I'm probably doing overkill trying to learn a bit of everything, but here's my story. I have a B.S. in Math with a minor in Microbiology, and I'm currently taking Computer Science courses online to meet the pre-requisites for a Master's in CS where I'll focus on machine learning. I want my thesis to be on the Molecular Modeling of a cellular process.

After receiving my Master's, because I want more research experience (and it will count as job experience for indistry), I want to work as a paid research assistant to a laboratory where I help code machine learning algorithms to aid biological modeling.

Let's say I do this for 3-4 years and I have permission to take up to three courses each fall/spring as a non-degree seeking student (realistic?). Would taking courses such as:

Physics: Modern Physics, Stachistical Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Quantum Mechanics, Computational Physics, Biophysics.


Chemistry: Physical Chemistry, Analytic Chemistry, Intermediate/advanced Organic Chemistry, Reaction Kinetics, Intro to drug discovery.

Be beneficial to me?

Sorry if this is too opinion based or off topic. However, what will probably benefit me the most when I get to a research assistantship, is that I'll speak to faculty and they'll direct me on what courses to take. I'd still like your input though before the post is removed.

  • $\begingroup$ I think as you said it might be a bit too broad/opinion based for us to answer. Really any of these course could be beneficial or not depending on the particular focus of your thesis and the type of biological modeling you are going to do. Until you have more detail on that, we are kind of just guessing at what could be useful for you. Once you do, we could be some help, but again as you said your advisor will probably know better once you get to that point. @BryanAardvark $\endgroup$ – Tyberius Nov 23 '18 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ M.ghorabs answer is an example of this. I think it's a good answer that describes what would be useful for a particular program of biological research, but I could think of a program more focused on bioreactions and natural products that would require more emphasis on organic chemistry and kinetics and less on quantum mechanics. So the issue is that any advice we can give is going to depend heavily on the specifics of what you are looking to do, which you don't know yet. $\endgroup$ – Tyberius Nov 23 '18 at 19:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Consider asking this question in chat. $\endgroup$ – A.K. Nov 23 '18 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ I was a chemistry student and I would say Physical Chemistry helps, organic/analytical chemistry seems not quite useful. However, if you really wanna have a through understanding of physical chemistry, I guess courses in physics (possibly quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics, since we are dealing with a large number of molecules and atoms) help more; since you have a mathematical background, those courses may suit you more; because most of physical chemistry courses reduces mathematics part seriously (and for no good reason but they are difficult). $\endgroup$ – Charlie Chang Aug 26 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ I’m not sure my answer is correct since I have not done modeling in chemistry and different fields in chemistry is of quite different flavor. $\endgroup$ – Charlie Chang Aug 26 at 2:10

Someday I was wondering as you are doing but I think that now my confusion has lessened considerably after talking with experts in the field and enrolling in a master program of pharmaceutical chemistry and drug design.

Different kinds of simulations can be called modelling of cellular processes. The first are the rules of systems biology and the second are the rules of chemistry or more fundamentally, quantum chemistry.

An example of systems biology is the simulation of the heart muscle fiber. a single cell, contractility as a function of the different ions concentrations, K, Ca, Cl, Na, etc.

The rules of quantum mechanics when applied to systems of atoms and molecules yields quantum chemistry. Quantum chemistry can calculate the tendency of a certain chemical reaction a function of the electron density and energy in certain regions. Molecular Mechanics and Molecular dynamics are more convenient when simulating bigger systems, larger number of atoms and molecules. With large number of molecules statistical mechanics must be taken into account to realistically simulate the relative population of molecules that have a certain energy.

In you question, I don't think that analytical chemistry has any thing to with computer simulation of cellular processes. From the the disciplines you outlined I thank that you are more interested in Quantum chemistry/Molecular mechanics/Molecular dynamics than that of systems biology. In my opinion you have to focus on: Physical chemistry, quantum chemistry, statistical thermodynamics, Drug discovery and design. Also, In order to understand molecular dynamics you must have a background in motion laws of newton.

Occasionally you will need to gain a background in some specific points but, however, mastering the basics of the disciplines I mentioned will give you a comfortable platform from which you can move to your target easily.


| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.