feet that run in your family and you thought genes, right? These tiny things are what make you who you are. Without genes, well, you wouldn’t exist. Amazing isn’t it?

Genetics allows us to understand how characteristics are passed down by parents and inherited by offspring. How is it that offspring are so similar to their parents? What’s the probability of inheriting more phenotypic traits (physical characteristics) from the father than from the mother? How did this mutation arise and what went wrong? How have mutations helped in promoting evolution? Genetics helps answer questions such as these and more.

Genetic make up can be especially important when dealing with genetically related disorders, in which cases disorders can be detected and treated early. This reduces any risks of further complications, it can help to accommodate special needs if detected as early as a few weeks into pregnancy. For example, if Autism is detected in infancy, then treatment and therapy can begin as early as 18 months. Other genetic disorders include Trisomy 18 (Edward’s Syndrome), Cystic Fibrosis, Down Syndrome, and Sickle Cell Anemia. The disorders listed are just a few of the many that exist. Knowing the genetic components of each of these is highly beneficial in keeping the health of the individual affect by the disorder.

But the best part about Genetics is that it does not only apply to humans. Any living thing has some type of genetic make up ready to be studied. From Mendel’s pea plants to your pet at home. A major in genetics can be applied to anything that has genes.

Example of genes determining phenotype
Example of genes determining phenotype
Genetics and disease prevention/detection
Genetics and disease prevention/detection

A brief list of possible career options:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Biotechnology (Working with biotechnology companies)
  • Medicine
  • All the health sciences
  • Wildlife
  • Forensics
  • And more

The requirements for the Genetics major can be found on the UC Davis website under majors. Here’s a quick link: http://catalog.ucdavis.edu/programs/MCB/MCBreqt.html (Make sure to scroll down to “Genetics B.S. Major Requirements.”)

I encourage you to check out the major requirements and major description and try out a few classes as well. Who knows, you might fall in love with it!

Alejandra Villa
Second year, Biological Sciences
Biology Academic Success Center Peer Adviser

 

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The Cell Biology Major

On the macroscopic level, we encounter people, animals, and plants. There is a great amount of variation among organisms, but all living things can be simplified to a single fundamental unit: the cell.

As the basic functional unit of life, the cell continues to be one of the most important scientific discoveries to date. Knowledge of how the cell works has helped scientists work on a large range of biologically important discoveries, such as curing illnesses, tracing genetic ancestry, and transplanting organs. A comprehensive understanding of the cell is thus a good starting point for anyone wishing to conduct research, teach in the biological sciences, or gain a biology foundation for many other career paths.

Continue reading “The Cell Biology Major”

Why Major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology?

DNA Helicase Activity
Fig.1 DNA Helicase Activity

“I want to be a doctor!” is one of the most common reasons students give when choosing our Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) major. Medical schools don’t actually put much weight on your major of choice, however, they do emphasize performing well in classes that are prerequisites for their programs. These programs also look at how well you are doing in whatever major you decide. So choose a major that interests you! Also, if you do choose BMB don’t limit yourself to medicine. BMB is an empowering major that will open doors to many other careers.

Imagine a single hair; The diameter of that hair is about 75,000 nanometers or about the size of the average amino acid. Why are amino acids important and why should we care about them? Amino acids are the key parts of “active sites” of enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that speed up the fundamental reactions of our body so that we can function. If you are interested in how these enzymes power our metabolism to give us energy, then this is the major for you.

Not only will you gain a great deal of knowledge about protein structure and function, but you will also acquire a deep understanding of biochemical techniques through: Polymerase Chain Reaction, Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis, Isoelectric Focusing Gels, and Affinity Columns. These techniques, along with the knowledge of protein structure and function in metabolism, will help you gain the initial experience and skills you need to become a better applicant for graduate programs, professional programs or even a Junior Specialist.

Not satisfied with an M.D., D.O., PhD, or Masters in Biochemistry? Want a job right out of college? This major is still a great choice. The Biotechnology industry is a growing field and big industry companies are looking for Junior Specialists with a bachelors degree in Biochemistry. You can work in a lab and be on the frontier of the health sciences field as you work on the next big therapeutic drug!

By integrating the fields of Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, Biochemistry has helped several career fields grow and is continuing to provide a wealth of knowledge to those that look for it. So why major in BMB? The opportunities are endless.

Mo Siddiqui
Peer Adviser, Biology Academic Success Center
B.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Class of 2015

 
Additional Links

Careers in Biochemistry
http://www.asbmb.org/Page.aspx?id=266
On Campus Research in Biochemistry
http://www.mcb.ucdavis.edu/dept/bookmarks.cfm?CategoryID=1961855059

Animation taken from:
Foadey, W.. N.p.. Web. 26 Feb 2014. <http://www.cs.stedwards.edu/chem/Chemistry/CHEM43/CHEM43/Projects04/HELICASE/FUNCTION.html&gt;.