Why Major X Amplified - Chemistry

Since you have expressed an interest in Applied Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology, Mathematics or Physics, we would like to know a bit more about you. (Please limit your total response to the following 2 questions to 350 words.)

1. Tell us about a skill or concept related to your anticipated area of study, that you found challenging and rewarding to learn.

2. Please list the courses, including those you may have taken outside your secondary school, that relate to your chosen field.

As I explained in another answer, I am most engaged by the subjects that answer the question, “Why?” This is what makes chemistry one of the most fascinating subjects I’ve ever studied. Everything is explained and understood with chemistry. Take the most basic of things needed for human survival: food. We wouldn’t be able to understand why Julia Child’s cooking tastes so good (not that I know from personal experience), and we wouldn’t be able to understand nutrition labels (not that I read them anyway—ignorance is bliss) without chemistry. And beyond the basics, chemistry makes our lives better in innumerable ways. We wouldn’t have many of the life-saving drugs we have today were it not for chemistry.

At school, I have taken college-preparatory chemistry, as a sophomore, and AP chemistry, as a junior. I had a phenomenal chemistry teacher sophomore year, and I think that’s what really sparked my interest in chemistry and helped me decide to go ahead and take AP chemistry as a junior, instead of physics which juniors at my high school usually take. My AP chemistry class was extremely difficult, but I loved every second of it, especially the labs, and I am proud of my eventual mastery of the basics of organic chemistry.

And because I enjoy learning chemistry simply for the sake of learning chemistry (I mean, let’s be honest, it’s just cool to know why stuff blows up), I truly enjoyed attending Another University's STEM program this past summer. It was a by invitation only, weeklong camp lead by some of the professors in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at the university. At the camp, I developed and conducted a small research project around the study of compounds in the Echinacea plant, I got to see (but not touch) a mass spectrometer (apparently they’re kind of expensive), and I was able to learn in college-level lectures. Two of the lectures I will never forget are the ethnobotany and nuclear chemistry lectures –ethnobotany because it is still lost on me, and nuclear chemistry because I understood it and realized just how very cool it is.

So, while I’m still not absolutely, positively sure that Chemistry will end up as my concentration at Brown (as I noted in my answer to another question, I love Political Science too), it is a strong contender and I definitely want the option available to me. Because, really, at the end of the day, it seems like it would be a shame not to capitalize on mastering the basics of organic chemistry and get to find out the “why?” behind everything, doesn’t it?