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Eigen last won the day on January 6

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About Eigen

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  1. Not regional in my experience. Seen it in the west, northeast, midwest, and south, and at national conferences. I think perhaps you're just a bit overwhelmed. Most of what you're talking about you may not remember (although I cover most of it in y biochem classes), and it's pretty easy to pick up reading during your first year. Most of what you're talking about seems to be specific to you and your programs. Where I've taught (and interviewed) those are all techniques you'd cover in your year of biochem. Similarly, I would assume if that was someone's interest they'd do research in biochemistry for at least a few years, where you would likely pick up a lot of the rest. Maybe you just had a really unusual chemistry experience, but I'm really surprised that two semesters of biochem with labs didn't prepare you for talking about protein-DNA interactions or RNA folding. As to your last statement... Saying you're a theoretical chemist is saying you're a chemist. That studies theory. It's like saying you're an organic chemist. I think a lot of people feel the same way about biochemist. It's a type of chemist.
  2. I just wanted to add some older discussion this topic- namely the flury of opinion pieces written in 1986 after a lecture at the Royal Society when it was suggested that biochemistry was irreducible to chemistry. The response from Perutz in New Scientist is worth reading (1986, 1528:36, page. 36 in the link below): https://books.google.com/books?id=OthdH0JQGiYC&pg=PA1&dq=New+scientist+1986+1528&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwip2Zzo-ubVAhWXxIMKHWLsADoQ6AEIMDAC#v=onepage&q=New scientist 1986 1528&f=true as is the article from Steven Rose in Cell, on reductionism that cited both the talk and Perutz's piece. http://www.cell.com/trends/biochemical-sciences/abstract/0968-0004(88)90138-7 Much of this comes down to reductionism. Is it better to define hundreds of small, fractured disciplines or realize they're mostly part of a few larger ones? I take the latter view. Broad training tends to be more valuable than narrow training. I teach in, and am helping to develop a biochemistry program, but I wouldn't recommend students who want to go to graduate school in biochemistry major in it rather than chemistry. It's more intended for pre-med students who need reduced course requirements and flexibility, and sacrifices depth on the fundamentals. Focusing on one "application" rather than the fundamentals is, I feel, more detrimental to research than a gain. It's why I call myself a chemist that works in the area of biochemistry rather than a chemist. Some of my colleagues are biologists who work in the area of biochemistry. But I don't know many who identify solely as biochemists. Not saying people don't, but it's just not something I run across much.
  3. So why is that any different than a physical chemist, who takes aspects of physics and aspects of chemistry? Biology and chemistry aren't that fundamentally different of disciplines. But they are very different in training. Chemists build up from molecules to larger things, biologists build down from ecosystems to molecules. By and large, biochemistry approaches studies the way chemistry does. This is especially true because biochemistry is a really young field, made up predominately of chemists. Biochemistry builds on organic chemistry and physical chemistry to explain why things we observe in biology happen. That doesn't mean it's drawing heavily on biology, it means it supports biology. Taken another way, he study of biochemistry doesn't require background knowledge from biology. Sure, that can help- but it isn't necessary. I would let someone take my biochem course if they haven't taken intro biology with the understanding that they wouldn't get all of the applications of what we were talking about. I couldn't let in someone who hadn't taken organic- it's a direct pre-requisite for understanding most of the material in the course. Chemistry and Biology are large fields. If you're a biochemist, you are a chemist or biologist as well, likely both. Your example of physics and math doesn't fit the same model. Physics uses math, but the approach and perspective isn't the same.
  4. You keep saying biochemistry isn't chemistry... By defining biochemists as different from chemists. If you group biochemists in with chemistry, then your point becomes more that organic chemists aren't biochemists.
  5. You seem to have a very narrow definition of chemistry. And I'm not sure you understand how I applied my definition. Chemistry in no way biases towards small molecules- it biases towards a molecular basis for understanding how things work. There are a number of fields that study immense molecules, including biochemistry, that are part of the field of chemistry (not to mention materials chemistry, polymer chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, etc.). This, to me, indicates that you have a very narrow view of the field of chemistry, although you seem to feel you have an awfully deep understanding of how large fields of study should be organized, and from what I recall you haven't started your PhD yet? I get you have a very specific definition and feel or what biochemistry is, but I wouldn't say it's by any means universal. I don't think any of my colleagues would feel they aren't chemists, and I certainly don't. The way you talk about things working is the way some schools are organized, but I wouldn't say it's the majority. It's also a new organization that comes not from, as you say, research labs and industry, but driven by what students think they want to major in. Biomedical areas are popular, so schools organize degrees around them. Research labs and industry, not so much. Finally, I think you'd be surprised at how many of those topics chemists are familiar with. I will happily answer questions on those areas- my research group studies all ranges of nucleic acid chemistry, and I've got close to 7 years of experience running cell culture labs and training people in that area. Biochemistry is one of the 5 major subdiscipline of chemistry (organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, bio), and most chemists have probably taken biochem at some point I think you could also ask many of your questions in the biology forum, and get good information. My bet is that many of us read/check on multiple subdiscipline forums, and you'll get answers wherever you post. Finally, you mention techniques like PAGE- it was developed by a chemist (a biochemist), and won the chemistry Nobel prize. Tiselius very clearly considered himself a chemist his entire career. Edward Southern, who was the progenitor of the southern blot (from which other naming is pulled- western among them) was also a chemist. Footprinting assays are also generally considered a chemistry technique. Their use in biology is what gives rise to the field of molecular biology, using molecular (chemistry) techniques to study biological systems.
  6. You're looking at this too much from a major perspective, which is primarily branding. Most graduate biochemistry degrees come from med schools, and there are increasing numbers of undergrad biochemistry programs. But most of these programs don't have many stand alone faculty- I teach in a biochemistry program, and all of us are either chemists or biologists. And traditionally, the broader category for biochemistry is chemistry. It's only recently that it's been subsumed into some molecular bio programs, but the vast majority of the people who teach it are in chemistry programs, from chemistry programs, or affiliated with them. Biochemistry is one of the 5 main subfield said of chemistry. If we're being correct about it, the subfield that usually takes in structural biology is chemical biology, which is a biology subfield, distinct from biological chemistry and biochemistry which are part of chemistry. All of these are traditional areas of study within chemistry, bringing home the point that a lot of this discussion fits within the biochemistry-as-chemistry sub discipline. I think the perpetuation and growth of biochem undergrad programs (purely for student popularity, most of the time) drives home the idea to many of my students that biochemistry is a standalone discipline, which it's not anymore than ecology or organic chemistry. A discipline is predominately defined by the way you think about problems. Biochemistry, as other chemical disciplines, comes at problems from a molecular perspective, as driven home by the techniques you mention above. It's the application of basic chemical principles and techniques to biological systems. As to most schools having degree programs titled biochemistry, that's not what makes a discipline stand alone. Most of those degree programs are within a larger department, and that department represents the discipline. There are some biochemistry departments, almost exclusively in medical schools, and they tend to be the exception due to the school lacking a broader chemistry program for them to fall under.
  7. To me all of the areas mentioned (structural, physical, computational, theoretical and bio-organic) fall squarely under either biology or chemistry. Biochemistry can be under either biology or chemistry, but is rarely a standalone discipline. I think making another section for it splits up discussion, and I would honestly be more in favor of fewer sections than more. I think a separate forum for biochemistry especially isn't great, since so many of the program's cross into chemistry or biology that the breadth of perspectives is useful. For those that don't know, I'm a biochemist that has been in both biology and chemistry programs.
  8. I love the portability of my air, but I have a desktop at work that balances it out. I think power wise you'll be fine with a newer model 13" air, and they have the best battery life of the lineup. I would personally invest in a good monitor for work/home so you have a bigger screen to work on when you need it. I use dual 24" monitors at work and love the room for writing and analysis- I can tile 4 full size documents easily.
  9. That's one of the reasons older macs were so reliable- they tended to use server grade components as opposed to, as you say, Costco grade. The benefit of an apple refurbished one is that it comes with the same warranty as a new one- a lot of other places can't (or won't) do the same.
  10. The only things like this I would add to my CV are those that I consider particularly applicable. For me, this pretty much boils down to pedagogy courses (since I'm in the SLAC market). So when I take a short course or MOOC on, say, integrating research into the undergraduate curriculum, it goes onto my CV under professional development, and shows that I'm making an effort to grow and keep current in pedagogical strategies. It's the same heading I put in-person workshops and short courses under.
  11. I think you're over-generalizing what "most" people do in the sciences. In my current Chemistry department, it's about a 50:50 split, with the edge slightly to Macs. In my graduate chemistry department, it was slightly more Macs than PCs. In the bio programs I collaborate with, Macs are more common than PCs. In my current school's Science division as a whole, there are definitely more Macs than PCs. There are definitely Mac/PC issues in Office, but that's why people upthread are recommending that the OP wait and see what their research group uses. For instance, when I started grad school I had a PC, and had to switch to Mac because that was the prevalent OS. As to some of your more direct comparisons, keep this in mind: You can run Windows on a Mac, but (for the most part) you can't run OSX on a PC. Technically, that makes getting a Mac the "safer" bet if you don't know what colleagues will be using, since you can always take your Mac, install Windows, and remove any potential compatibility issues.
  12. But the vast majority of computers can do that. My 2010 MacBook Air can run multiple tabs of research papers easily while I'm writing. That's kinda my point. The average computer now is built for doing high res 3D modeling, when the average user is, well, reading lots of websites and writing things.
  13. That's not really how typical scores work. Rarely are they taken as an important criteria in a case like yours (great letters, good research experience) unless they're below a hard cutoff set by the school.
  14. Are the GRE scores you're seeing cutoffs, or typical scores? They're very different things for what you're asking. Minimums are things below which the graduate school will not admit a student without an exemption- typical scores are just what the average student usually has.
  15. Not guaranteed, but highly increased likelihood. Most admission committees will forward applicants to faculty they feel like would be the best fit, and see if there's strong interest. A department can go against minimum scores for the school, but it requires a lot of political capital- they have to not just want you, but want you enough to fight for you. That said, school minimums are usually pretty low. As long as you stay above a 3.0, you should be OK there- and I don't know any schools that set GRE minimums offhand.