Biology (and just about everything else)

By Oliver Engel | Blogger | SQ Online (2013-2014)

Greetings, fellow sleep-deprived UC San Diego students! My name is Oliver, and I’m a first-year human biology major from Muir College. A bit about myself: I love history, art, literature, politics, and, most importantly, biology. I have been fortunate enough to be selected to write for a blog that encompasses many of my passions, and hopefully inspires new interests in you as well.

My blog, Biology and Just About Everything Else, will revolve around biology and its intersection with topics like those I have previously listed–art, history, literature, politics, and the like–in hopes of fostering interdisciplinary interests and providing enjoyable and exciting concepts to the UCSD undergraduate community.

Biology isn’t just a hard science. It’s a study that shapes historical and current events, inspires authors and artists, and raises some difficult ethical questions in everyday life. I think that it’s important to realize that not every biology major will go on to become a physician or life science researcher (and let’s be honest, 90% of our freshman are premed until CHEM 6A grades crush their hopes and dreams). I also believe that we, as biology students, need to put our passion in perspective.

Sure, you’ve memorized the cellular mechanics involved in oxidative phosphorylation and the location and connections of every muscle from the orbicularis oris to the gastrocnemius. However, what we often overlook is the implications, both good and bad, of our knowledge of biology and science in general. For example, scientific interests may have led to horrific experiments such as those that inspired Shelley’s Frankenstein, but have also brought about advances in topics like genetics and have thus revolutionized criminology and anthropology. In short, there’s no escaping the fact that biology is much more than cells and medicine. So joke about social science and art majors as much as you want, but you’re just as much of a historian and artist as they are!

Now, I’m not arguing that all of you biology majors should go out and strive to become the next da Vinci. Maybe you will become completely focused on biology in your future career, and of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I believe that exposing yourself to interdisciplinary thought is one of the most important things that you can do as a student preparing to enter a field that demands as much creative thinking as art and literature, and as much intellectual collaboration as the social sciences.

I plan on writing about everything from stem cells and evolution to pirates and modern art in a way that is not only thought provoking, but engaging and humorous as well. Look out for interviews with current UCSD professors, my own personal course recommendations, and of course, dry humor that could only be appreciated by us neurotic biology majors!