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Offline Schrödinger

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Mastering Chemistry
« on: May 21, 2010, 03:18:10 PM »
Hey guys

When I take up my BS/MS/PhD (Chemistry of course) will I have to choose a particular field...like inorganic/organic/physical, etc?

I have this bad thought that keeps bothering me almost everyday... My dream has always been to master the subject, not just a small part of it. So, I fear that I may have to ignore some parts of Chemistry.

Can someone please tell me if I really need to fear? Or is there a way to achieve my dreams? Can I master all the fields of Chemistry (pretty daring... but willing to cross the Rubicon to develop my knowledge). What sort of a course can put me in the right path?
"Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."
- William Jennings Bryan

Offline FreeTheBee

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2010, 06:36:20 PM »
I can only say how my studies went, things might be different at different universities. In my first 2 years we did a bit of everything, from solid state to biochemistry, passing through (in)organic and analytical chemistry. After that we got more and more choices in course work and everyone started to branch out in different directions, but still with some common courses as well. Then of course the bachelor and master thesis were more specialised, since those were done in two of the research groups. Those two topics could be far apart though.
As a PhD student you have your project, which can be quite specialised. But since you're often collaborating and a lot of research is fairly interdisciplinary, things tend to branch out a bit into other fields as well.
If researchers can roam from chemistry into physics and the other way around, I wouldn't be too worried about missing out on subdisciplines within chemistry.
I don't know about mastering it all, but there are people around that seem to have gotten quite far. I hope most departments have one of those professors you can ask about almost any topic and get a useful answer.

Offline orgohacks

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2010, 12:47:52 AM »
Once you get there, you will inevitably find that some parts of chemistry are more interesting to you than others. You don't choose it... it chooses you. but wide-ranging scientific curiosity is always an asset. George Whitesides is an inspiring example.

Offline Mitch

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2010, 03:44:26 AM »
undergrad is very general, you don't get to choose a field. My graduate work was equal parts organic, physical, nuclear, radiochemistry, materials. My postdoctoral work is equal parts nanochemistry and biochemistry. I'm one of the most non-specialized chemist you will ever meet. 
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Offline Schrödinger

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2010, 03:50:56 AM »
Wow Mitch..Thanks for the reply. I wish to take up a 5-year integrated BS-MS dual degree course (hopefully) .

First 2 years cover all basic sciences, the next 3 years focus on chemistry. What about such a course? Will it be a general one?...like yours?
"Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."
- William Jennings Bryan

Offline Mitch

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2010, 01:23:37 PM »
The last year of masters you will have to pick a topic to study. There is no way you would have enough time to do something like I did. Just pick a topic that interests you, you will have more of a sense for it when the time comes.
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Offline Schrödinger

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2010, 12:09:32 AM »
The last year of masters you will have to pick a topic to study. There is no way you would have enough time to do something like I did. Just pick a topic that interests you, you will have more of a sense for it when the time comes.
What if I can't? That's my problem...I don't wanna pick. Any alternatives?
"Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."
- William Jennings Bryan

Offline Mitch

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2010, 12:50:11 AM »
D
The last year of masters you will have to pick a topic to study. There is no way you would have enough time to do something like I did. Just pick a topic that interests you, you will have more of a sense for it when the time comes.
What if I can't? That's my problem...I don't wanna pick. Any alternatives?

Do your masters thesis with me, assuming I'm a professor by then.
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Offline Schrödinger

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2010, 05:54:45 AM »
What exactly is this master's thesis? You mean the research paper that I need to present at the end of the 5th year?
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Offline Mitch

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2010, 12:50:43 AM »
Yeah, it is usually considered a big deal.
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Offline Schrödinger

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2010, 02:37:17 AM »
Well, if I have to do all my 5 years here, then how can I do my thesis alone with you? Isn't it part of the 5 year module?
"Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."
- William Jennings Bryan

Offline Mitch

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2010, 11:59:22 AM »
It is typical to take off for the last year or to stay at the institution.
Most Common Suggestions I Make on the Forums.
1. Start by writing a balanced chemical equation.
2. Don't confuse thermodynamic stability with chemical reactivity.
3. Forum Supports LaTex

Offline Yggdrasil

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2010, 03:04:22 PM »
Here's an interesting perspective on the breadth vs depth argument: http://www.p212121.com/index.php?s=breadth+v+depth

Of course, having both a good breadth of knowledge and a good depth of knowledge in your specialty is important.  For early career scientists (esp. undergrads), focusing on breadth of knowledge is probably a good idea.  However, it is important to realize that as you advance in your career, having a good depth of knowledge in a particular topic becomes more important. 

Offline Schrödinger

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2010, 11:40:06 PM »
@Yggdrasil :

Quote
We aren’t going to be experts in everything
You see, I'm not a very practical guy. I live in a self-created Utopian world, and hence, I don't like the sound of the very first line of that link you posted!!! :)

"Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."
- William Jennings Bryan

yg7s7

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Re: Mastering Chemistry
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2010, 05:08:45 PM »
Some people devote their whole lives to studying one atom...

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