From Gibbs Free Energy to the Golgi Apparatus - The fading distinction between the sciences

Spring 2015

Joan Miguel Romero

Schulich Leader at University of Toronto

As this academic year has culminated, I can recall the terms, techniques, pathways and proteins that I have learned. This new lexicon unlocks entire avenues of knowledge previously hidden. It prepares us to master the language of our disciplines, which allows us to contribute to the fields in the future. This is one of the greatest enjoyments I have had throughout my academic career. 
This year, I will continue my work in Dr. Arun Seth’s Laboratory as part of the Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology Summer Research Program at U of T. The more research experiences I encounter, the more I realize how cumbersome and frustrating it can be; you can spend a long amount of time carrying out an experiment, to find that the results are not significant. However, the negative aspects pale in comparison to the positive ones. Research, and particularly the setbacks, instils patience, convergent thinking, resilience and persistence. I have yet to acquire the patience, but I’m getting there. 
Aside from academics, I am a strong proponent of community involvement and extra-curricular activities. Furthermore, I have found that the skills gained in these activities are transferable to academics, and vice versa. As an executive of Vic for a Cure, a club devoted towards raising funds toward cancer research, I helped coordinate two events this year, using the same organizational abilities I use for my studies.  Maintaining a full-course load and being involved forces us to exercise time-management skills, among other things. 
Before university, we regard chemistry, physics, math, biology, and English as separate subjects. As I continue to take courses in science for the Pathobiology Specialist Program, the amalgamation between concepts becomes more apparent. Chemistry blurs into biology, as shown by the chemical reactions of the citric acid cycle in the mitochondria. Biology blurs into physics, demonstrated by the change in voltage across membranes that leads to the electric signals running through our brains. I am constantly reminded of the importance of clear communication and eloquence in science. As I prepare to write the MCAT, this convergence of subjects is even more explicit. 
This interdisciplinary approach to solving problems makes solving them more interesting. I think this is the purpose of science: to call on researchers from different fields across the globe, combining all the branches of science together in the humble hopes of augmenting our understanding of this enigma we are all bound to.