Hello and welcome to life post-storm Doris! I hope everyone is well, and not too many of your wheelie bins were lost in the chaos that was Thursday.
So, today I have decided to write a short piece about why I chose to study Biological Sciences at university. It was a question I posed to my flatmate earlier, and I genuinely found myself pausing as it seems like such a distant decision that the answer wasn’t initially clear. A-Levels were a stressful time for everyone – and somehow, I managed to sandwich all that exam stress between bonus stresses about careers and various bits and bobs about life and still generated a decision.
The first thing to admit to is that I loved human biology at school. It wouldn’t be fair to invest three years of my life, and quite a bit of cash, into an academic course I didn’t find interesting. But the truth is that before university, nobody really knows what it’s like. I signed up for Medical Physiology, read all the information on the website, glimpsed the reading list they had, but I still wasn’t 100% certain about what it all meant. Sure it’s great learning a lot about the heart; but what about it?
Flash forward to third year at university and I can honestly say that I know a lot about the heart. But that brings us nicely on to the next thing that I love about studying science: irrespective of how much is known, there is always more. The human body is made up of trillions of cells, and trying to figure out how everything works is a gigantic task. There are tonnes of things that we do and never think about, from heartbeats to the sensation of excitement, that are comprised of complex systems that are still being unravelled.
Another great thing is how even when something is discovered, there is always a chance of it getting debunked. I read a lot of publications for my essays and it’s always interesting reading the analysis of evidence and spotting that age-old, “But evidence from this study contradicts the findings of so… and so…” because it highlights how dynamic research is and how much interesting work is being generated out there. Nowadays, a lot of my lectures are focused on presenting data and getting students to analyse the experiments that led to a lot of the science that modern research is built on. It’s really easy to forget that behind any great and monumental discovery, are a lot of hard work and PhD students with no sleep.
So, that’s my general, but relatively personal take on why I love studying my course and why I’ll miss it a lot. The title of the post was inspired by a famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson which I’m sure you will all recognise: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” For me, science is a little like that in the sense that it’s about discovery, but it’s also a lot about building on things that are already out there and finding ways in which you could add to it and take it forwards.
Thanks for reading! And as usual, I have decided to leave you with a Ted Talk that is quite relevant to the dissertation I am writing (and it is super interesting, so enjoy!)