CS + Biology Musings: Help the misguided undergrad!

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CS + Biology Musings: Help the misguided undergrad!

Postby NyteBlade » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:24 pm UTC

I need some advice from the academics among the community here on choosing a different "direction" in college to take so to speak.
I go to a college which has intern/co-op as part of the program, so that makes the schedule a bit strange. I also have some transfer credit, which makes things even stranger. I'm a computer science major, and I have about 4 academic quarters left with plenty of room for about any class - plenty of opportunity to explore!

I started off in CS pretty enthusiastic, being a hardcore computer geek. I thought about being a web programmer of some sort. After my freshmen year, my enthusiasm sort of dwindled in the CS world. I sort of auto-piloted through the middle years, and here I am without much of an interest in pure CS and only a handful of CS electives that I still need to take. I'm hoping some of you here with more experience will tell me whether I'm barking up the wrong tree or not. :D

- About a year ago, I took Freshmen Biology the entire summer. The entire first-year sequence. An entire quarter of just full-time Biology was a bit hectic, but I really enjoyed it. Dissecting a squid as far different the normal CS stuff, so Biology has sort of become a interest of mine.
- I've been interning as a software tester. All day in a dark cubicle staring at a computer screen has killed my morale. I couldn't do it for a living. My years of geekitude have given me tendinitis in my hands and a bit of a back problem developing - I don't think a job where movement is frowned is for me. I don't want to be airdropped in an amazon rainforest, but a field that lends itself to more physical activity than CS I think would be awesome.
- I don't like programming. With that said, I think it's cool to hear about a problem, apply logic, and design a solution that solves it. Actually sitting down and programming isn't really my cup of tea - which I think might be blasphemous in the CS field. :wink:
- I'm not a great student. Don't get me wrong, I do try and I've made it this far - I do decently in most things college-related, but I'm awful at Calculus math and above. My GPA thus far is about a 2.95, and I haven't really got to know any professors, so I'm not too sure how easy it would be for me to move up the academic totem pole.

With all of that said, I'm thinking about taking some environmental science/additional biology courses and seeing what fields are out there where a degree in CS would be helpful. I wouldn't mind going higher and getting a master's degree, but I'm not sure if this is possible being a mediocre student (especially getting someone to pay that isn't me). Am I barking up the wrong tree here? Is there a demand for CS + Biology/Environmental science that I could enjoy doing? Ideas/comments/feedback would be greatly appreciated! :)

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Re: CS + Biology Musings: Help the misguided undergrad!

Postby MadParrot » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:38 pm UTC

Have you considered some bioinformatics subjects? Like you, I studied biol and IT at uni and ended up in a bioinf job where I spend maybee 50% of my time using 3rd party tools for analysis, and the other half doing softcore programming. That's molecular though, I know nuthin 'bout environment personally. Metagenomics of tailings dams? lol.

BUT - I can't help but imagine environmental people would need an computer analysis guy too, where theres data, somebodys gotta organise it.... (and from my experience, some biology-oriented people seem to avoid the more software/database stuff, let alone coding => so perhaps an opening for you?).

Else maybe get a job carrying intersting looking equipement eo exotic locations to do mysterious measurement stuff.

Go for it I reckon :)

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Re: CS + Biology Musings: Help the misguided undergrad!

Postby Sartorius » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:27 am UTC

As has been suggested, bioinformatics is one way to combine Biology and CS. You might also consider a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) major assuming your school has one or at least a few classes in it. Getting a job in Environmental Science almost requires GIS now.
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Re: CS + Biology Musings: Help the misguided undergrad!

Postby meatyochre » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:48 am UTC

NyteBlade wrote:I think it's cool to hear about a problem, apply logic, and design a solution that solves it. Actually sitting down and programming isn't really my cup of tea - which I think might be blasphemous in the CS field.

Here's my observation from when I was a CIT major. CIT = information technology (at my college, I don't know if CIT is a common program elsewhere or not). CIT for us was more of the soft skills of computing, a combination of business/people skills with technological prowess. We did have to take programming classes, but it wasn't the primary focus of the degree by any means. Project management or systems analysis may be fields worth looking into. Systems analysis is pretty much exactly what you said you like doing. You gather a system's requirements from a company, do flowchart analyses and problem-solving, and then once you have the whole tech system planned out, you hand it off to your coders to implement.
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