1.5 Physics and chemistry

Integrating physics and chemistry into biological contexts seemed difficult at first, however, in reality, they intertwine quite a lot in biology, specifically in biochemistry. In the first semester of biochemistry, we investigated the metabolism of ethanol using ADH. It was interesting to do this project because I had not done anything like it before and it was cool to apply a real-world topic to something that occurs inside the body. This lab proved that individuals that have lower levels of ADH become intoxicated faster while individuals with higher levels of ADH take longer to become intoxicated since ADH catalyzes the metabolism of ethanol. This incorporated topics of chemistry and physics because we investigated metabolism which is a major topic in chemistry as well as the velocities of the mixtures which is a major topic in physics.

I have also taken two semesters of physics during my time at Longwood. The first semester did not go too in-depth on biology-related material, however, the second semester incorporated a lot more biology-specific topics! I have enjoyed physics a lot throughout the past two semesters because it has come easier for me to learn and I think it is interesting the way each topic can be related to the next and build off each other. One of the topics that directly related to biology was when we learned about the electricity within the human heart. It was really interesting to learn about pacemakers and electrocardiograms. Electricity is a major topic in physics and being able to relate it back to the human body and how it allows the human heart to function properly is fascinating.

I also took organic chemistry freshman year. During that time we were able to apply complex chemistry topics to biological ideas. For example, one lab assignment was to review specific literature and analyze it. During this process, I was able to recognize and research how thalidomide can cause certain birth defects and why/ how that occurs. Thalidomide is a common teratogen that disrupts the embryo inside a person’s womb during development. Through the analysis of the literature, I was able to learn that there are certain isomers of the chemical thalidomide that specifically cause disruptions in the development of an embryo or fetus. I found this particularly interesting because I had previously heard about thalidomide and being able to learn about the specific variations of the chemical through organic chemistry opened my eyes to a lot of other examples like this that can be applied through chemistry and biology.

Through these courses, I have been able to grow my understanding of Physics and Chemistry and how they all related back to biology and everything around us. It has been interesting to see, as I look back at my previous courses, how everything is related. I have grown to not focus on just the biology portion of courses and consider other disciplines such as physics and chemistry to deepen my understanding of the material. This was especially evident after I took my first semester of physics because I was able to relate past experiences in other classes such as anatomy and physiology to the topics we were learning in class.