BIOL398-03/S13:Class Journal Week 1

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User:Kevin Matthew McKay


  • When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind?
    • My most recent math class was linear algebra, so right now, vectors, vector spaces, and matrices come to mind when I think of mathematics.
  • Do you consider yourself a mathematician?
    • I do. I use math every day in class and in my life. I ask the same questions that other mathematicians have asked for years. Without the ability to count and manipulate numbers and variables my life would be a mess.
  • When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind?
    • I visualize many things when I hear the term biology. Sometimes I think of plants and animals. Other times I can see DNA coils winding and unwinding (probably the result of being force-fed the central dogma of biology for the last 8 years in school).
  • Do you consider yourself a biologist?
    • I do. I have had so much biology in my education and now I am taking that education and giving back through my research on instability in cardiac myocytes. I also do not plan to cease learning more biology in the future; we live in an ever changing world where there is new biology every day waiting to be observed, quantified, or tested upon.


  • What did you find most interesting about the Stewart reading?
    • I enjoyed the description of a rainbow. I have never heard anything like it, I had no idea that rainbows were personal. Optics is a really interesting field of study, and rainbows are an excellent example of natural optics at it's finest. Of course this was a great example of how math is important, none of Stewart's description would have been possible without math.
  • What did you find most interesting about the Janovy reading?
    • I have never really thought of the importance of studying something as seemingly unimportant as frogs, but Janovy makes a good argument for studying any part of our Mother Earth. If we really are this new species that Janovy says we are, then not studying the other species around us who have been here far longer would be a huge mistake. The reading gave importance to studying really anything, and I liked that. I am doing research with probabilistic cellular automata and studying the human heart. And I always felt that I needed to be studying some direct human phenomena, so this article is almost humbling, and a reality check. We are such an insignificant part of Earth and yet we have the capabilities to destroy it (and sadly we take advantage of these capabilities to the maximum).
  • What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist?
    • Being a biologist is not just studying, observing and testing natural phenomena. It is not enough to be up to date on the latest material or memorize the processes that go on in living organisms. Being a biologist means seeing the connections between all living things in this world. The idea that we are all interconnected is key to biologists, and key to us understanding our world which should be more of a priority in society than it is. I do consider myself a biologist. I care about our earth and educate myself on everything in my grasp. I want to learn more for my own fascination and so I can help others learn about our environment and how we can protect it. I love nature and would hate to see it destroyed forever.
  • What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician?
    • Being a mathematician is not just plugging in numbers and solving equations. It is seeing the math in nature, technology, and life. Everywhere we look there is math. And all phenomena in nature can be described mathematically. We learn the math behind nature so we can recognize patterns and come to understand how it relates to us. If we want to survive as a species and preserve nature then we need to be able to recognize the patterns of nature and see the similarities between ourselves and other species. I am a mathematician not only because I love math and practice it every day but because I see it in everything I do and appreciate what a powerful tool math is.
  • What are the similarities and differences between the two readings?

Well for one thing, they are both about severely misunderstood subjects of study. Or maybe not even subjects of study, but ways of life. People see math as numbers and equations, the Stewart reading points out this fact and that everything has math in it, but it works in the background. If math were blatant in all areas it is used we would be overwhelmed. The study of a frog seems so insignificant in our world today where money and power are everything. The more you have the more successful you are in life as a person. Society values monetary success over all and looks over biology or takes it for granted. Treats it like it is something that will be there forever, and as if we know everything there is to know about it. Well we have but merely scratched the surface, the vast majority of biology will go undiscovered and disappear into extinction long before we understand it. It is sad that people today cannot understand the value in studying a frog or some other species. And there are many people out there who do not know that they are biologists, they are too blinded by money to recognize it. Both readings also give the perspective of someone who made the choice to become a mathematician or biologist, of someone looking back on their life and knowing that they made the right career and life choice. They both also tell that technology has benefitted mathematics and biology, in math, providing opportunity for more math (as all technology involves math), and in biology, by giving biologists the tools necessary to study nature. The readings differ as well. The Stewart reading seems to be reassuring Meg that there is money in mathematics, so it is not something to be worried about. While the Janovy reading seems to bash any pursuit of monetary gain in place of becoming a biologist. Janovy does not really give hope to someone looking for financial benefit, maybe trying to attract those hardcore enough to study biology with no worry of money. The Stewart reading also stresses that seeing math in everyday life is easier than most people think, while the Janovy reading stresses more the importance of the seemingly unimportant biology or nature that we see blatantly in front of us everyday (it's pretty easy to go outside and look at your front lawn i.e. nature).

Kevin Matthew McKay 18:09, 19 January 2013 (EST)

User:Laura Terada

  • Before reading the Stewart chapters (on your honor), answer the following questions; When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind? Mathematics is a discipline that encompasses numbers, logic, equations, and theories. In my experience, math is a highly conceptual topic of study. Math requires learning how to reason and the methods one needs to reach an answer (or answers). Consequently, it is this process of reasoning that I find the most valuable in the field of mathematics in regards to my everyday life.
  • Do you consider yourself a mathematician? why or why not? I would consider myself a mathematician on a very basic level because I use math in other disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, and biology. All other science fields require a general knowledge on math concepts (e.g. probability, statistics, algebra, derivatives, etc.). I do not consider myself a highly skilled mathematician because I simply have not taken many math courses, and I do not have much knowledge on the subject.
  • Before reading the Janovy chapter (on your honor), answer the following questions; When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind? I think of all forms of life and everything that explains it. Biology is a study that embodies a broad range of topics including plants and animals, and the mechanisms by which they grow and develop. When I hear the term biology, I also think about how all living things relate to one another and the many comparisons scientists can draw between the different aspects of biology.
  • Do you consider yourself a biologist? why or why not? I consider myself a biologist not only because it is my major, but also because I feel like I am constantly thinking about different aspects of biology. I am always curious about why certain things are the way they are, and most times I try to find the explanation to these questions. To be a biologist, in my perspective, is to have this interest on gaining new knowledge on different aspects of life.
  • After reading the Stewart and Janovy chapters, answer the following questions:
  1. What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Stewart reading? The most interesting I found about the Stewart reading was all the examples he used in relating the study of mathematics to everyday life. In the previous question of "What do I think about when I hear the term math?" I discussed how mathematics is a study that can be applied to the other sciences. However, Stewart points out that math can be applied to the world outside of science. He gives examples such as GPS, plane flights, the Internet, modes of communication (e.g. cell phones), genetics, GMO crops, rainbows, and even animal movement. All these examples represent only a minute fraction of how math is applied in daily life. The most interesting example was when Stewart related the lattice structure of a crystal to the position of birds in a given area.
  2. What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Janovy reading? Janovy's argument on paradigms in biology is one that I found to be interesting. Janovy introduces this topic when discussing Thomas Kuhn, who defines what a paradigm is. Paradigms in biology are areas of study that are the most widely accepted. Janovy argues that "paradigms both direct and limit intellectual development" (Janovy 11). Later in his paper, Janovy gives an example of how scientists will apply for grants , often times with a statement of objective that leans towards the aim of the corporation. It is interesting to me that I notice this in today's society. There is a strong emphasis on the study of genetics in comparison to decades ago. This paradigm has influenced not only biologists, but also technicians and physicians as well. Another aspect of the Janovy reading that I found interesting was Janovy's theme of evolution throughout the chapter. He states that any scientist can relate their field of study to evolution (5). In his conclusion, Janovy ends with a comment on how biologists today have become so specialized in their work; however, it is this specialization that will drive one to "role extinction." The basis of biology, however, is to instead broaden one's view, exactly like the naturalist.
  3. What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not? What I find interesting about the Janovy reading is both the similarities and differences he makes between biologists and nonbiologists. An early biologist, which one can think of as a naturalist, would consider humans as just another species in the existence of the biosphere. In contrast, the rest of the public community tends to focus on a culture centered on humans. Janovy argues that a biologist should continue naturalist ideals. He uses individuals such as Thomas Hunt Morgan, Jacques Monod, and Charles Darwin to exemplify how successful biologists were attached to the world of living organisms since an early age (Janovy 6). Having an interest in the natural world is only one aspect of what it means to be a biologist. Janovy continues to discuss how biologists perceive their surroundings. He contends that biologists see complexity through uniformity, they tend to pose questions, and they also sense interdependencies in the environment around them (19). Janovy also discusses the attributes of a modern-day biologist. Since World War II, technological advances have become intertwined into the field of biology. Today, biologists use tools; however, they tend to not uphold the values and world views of a naturalist. The study of biology requires a knowledge on computers and math in order to reach biological conclusions. Janovy clarifies his argument by discussing how biology has become interdisciplinary-- relying on other sciences such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, and even the social sciences. Although these are descriptions of the present-day biologist, Janovy concludes that biologists need to not stray away from the original values and worldviews of a naturalist.
    • After reading the Janovy reading, I still consider myself a biologist. Like Morgan, Monod, and Darwin, I found myself interested in living organisms since a young age. Although I have learned and performed various technological methods to determine biological conclusions, I still value and revel in nature, which is what Janovy considers to be a vital attribute of a biologist. I try to surround myself with the natural environment at every opportunity.
  4. What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician? Why or why not? In the Stewart reading, a mathematician is one that can not only see patterns in various settings, but is one who can mathematically justify why these patterns occur. For example, Stewart is able to relate an atom's crystal lattice structure to bird positions, and he can even mathematically deduce why rainbows exist.
    • After reading the Stewart reading, I still do not consider myself an actual mathematician. Stewart is an individual who bridges the gap between mathematics and nature. In contrast, I do not see patterns in the environment to the extent that he does. For example, of course I have noticed the shape of a rainbow; however, I have never thought about the mathematical reasoning behind it. From this reading, I hope to become more aware of the significance of math in my daily life.
  5. What are the similarities and differences between the two readings? Both readings make distinctions between how the field of study is perceived by the general public and what it actually is. In the Janovy reading, he argues that biology is understood to be a field of technological tests, drawing from other disciplines. However, the root of biology should be in the value of nature. Similarly, Stewart claims that the notion of the public on mathematics is that it is simply a field of numbers. In reality, math is responsible for many things we need on an everyday basis. In a sense, math is devalued because of its obscure role in society.
    • Another similarity between the two readings is that both biologists and mathematicians have a distinct way of thought that is dissimilar from other individuals. Biologists tend to think of humans as another species, whereas society puts more value on humans over other species. Similarly, Stewart contends that mathematicians think differently as well, as noted in the last paragraph of chapter 5. Mathematicians tend to see trends and patterns in their surroundings, which math can explain.
    • Although both readings display similarities, they are also different. Firstly, Janovy argues that most biologists lose sight of what it truly means to be a biologist, which is upholding a passion for nature and living organisms. Instead, modern-day biologists may get caught up in paradigms and other influences. In contrast, Stewart suggests that mathematicians are the only ones that understand the true meaning of math, which is the fact that math can be used in everyday life, including in nature. The public, however, is the group of individuals who have the misconceptions on the field of study. Secondly, the Janovy reading proposes that although nature and evolution are the main pillars of biology, biology today is a study which encompasses the other sciences. In contrast, Stewart poses that it is mathematics that highly contributes to other disciplines.

Laura Terada 04:53, 19 January 2013 (EST)

James P. McDonald Week 1 Journal

Before Reading

  1. When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind?
    • When I think of mathematics, I think of solving problems using numbers, logic and equations. Mathematics is very intellectual and solving problems in math is almost like completing a puzzle.
  2. Do you consider yourself a mathematician? Why or why not?
    • I do not really consider myself a mathematician. To me a mathematician is someone who has studied a lot of math and has a solid understanding of many the concepts. I do not think I have a great knowledge when it comes to math. Although I do use some math in my everyday life, it is simple and not to the level of someone who I would think of as a mathematician.
  3. When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind?
    • I immediately think of all the living things in the world around us. I think of plants, animals and microorganisms. For me the biggest thing that comes to mind is the human body. I have always been interested in the human body. I often think about how it is composed and how we function on a daily basis.
  4. Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not?
    • I do consider myself a biologist. I have always been interested in biology from a young age and I have been learning about it for as long as I can remember. I think that I have amassed a lot of knowledge when it comes to biology. I find that biology is one subject that I always want to know more about. I know that advances in biology are constantly being made and this keeps me interested to continue learning.

After Reading

  1. What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Stewart reading?
    • I found Stewart's discussion about the red stickers to be most interesting. He believes that the public has the wrong view about mathematics and he wishes that could be changed. He suggests putting a red sticker on everything that uses mathematics that says "Math Inside." He makes the point that math is in almost everything in our world today but nobody knows it or appreciates it. It was interesting to see how many examples have math in them, including vegetables. Many would not think of the math that goes into commercial breeding. I found this point to be very interesting as I have always had an interest in genetics but I have not fully thought about all the mathematical methods that go into it.
  2. What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Janovy reading?
    • I found the author's story about his encounter with the woman at the high school volleyball tournament to be most interesting. He talks about discussing his work and the work of his colleague to the woman. It was interesting to see the two different perspectives they had about the conversation. Janovy thought his colleague's work was interesting and important. He knows his colleague as a well respected man who does important work for the further development of biology. It was funny to see that the woman did not exactly agree. She gave a look of disapproval when she learned that the colleague did work on frogs in South America. She does not see this work as beneficial to our society. As Janovy says, this work will not cure cancer or stop pollution, so most people may not see the benefits of the work. I liked that Janovy was able to defend his own position as biologist. He saw the work as beneficial to ultimately contribute to overall view of the world. Without research such as this our knowledge about our world will cease to grow. It was interesting to see the two different trains of thought between them.
  3. What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not?
    • A biologist is one who has an interest and an inherent attachment to the world of living organisms. A biologist knows and understands that each living organisms has levels and levels of complexity. They understand that there is very little understood about living things and that there is much more to learn. A biologist has the drive to continue to search for new answers and continue to learn more and more about the world around us. Biologists want to know more and hope to discover it. I still consider myself a biologist. I share a lot of the traits that Janovy discusses. I know that biology is a field where still little is known and I like that about it. I want to know more about the world around us and I look forward to learning new things about biology.
  4. What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician? Why or why not?
    • There is more to being a mathematician than using numbers and equations to solve math-related problems. A mathematician sees math everywhere and can use math to create many new technologies. According to Stewart, we see mathematicians around us all the time but we almost never notice. A mathematician sees mathematical patterns in their everyday life, such as noticing the spacing of birds on a wire. I still do not consider myself a mathematician. I do not often notice math in my everyday life. I have rarely noticed any type of mathematical patterns in my life or thought about how to mathematically explain a rainbow. I think I could learn to become a mathematician, but at this point I do not think the way a mathematician most often does.
  5. What are the similarities and differences between the two readings?
    • Similarly, in both readings, both authors make the point that their respective field of studies are often misunderstood. The authors seem to feel that general public have misinformed opinions about their fields that are often too specific and limited. Stewart demonstrates that math is everywhere. It is not just numbers written on paper but it is the foundation of many advancements in our world today. Janovy also shows that there is more to biology than what is on the surface. When he is speaking about the frogs in the south america, most people would not see the significance of this but Janovy does. He argues that biologists appreciate these studies because they contribute to our understanding of the world. The authors believe people in their own fields of study think differently than others. A mathematician notices patterns in nature and can rationalize them mathematically. A biologist sees the importance in various studies that may not seem significant on the surface, but will contribute to our biological knowledge long term. It seems that the authors think the general public does not fully understand what they do and how important their fields of study are.
    • There are differences in the readings as well. One, in the Janovy reading when he tells others he is a biologist they have the impression that they do not make much money. And the author does not say much to contradict this point. In Stewart's reading, he explains that there is a ton of potential to make a lot of money as he list off some of the new, very successful technologies that were created with math. Another difference is seen tn the Janovy reading as he explains that in biology not much is known and biologists need to actively go out and look for answers. He thinks a good biologist will seek out the answers to questions about the world. Stewart seems to have a different philosophy as he explains that anyone can see math in nature and it is just a matter of noticing different patterns that can make one a mathematician. Janovy also mentions that worldviews between fields of studies seem to vary dramatically, showing that every field of study has unique ideas about the world. I think there is potential for these views to come together and complement each other, just as math can complement biology and vice versa, as they do in genetics.

Kasey E. O'Connor Week 1 Journal

Before Stewart
  • When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind?
    Hearing mathematics, I instantly think of all the numerous math courses I have taken over the years. Not only do I think of more numerical classes like Calc and Algebra with formulas like the quadratic formula, but I also think about all of the proofs I've done since taking MATH 248 and MATH 321 that are not typically thought of when it comes to mathematics.
  • Do you consider yourself a mathematician?
    I do consider myself to be a mathematician. Taking and loving math classes since 7th grade proves to me that I am a mathematician. I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the subject than many people.
Before Janovy
  • When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind?
    My first thought when I hear the term biology is cells. I then think of all of the systems of the cell, and how those affect the tissues, organs, organ systems, and organisms that are made up of these microscopic things. I am instantly in awe of the way that biology works, and it amazes me how many things there are left to learn.
  • Do you consider yourself a biologist?
    Similar to mathematics, I feel that my appreciation and understanding of the subject qualifies me as a biologist. It is more than just being able to recite facts, but being able to grasp how everything is intertwined that makes you into a biologist.
  • What did you find most interesting about the Stewart reading?
    My favorite part of the Stewart reading was the very beginning when he gave all the examples of careers that his past students were in. Every time I tell someone I am a math major, I get the same exact question: "What are you going to do with that?" It is so nice to read more evidence that there are a multitude of jobs in which having a math major is helpful. It also shows how diverse the skills we learn through our classes are. We are not just restricted to using formulas, finding areas, or taking derivatives, but we learn problem solving skills and critical thinking that can be applied across the board. It was also interesting that he pointed out how people do not understand how much math is in every day life. Everyone thinks that there is no point in taking a math class, and no way to apply it, but without math there would be no computers, no beer, no buildings, etc.
  • What did you find most interesting about the Janovy reading?
    I thought it was so interesting the way that Janovy was able to connect art to biology. I enjoyed that he started with a personal story about the journal of his father, and then gave historical examples to further prove his point. We rarely think about art in conjunction with biology, in fact we see them as complete opposites, so seeing that art is a very integral part of biological research is something unexpected. This shows that biology is much more than memorization and learning all of the parts of the cells. Not only are computers, microscopes, and other electronic devices considered tools of biology, so is the simple subject of art. Like the subject itself, doing the research is full of many layers that appear unrelated, but actually are not.
  • What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist?
    According to Janovy, a biologist has an attachment to the world of living organisms. He or she is able to understand how everything is intertwined and connected through out the world. There must be an appreciation for the relationships between and the complexity of the interactions between all living things. Biologists are responsible for doing all the discoveries of the world that we are just now beginning to understand. They see beyond the surface into the structure, process and complexity. Even after the reading, I still do consider myself to be a biologist. I love gaining a deeper understanding of the way all of life works. I like all kinds of animals, and like Janovy, could spend hours at the zoo just watching the animals.
  • What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician?
    A mathematician sees the patterns found in nature and works to understand why they occur. All of the biological observations, even the rainbow or how birds fly, can be explained with mathematics. Using Stewart's idea of mathematics, I would consider myself a mathematician. I can see math all the time, and am constantly thinking about it. Classes like MATH 190 have given me more insight into math in every day, and I now have a deeper understanding of the way it is connected to the natural world.
  • What are the similarities and differences between the two readings?
    Similarities: Both of the articles showed how unappreciated the fields of biology and mathematics are. Both authors expressed how under appreciated their subjects are. The authors also were able to show the importance of studying nature and its affect on the specific subject of study. Janovy, more obviously since biology is the study of life, talked about the encounters in nature, like the birds and the frogs. Likewise, Stewart showed how math can be seen in biology through observing the way bird fly and its mathematical pattern. One last similarity in the articles was that the authors both expressed the fact that math and biology have so much more that will still be discovered.
    Differences: The Janovy article focused more on the fact that the subject of biology was not correctly being taught to students, and there was too much focus on monetary gain and not on the true purpose of biology. He has claimed that some biologists have lost the true meaning of what biology is, and have forgotten to look at the in between. In contrast, the Stewart letters were more reassuring to Meg that there was going to be money and success in mathematics. Although he did talk about what being a mathematician entails and was not completely surface level, his seemed more superficial than the Janovy article. Both articles imply that their field of study is the most important, an idea which must be left to personal interpretation.

Kasey E. O'Connor 00:27, 22 January 2013 (EST)

Anthony J. Wavrin Week 1

Before Stewart

  1. When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind?
    • When I hear the term mathematics, I think of numbers. More specifically, mathematics is the use of numbers. Thus, this would be the use of functions to solve problems
  2. Do you consider yourself a mathematician? why or why not?
    • I personally do not consider myself a mathematician. When I think of a mathematician, I think of someone who has a very vast knowledge of mathematics and has the ability to use them in advanced ways. Basically to me, a mathematician is a master of mathematics. Using that definition, I am definitely not a master of mathematics therefore I do not consider myself a mathematician.

Before Janovy

  1. When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind?
    • When I hear the term biology, I think of life. I think of everything that is living and how all of it combined is what makes up biology of the whole. Bio means life and ology means the study of. Therefore life in general is what comes to mind.
  2. Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not?
    • I do consider myself a biologist. When I think of the term biologist, I think of someone who has a knowledge of biology and applies this knowledge to problems. Since I apply the knowledge I learn in class and in research, I would consider myself a biologist.


  1. What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Stewart reading?
    • The main thing I found really interesting is his approach to the question of what people can actually do with a math major. In my experience majoring in math has been grouped into the subset of majors that you can only teach with, another example would be physics. However, he delves into the different things that require a high level of mathematics and essentially shows that behind almost everything there is a lot of math. This fact is hidden due to the fact that this knowledge isn’t transparent to the public.
  2. What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Janovy reading?
    • The most interesting thing in the Janovy reading was the rejection of some research by society. The story in the reading is that a researcher’s wife tells someone that her husband does research on frogs and it wasn’t accepted by the person but, the author said he did research on virulence factors and that was acceptable. However, in reality the research on organisms that aren’t human actually contribute very important information that can be used to make very important and impactful decisions.
  3. What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not?
    • My definition of being a biologist has changed quite drastically after the reading. However, the overall notion is still the same; someone who attempts to understand biology, some form of life. What has changed is the level of training required and the values and views that are necessary. I think there is some necessary basic knowledge that must be understood to actually be a biologist however; it is much more elementary than I previously thought. Also, one must have a value the importance of discovery and truly enjoy being curious. In addition, one must also have the ability to understand what they are doing, not just understanding how to do the task, it requires critical thinking. In regards to the new definition of being a biologist, I would still consider myself a biologist. I think that I have a strong belief in the endeavors I am pursuing and can personally not see myself not doing anything else. Additionally, I believe I have the elementary and critical thinking skills to be successful.
  4. What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician? Why or why not?
    • After the readings, I still have the same viewpoint of what a mathematician is. That a mathematician is one that has an understanding of advanced math and is able to use it to solve problems or design models. However, the difference from before the reading is that now I have a much more broad sense of working with number and solving problems. Mathematicians do not solely have to be dealing with pure math and proofs. Rather, they could be working with explaining natural phenomena. However, I still do not consider myself a mathematician because I do not use mathematics in a sophisticated way. I typically only use statistics when analyzing my data but, I would not consider that small act worthy of considering myself to be a mathematician.
  5. What are the similarities and differences between the two readings?
    • There were some similarities between the two readings, the largest being the importance of nature. It is not surprising that the biology reading had a strong nature presence but, the mathematician reading also had a large focus on nature and natural phenomena. Both readings described the importance of learning from nature. Another reoccurring theme was the power of observation and how it can be extremely enlightening. Lastly, the two readings were similar in that they both demonstrated how important it is that you enjoy nature. While there were similarities, there were also differences. I think the biggest difference was that in the biology reading, there was no need for an advanced understanding however, in the math reading it was clear that an “advanced” degree was needed to do the type of mathematics that was described. Another difference was that the biology author put a strong influence of earlier childhood into the love of biology however; the math reading didn’t touch how the early foundations of the love of math should occur.

Anthony J. Wavrin 00:05, 22 January 2013 (EST)

Paul N. Magnano: Week 1 Journal

Before Stewart

  • When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind? When I think of mathmatics I think of formulas, and calculations. I mostly envision that most professional mathmatics is somehow involved in engineering.
  • Do you consider yourself a mathematician? I do not consider myelf a mathmetician because to me, a mathmetician must genuinely enjoy math where as I do not. There are some times when I find mathmatics enjoyable, such as when I am trying to calculate what percent of my monthly budget does not have to go to rent, and can be spent on fun stuff like my motorcycle or going on a weekend trip. For the most part though I do not enjoy math.

Before Janovy

  • When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind? When I hear the term biology, I think of scientists in the field doing field research, as well as biologists working in a laboratory culturing specimens on petri plates.
  • Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not? I do consider myself a biologist mainly because I work a lot in a microbiology laboratory. A good portion of my work in the lab is simply culturing various kinds of microorganims, a skill that is necessary in a microbiology setting. I enjoy learning about microorganisms and that is why I feel like I am a biologist.


  1. What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Stewart reading? I really found it interesting how Stewart was able to connect mathmatics to a lot of life, but especially how he connected Biology to Mathmatics,specifically how he discussed that when genetics first went mathmatical. He expained how a large part of the human genome projects success was due to the mathmatical methods developed to analyze the experimental data that was collected. I never really thought about how mathmatics was connected to biology but that statement really made it clear just how vital their connection is to some of the advances in biology that we have witnessed.
  2. What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Janovy reading? The part where Janovy is talking with a woman at a volleyball tournament was very provacative to me, because in my own life I have encountered similar predjudices towards biology. Janovy describes the account with the woman and in it she clearly does not have any respect for or see value in certain aspects of biological research, such as studying frogs in south africa, like Janovy's colleage. As someone who has just barely stuck their foot in the door of the microbiology field (I work in a clinical microbiology laboratory) I can see everyday peoples views on biology. Many people tell me that it is good that I am working in the biology field when they hear about my internship, and some have even said that they thought it was great that I was pursuing a career in a "useful" area of Biology. This part of the reading really reminded me just how little a lot of the general public understands about the field of Biology, as well as the value and connections between its individual parts.
  3. What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not? I think that the main thing that defines being a Biologist means that you have an interest in living organisms, and wish to study them. I also think that to be a Biologist you have to have a desire to understand how different living organisms affect and interact with eachother. I do consider myself a biologist because I have a deep interest in learning, studying, and working with microrganisms, because they are the living organisms that I am most interested in.
  4. What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician? Why or why not? After reading the two Stewart chapters I would define a mathmatician as a person who not only uses math but can see it in everyday life. One person who I previously wouldnt have thought about or defined as a mathmatician is one of my friends that I ride motorcycles with on the weekends. A couple of weeks ago while we were in the canyons, he was telling me how he wished he could measure our lean angles so he could calculate what percent of our bikes maximum lean angle we were using, so we could improve our turns. I think about the same subject all the time, improving our turns, but while I view it as I just need to lean more he thinks about how math could help him optimize his learning and speed up his improvement in motorcycle riding. I would consider him a mathmatician, but I still do not consider myself one, because I really dont see everyday things in terms of math. I see things logically, and when something directly requires being thought of in math terms I do, but for the most part I dont.
  5. What are the similarities and differences between the two readings? Both readings had one main simmilarity and that was that the subjects they discussed were misunderstood. In Stewart's letters he describes how math is everywhere and connected to all of life, and really argues that people do not recognize maths overall significance and connection to everything else in the world. In the Janovy reading he talks about how biology is not only misunderstood, but how aspects of it are unappreciated by society, like the scientist that studies frogs in south africa. Janovy also talks more about how certain fields of biology are more praised by society, such as those relating to the medical field. The main difference between the two readings however, is that while they both discuss the monetary aspect of their fields, one speaks more positivley than the other. Stewart discusses the money tha can be made in mathmatics, mainly in the new technologies that are being developed, while Janovy discusses how he is often viewed as not making too much money (those that learn that he works in the field of biology often have this view of his monetary compensation).

Matthew E. Jurek Week 1

Before Stewart

  • When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind?

When I hear mathematics I think about numbers and the various computational processes that go along with numbers. I often think of algebra and simple tasks such as adding and subtracting. I also think about calculus and derivatives and the numerous functions that accompany calculus. The overarching theme of the word mathematics is the manipulation of numbers in my opinion.

  • Do you consider yourself a mathematician?

Yes and no. We all use math in our daily lives whether we notice it or not. The daily use of numbers could classify me as a mathematician. However, math is not my strongest subject and because of that I wouldn't consider myself a mathematician. To me, a mathematician is someone who enjoys working with numbers using things such as calculus and other equations. I wouldn't say I enjoy doing that, but I am capable.

Before Janovy

  • When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind?

Life. Life comes to mind as biology is the study of life. I think about animals and plants. More importantly I think about all the processes that occur to keep living things alive. This includes all the functions of organs within the body. Also, after taking a plant course I also think about how plants function. It's easy to forget about microbiology, but the smallest living specimens on earth are just as important so I think about that too.

  • Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not?

I would consider myself a biologist. As a biology major, I've had numerous encounters with the subject in a variety of ways. This includes taking a number of courses that touch on all aspects of biology. Furthermore, hands-on lab experiences have played a large role in my development as a biologist. I enjoy the various work I have done in lab and find it interesting to study biology. For these reasons, I would consider myself a biologist.


  • What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Stewart reading?

I found it interesting that Stewart mentions how math majors had the highest income based on a survey done by his university. I will admit that I often wonder what a math major plans to do after graduation. To be fair, I know a lot of people think the same thing about biology majors. It would appear Meg asked a similar question of Stewart in the first chapter. His response opened my eyes. He mentions how math plays a role in all of life. A great example was the story about farming. Now farmers utilize math to plan out crop rotations. Even the simplest things revolve around math. Although math is a rare major, the subject itself can be seen at the root of all life. As Stewart mentions, the possibilities really are endless for those studying math.

  • What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Janovy reading?

Janovy's analysis of a biologist in modern society was interesting to me because it is applicable to my life. While working at a volleyball game, his coworker felt Janovy's colleague studying frogs was not a beneficial member of society, so to speak. That illustrated the modern view of a biologist. Janovy, however, notes that this colleague was an extremely prominent scientist who was very successful in the work he did. It seems like biologists who choose to do something other than medical school receive this type of prejudice. I also found it interesting when Janovy discusses how humans are rather new to this planet. As a result, many biologists study things older than humans to better understand earth. I never really thought about the study of biology in this manner. I've always been interested in humans. However, it makes sense that humans are far from being the earth's first inhabitants. Studying other organisms makes sense and could even explain Janovy's colleague's interest in frogs.

  • What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not?

Janovy states that all biologists go through a period in which a nonhuman organism is held in high regard. It is also mentioned that a biologist is not chasing a salary, rather seeking to answer some area of curiosity. There's also the role of values, which play a role in a biologists journey. I would consider myself a biologist. I like the idea that a biologist is on a journey to find some question that has sparked an interest. While biologist are often concerned with some sort of organism, everyone can relate to this idea of curiosity. Although Janovy mentions most biologists are fascinated with nonhuman organisms at some point, I feel my fascination was with humans. Some of my earliest questions involved the workings of my own body. I have pursued these questions all the way through to the present day. I would argue that this makes me a biologist. My definition of a biologist has certainly changed following this reading. Again, I never thought about the youth of humans and the fascination of other organisms. After reading Janovy's piece, it makes sense as to why there's so much fascination with nonhuman organisms and more importantly why biology is important.

  • What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician? Why or why not?

After reading Stewart's piece, I would say a mathematician is a behind-the-scenes guy. He explains how mathematicians understand the ins and outs of practically all aspects of life. For example, the guy who developed DVDs relied on math. Understanding how the phone works requires math. Investment banking and Google use math. Being a mathematician provides an understanding for countless processes and developments in math. I would consider myself a mathematician. After reading all the examples of things that require math it's hard to say I am not. Math allows life to occur. Math is something used on a daily basis even when I'm not thinking about it. It's apparent that math is more than theorems and equations. One of the biggest math equations is the human body itself. Everything inside the body down to cells must be spaced properly to function. As a result, I am a mathematician.

  • What are the similarities and differences between the two readings?

The similarities between the readings can be seen in the idea that both math and biology are noble areas of study. Often times both majors are thought of as "useless." The authors reiterate the fact that these areas of study are fundamental to life. Both stories list aspects of daily life in which biology and math play a fundamental role. Furthermore, both readings push this idea that students should purse these studies if they are of interest to the student. It's never about chasing a salary, rather answering questions about life. The difference lies in the technical aspect of the reading. Although both discuss nature, the Stewart reading goes into more technical detail. Where Janovy briefly mentions his colleagues study of frogs, Stewart states how math places a role in the spacing of birds, signaling of phone calls, etc. Janovy is more philosophical and mentions the overlooked idea of "values" within biology. Stewart is more blunt and discusses careers that lend themselves to the study of math. Both express the idea that math and biology will always be important.

Elizabeth Polidan Week 1

Before Reading

When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind?

When I think of mathematics I think of sets of equations and functions that characterize everything.

Do you consider yourself a mathematician?

It is difficult to call myself a mathematician. Everyone around me seems to "get it" faster and better than I do. But I can call myself curious -- curious about how things work. And I use mathematics to help me understand how things work. So, if the shoe fits....

When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind?

When I think of biology I think of living systems. They could be systems of cells that form an organ, or systems of organs that form an individual. Or they could be systems of individuals that form an ecosystem.

Do you consider yourself a biologist?

I am a biologist in that I want to understand how these systems work.

After Reading

What did you find most interesting about the Stewart reading?

I loved the beauty he sees in nature and the math of nature.

What did you find most interesting about the Janovy reading?

I loved how he showed that biology has become one of the most interdisciplinary areas. I also really liked that he cautions not to lose the naturalist in oneself.

What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist?

Being a biologist is about life, and respecting life. And the desire to understand it. And I choose to feel that a biologist must engage many, many disciplines to study how life works.

I have had a major revelation in reading Janovy. I first went to college in the late 70s. I was on my own - no one in my family had gone before me. I was a biology major at USC then and it was all about memorizing facts. I never finished and could not imagine myself being a biologist based on how things were taught.

"If a student leaves biology class with information, but without the vision to see beyond the surface and into structure, process, complexity, and dependency, then we have not actually taught biology."

Perhaps I was just dense. But the program failed to show me what was beyond the surface. After Janovy, I definitely feel I am a biologist -- I love looking beyond the surface of what I was taught!

What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician?

To be a mathematician one must see math in everything, and use math to understand how things work, how well they are working, how internal and external events affect their operations.

In one of my last classes at USC a professor demonstrated on a computer the population model Stewart described using foxes and rabbits rather than fish. I was impressed with that. When I decided to return to college to finish my degree, I remembered that model. But I focused on the computer. THAT was the answer -- I wanted to be a computer scientist. So I took courses and learned about programming and data structures and about code analysis. When I got to logic gates, I hit the breaks. No! I did not want to study the computer itself. I did not want to write an operating system. I realized that the computer was a tool I wish to use. But, for what? When I became a data analyst at NASA I found the answer. I wanted to play with the data. I wanted to use mathematics to help me understand how things work. I am definitely a mathematician.

What are the similarities and differences between the two readings? Both authors are delighted with nature. It was happy reading both of them. They also addressed the misperceptions about their individual fields. They both talk about the passion of the people in their fields, and how curious both mathematicians and biologists are.

Stewart focused on the magic and delight of math; he could do this because mathematicians can usually find employment. Janovy's writing definitely had a more pragmatic side. He discussed politics and the realities of a career that produces "only" knowledge: it does not rank high in the priorities of the majority. Janovy was much more direct about the interdisciplinary nature of biology. Stewart skimmed the surface there in talking about math being everywhere. However, he did not discuss a mathematician working with a multitude of subject matter experts to address complex questions. It is too bad, because that is one of the things I really look forward to!

Elizabeth Polidan 02:39, 22 January 2013 (EST)