Background information: I'm not sure if this question belongs here; but i'll risk the down-votes to ask it.

I'm currently doing an undergraduate program, and it's in chemistry. I am torn between doing chemistry and biology and ideally the nicest compromise would be biochemistry. However I have a horrible ineptitude for biochemistry.

My question is, what subfields of chemistry work very closely with biology?

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    $\begingroup$ How is chemistry classified in terms of what? Do you mean subfields in chemistry like, e.g., organic synthesis or polymer sciences or something other than that? More information is necessary to get you a good answer here. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Sep 12, 2014 at 6:15
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    $\begingroup$ (as an aside, biochemistry is not easy, so don't let one course derail you from your true interests if that's where they lie) $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Sep 12, 2014 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ @jonsca i've edited the question. hmm I don't believe that the area where biology and chemistry meet is only biochemistry; if that made any sense $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Sep 12, 2014 at 6:18
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    $\begingroup$ It's closer, so thank you, but it's still a bit broad, I think. For instance, what beyond something like en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemistry#Subdisciplines are you looking for? There are certainly an almost uncountable number of sub-sub disciplines as well. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Sep 12, 2014 at 6:20
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    $\begingroup$ Don't base your choice on somewhat artificial subsets and their intersections in the field of chemistry. Ask yourself what are you good at and what despises you. Do you mind to spend hour after hour in organic synthesis and purification of the intermediates? Do you mind to calibrate a complex experimental setup and lift heavy math? Would you rather prefer to spend the least time in a lab and run calculations instead? Don't neglect the human factor! If you know that you won't get along with a particular supervisor, don't go there - even if the topic might seem interesting. $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2014 at 6:35

2 Answers 2


In addition to jonsca's link of chemistry subfields, Wikipedia also has a list of biochem subfields. Find what research interests you, perhaps not based on a course you've taken.

You can look up what professors are doing in their respective fields of research by visiting faculty research group sites online. Check out their publications, current projects, probably would be good to join a lab too. (I'm blindly assuming you're interested in research and/or graduate studies)

The list on Wikipedia first lists (for whatever reason these are "main branches" but I'm surprised biotech is categorized under "other branches"...):

  • Animal Biochemistry
  • Plant Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Metabolism
  • Immunology
  • Genetics
  • Enzymology

Getting into more or less random scopes of research topics which may or may not be within the above fields:

  • Biotechnology,
  • Bioluminescence,
  • Molecular chemistry,
  • Enzymatic Chemistry,
  • Genetic engineering,
  • Pharmaceuticals,
  • Endocrinology,
  • Hematology,
  • Nutrition,
  • Photosynthesis,
  • Environmental Chem,
  • Toxicology
  • (Probably many, many others...)

Too late to help the OP, but I noticed that biophysics wasn't mentioned.

The OP professed an "ineptitude for biochemistry". Given that they are presumably comfortable with chemistry (wanting a biological field related to chemistry), I'd guess there's a chance the aversion to biochemistry comes from its enormous complexity, and the attendant enormous body of information that needs to be memorized to become proficient.

If that's the case, and what appeals to the OP is the conceptual beauty of chemistry, they might want to consider biophysics, which combines physical/theoretical chemistry (or physics) with biology.


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