1.5 Integrate physics and chemistry concepts into relevant biological contexts

I learned in my very first CHEM 111 class that chemistry is the central science and is therefore relevant in all aspects of biology. I quickly learned the truth of this when all of my biology classes would begin with a summary of basic chemistry.

One of the earliest classes I took that integrated these two disciplines was toxicology. Our final project was to conduct a risk assessment on a superfund site and discsus how that chemical affected the human body through different exposure routes. While a lot of this was about biological reactions and anatomy, the chemical makeup of the target molecule of my superfund site, TCE, was extremely important to understand the implications of the exposure. I believe that understanding basic chemical makeup and how chemical compounds can affect the body is a crucial concept in biology that involves both chemistry and physics.

In my upper level chemistry class, CHEM 350, our final poster presentation was about determining the presence of nitrogen in vegetable and water samples. This was a chemistry class where biology was important, as we used concepts such as nitrogen fixation to create the basis of our project. This was a lab intensive presentation, so it was very neat to see how biology can be so heavily influencing in a chemistry lab setting.

Physics is also a core concept in the field of biology, as some basic principles are necessary to understand the study of life on earth. During my last semester at Longwood, I took Field Ornithology. In this class, we learned about flight mechanics of birds, which was heavily based around physics. Having to take physics to earn my degree seemed daunting while taking it, but I’m glad I had basic physics knowledge as I went into my upper level courses. It would have been much harder for me to understand flight mechanics without the knowledge of how objects are affected by wind depending on size, positioning, etc., which is what I learned in physics 120 and 121.

In this same ornithology class, I am writing a research proposal on how bird collisions occur and how it is harmful to populations, and I plan on using my physics of flight knowledge to see how certain species are more prone to collisions based on their flight mechanics. (The full proposal will be complete by Spring 2023 research day)

I want to continue my biology career in ecology and at some point this could include species that use flight as their source of movement and migration. Knowing the physics behind how this works and how species are able to move based on the physics surrounding their anatomical makeup will help me better understand ecological relationships in the future.