BIOL398-05/S17:Class Journal Week 1

From OpenWetWare

Lauren M. Kelly: Reflection Questions

Lauren M. Kelly

Before

Stewart

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

When I hear the term mathematics, I think of numbers, symbols, and complicated formulas. While I remember the times I struggled in geometry, I also remember enjoying calculus. Mathematics, in my mind, is associated with being difficult and time consuming.

  1. Do you consider yourself a mathematician? why or why not?

I do not consider myself a mathematician. I rarely use math in my daily life (besides this class), and I feel that I simply do not know enough about math to consider myself to be at the level of mastery that true mathematicians are at.

Janovy

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

When I hear the term biology, I think of the plants, animals, and everything in between that live on earth. It is the study of life and an incredibly diverse subject with many different subdivisions.

  1. Do you consider yourself a biologist? why or why not?

In some ways I consider myself a biologist, but I know I still have a long way to go until I can call myself a true biologist. I hope to one day be working as a research scientist. Through my experiences gathering data and writing papers in lab I think that I am a growing biologist. I also have the curiosity and love of investigation that is inherent in most biologists.

After

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

I greatly enjoyed that the Stewart reading talking about mathematics in terms of patterns that underly a wide variety of things, as opposed to discussing it in terms of the complicated equations I saw in my calculus classes. I was also surprised to find that mathematics is behind things that, on the surface level, appear to be completely unrelated to math.

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

I found Janovy's discussion of how society views certain careers in biology differently than others very interesting. It is difficult for people to see the value in researching frogs in a far away country, but those same people will immediately appreciate and value work in medicine because it has a direct impact on the human race. Not everyone understands that studying small, seemingly random animals is important because it increases our understanding of the world in which we live.

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

To be a biologist means that you have respect for the things that represent life itself and a genuine interest in investigating nature. One does not necessarily have to be a professional to be considered a biologist. One's own backyard can be the perfect venue to observe life. I consider myself a biologist, partly because I am studying to be one, and partly because I have been observing the nature around me for almost my entire life. Much of my free time during my childhood was spent in my backyard looking for creatures in the grass and the plants.

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

To be a mathematician not only means to be able to execute the complicated procedures found in some of the most advanced math courses, but it also means to be able to recognize the mathematical patterns that arise in everyday life. These patterns drive the behavior of many organisms. At this moment, I do not consider myself a mathematician because I do not tend to recognize these patterns easily.

  1. What are the similarities and differences between the two readings?

Both readings discuss how biology and mathematics deepen our understanding of the world around us. They also both express that biology and mathematics are very broad and can be applied to a wide variety of things.

Lauren M. Kelly 00:53, 19 January 2017 (EST)

Cameron M. Rehmani Seraji: Reflection Questions

Cameron M. Rehmani Seraji

Before

Stewart

  1. When I hear the term mathematics, I think of numbers, variables, formulas, and problem solving. I thoroughly enjoyed taking Calculus in high and school and as a freshman in college. I think mathematics is a subject that teaches people how to problem solve and deal with problems better.
  2. I do not consider myself a mathematician. I have not done that much math problem solving since the last time I took Calculus and I do not use that much math, other than addition and subtraction, in my regular life.

Janovy

  1. When I hear the term biology, i think of the study of life and living organisms and specifically focuses on their structures, functions, growth, and interactions.
  2. I would consider myself a biologist because I am a biology major and I have spent many hours in lecture and in lab studying the many different components that make up and affect life.

After

  1. The thing I found most interesting from the Stewart reading is mathematics is the underlying principle that plays a role in almost all areas of life. People use math everyday to determine how much time they have to do something, how much money they are going to get paid at work, and how much a certain thing will cost them.
  2. The thing I found most provocative from the Janovy reading is the idea that we have learned so much about biology over the last 100 years, but there are still so many things that we do not know about and it will be exciting to see what we discover over the next 100 years.
  3. To be a biologist means to not be restricted to making observations and interpretations in a classroom, but should focus on using the real world to learn. I think I am a biologist because everyday I make observations and interpretations about the world around me.
  4. A mathematician can be a scientists, engineer, computer programmer, accountant, etc. To be a mathematician you must have great skills at mathematics. I think I am a mathematician because I use math everyday analyzing statistics from experiments, measuring out volumes in organic chemistry lab, deciding how much time I have to get to class, and many other things.
  5. One similarity between the Stewart reading and the Janovy reading is they both show how their field is applicable to most people's everyday lives. Biology and mathematics are all around us and can be factors in our decision making. One difference between the two readings is the Stewart reading focuses on mathematics and how it is applicable to our lives while the Janovy reading focuses on biology and how it is applicable to our lives.

Acknowledgements

This individual journal entry was completed by me and not copied from another source.

Conor Keith: Reflection Questions

Conor Keith

Before

Stewart

  1. When I hear the term mathematics, I immediately think of images of graphs of functions. I have always embraced the visual side of mathematics and find topics easier to grasp when I can think about them visually.
  2. I do consider myself to be a mathematician, as mathematics is a language I use daily. The research I perform and the classes I take are all based in math. Math is "the language of economics," and it is nearly impossible to read through a Economics Journal without a solid mathematical foundation.

Janovy

  1. When I hear the term biology, I think of cells, DNA, RNA, plants, animals, and life in general. I consider biology to be the study of all living things.
  2. I don't consider myself to be a biologist. My knowledge of biology is limited to the introductory general biology classes I took at LMU. I have not performed any biology research outside of lab, so I consider myself a biology neophyte.

After

  1. I found Stewart’s assertion that, “Hiding the math away makes us feel comfortable, but it devalues mathematics” intriguing. I have always thought mathematics is misunderstood as a discipline. Most people don’t realize mathematics is the foundation of other important disciplines like physics, economics, and engineering. When I tell someone that I study mathematics, I often get asked if I want to be a teacher, as If that is the only options mathematicians have. When I tell people I study both mathematics and economics, they assume that the two disciplines are completely unrelated. Putting red labels on everything that read “Math inside” may not be such a bad idea.
  2. I found Janovy’s story about selling tickets at a J.V. high school volleyball game to be the most provocative part of the reading. The fact that people have trouble viewing researchers as productive members of society is disappointing. I understand that the average person may have a tough time understanding the significance of studying Neotropical frogs, but I attribute this to a fundamental lack of scientific literacy. If the general population had a better understanding of biology, they might realize the importance of scientific research. I have always had an interest in research, and there have been numerous times where I had to be an apologist for people who perform economics research. Janovy goes on to defend her colleague and the importance of his work, and she does so in a very convincing way.
  3. According to Janovy’s “broad and tolerant view” of the field of biology, a biologist is someone who makes some original observations of nature and turns them into a synthesis of understanding. By her definition I would be a biologist. I think I could be considered a biologist in the mildest sense. I am fascinated by the natural world and I believe I do make some original observations. My work in economics can and mathematics can at times overlap with the field of biology.
  4. There is not a universal definition for what a mathematician is. In my opinion, a mathematician is any person who has knowledge of mathematics and uses this knowledge often in their life. Under this loses definition, I would consider myself a mathematician. I use mathematics constantly, both inside and outside of class. Mathematics is the foundation of the research I do, and I see math on display often in the world around me. When I read news articles about things like space and technology, the first thing that comes to mind is the mathematics behind them.
  5. Both authors base their writings heavily on personal experience, and share numerous anecdotes from their daily lives to prove their points. Both authors offer insight into things about their fields that may not be apparent to the average person. The key difference between the two is that Janovy appears to be more critical of her field, while Stewart focuses on the positive aspects of studying mathematics.

Conor Keith 22:11, 18 January 2017 (EST)

Maragret J. ONeil Reflection Questions

Margaret J. ONeil

Before

Stewart

  1. When I hear the term mathematics it elicits thoughts and images of proofs, calculus, differential equations and figures. Hearing mathematics also evokes a sense of frustration and satisfaction from long extremely challenging problems and the satisfaction that comes from problem-solving.
  2. I would not consider myself a mathematician. While I use mathematics frequently and appreciate the subject, I view it more as a tool that can and should be applied to a variety of disciplines, and thus in using mathematics in only an applied way to investigate other subjects, I would not classify myself as a mathematician.

Janovy

  1. When I hear the term biology I think of excitement, of the uncertainty of investigation and the thrill that comes with successful experiment and the frustration that comes from experiments that fail for seemingly no reason. Thinking of biology also makes me think of our place in the world, how fascinating it is that we as humans can analyze ourselves and other life forms to better understand how life itself works.
  2. I do consider myself to be a biologist due to my range of experiences in the different subfields of biology, from fisheries sciences, to oncology, to environmental education and bioinformatics. Having a wide variety of real-world lab experiences and information from courses and labs makes me feel confident in the vast realm of biology and science in general, which makes me feel as though I can identify as a biologist.

After

  1. I really appreciated how the Stewart readings framed mathematics as being the driving force between so many things that are taken for granted today, from the internet to the breeding process behind farming. I love Stewart's quote in chapter 1 when he says "What math does for me is this: It makes me aware of the world I inhabit in an entirely new way, It opens my eyes to nature's laws and patterns, It offers an entirely new experience of beauty." The notion of math, a topic often viewed as horrible and foreign by many, being a source of understanding and appreciating beauty is enticing, especially given that Stewart is correct in saying many don't understand or appreciate the role math plays in so many facets of modern daily life. Chapter 5 is similarly interesting in expanding on this notion of beauty and applying it to patterns to be seen in nature, whether organic (birds perched on a wire evenly spaced) or synthetic (streets cutting across the bayou). I like this notion of math being able to be observed through pattern recognition, as I've always thought of the world around me in terms of patterns (blocks of sidewalk, people standing in crowds wearing similar colors, repetitive observed behaviors. etc.), and had never thought of that line of thinking as being related to math for some reason. Now that I realize it is, I see the opportunity to also experience "an entirely new experience of beauty."
  2. I found Janovy's analysis on the value placed on different realms of biology to be particularly interesting. It reminds me of similar findings in philosophy and how dominant mother culture can be in our society, and mother culture always holds humans in the highest regard, yielding in the biological sense the study of other organisms to be less useful than research on humans or on subjects that are deemed to be beneficial to humans. His analysis of the switch from going from being comfortable saying "I do such and such" to saying "I am such and such" is also very interesting in looking at the conception of how people identify themselves, especially in the context of doing science/considering oneself to be a biologist. The emphasis on the importance of using science and biology to expand our notion of the surrounding world rather than just focusing on the benefits said knowledge might bring to the human animal is also very intriguing, and one that causes a paradigm shift for me as without thinking I often place my own sense of value in what research can do for people rather than what it can do and achieve for the world at large.
  3. To be a biologist means to be someone who observes the living, complex world around them and uses those observations to interpret and understand what is happening in the world around them. Through this definition I am a biologist, as from a young age, going off of the importance of childhood experiences, I loved playing outside, and asking questions about how the world worked. My parents fostered this interest by taking me to the zoo, answering whatever questions I had about how car doors worked, etc. I always thought it was interesting that there was never a defining moment when I decided I would study biology, as it was inherent because of those activities in my youth of observing the world that ignited a passion for it, and has propelled me into striving to make making observations about the world a fulfilling career for myself.
  4. To be a mathematician means to be someone who understands how mathematics can be used and observed in a variety of applications, and someone who recognizes those connections and applications when they arise. In this sense, I am a mathematician because I frequently apply mathematics to biological problems and observe mathematical patterns in everyday natural and synthetic phenomena.
  5. These two readings were very similar in the sense that they both sought to highlight the "hidden world" of the two subjects. Both readings shined a light on how widespread mathematics and biology actually are without society stopping to appreciate and realize the widespread and interdisciplinary nature of the two fields. Where the two readings differ is Janovy is more critical of the importance placed on aspects of biology and society's view on those who study biology, while Stewart's writings are more celebratory of the hidden nature of the field, and seems to relish the fact that sometimes the work of mathematicians goes unappreciated because appreciated or not, everyone relies heavily on math.

Acknowlegements

I certify that this individual journal entry was completed by me and not copied from another source. Margaret J. Oneil 02:32, 19 January 2017 (EST)

Nika Vafadari Reflection Questions

Nika Vafadari

Before

Stewart

  1. When I hear the term mathematics, I immediately think of Algebra, since it has always been my favorite area of math in school. While I enjoyed Calculus as well, I’ve always loved the aspects that involve basic algebraic skills, such as solving systems of equations.
  2. While I’ve always enjoyed math growing up and even found myself preferring the Calculus classes I took my freshman year over the Chemistry ones I was enrolled in, I do not consider myself a mathematician. In my opinion, a mathematician is a person who devotes their time to studying and mastering mathematics. Therefore, as a biology major I do not see myself as one.

Janovy

  1. When I hear the term biology, I often find myself initially thinking of the plants and animals portrayed on the front of the biology textbooks introduced to us our first year as biology majors. While I’ve come to understand and learn the vast amount of material and areas of study within biology, I still find myself picturing the plants we studied freshman year in Biology I Lab whenever I hear the term biology.
  2. As a biology major, I consider myself to be at a vital stage in working towards one day becoming a biologist. As of now my studies focus on expanding my knowledge of the subject matter and developing the skills needed to pursue this path, but I still have plenty to learn.

After

  1. One point that Stewart brought up throughout both chapters that I found interesting is the fact that people often fail to recognize the presence of math in everyday life. Although most people, including myself, use a navigation system on a daily basis, I often find myself neglecting the fact that math is being used to get me from one destination to another, since the computer is executing the math for me. In addition, as Stewart points out, most people often forget the wide variety of jobs and careers that depend on math, such as owning a brewery or electronic company.
  2. One statement that Janovy includes that I found most interesting is the statement that scientific beliefs are always open to modification. While this point is expressed throughout our years as biology majors, I often forget the importance of modification to science as a means of improving knowledge in specific areas and grasping an accurate understanding of how something works. It is for this reason, that scientists share their publications and open them up for peer review and modification in the hopes of improving the understanding and knowledge of the scientific community.
  3. To be a biologist, one does not have to fully complete their professional degree in the subject before they are considered to be one, but instead have the skills necessary to make observations and interpret what is in front of you. Therefore, in this sense I consider myself to be a biologist, since I’ve been acquiring these skills throughout my time as a biology major.
  4. To be a mathematician means to have the ability to recognize and appreciate the math found in world around us. It means understanding that math has a wide range of uses and can be applied to an extensive variety of things, even the study of biology. In this sense I do consider myself a mathematician, since I do utilize many skills rooted in mathematics to execute various tasks as a biology student, especially when executing experimental designs.
  5. Both authors stress the everyday occurrences that are the result of and can be attributed to their field of study. In addition both discuss a variety of applications of their fields. In addition, both

bring up the importance of the integration of knowledge, for example across two fields of study, to lead to newer technologies and a better understanding of a specific topic, such as the Human Genome, which Stewart bring up. Yet, while Stewart focuses on discussing the variety of things that have arisen from mathematics, shining a light on its importance in nature and flexibility when it comes to choosing a career path, Janovy provides an inquisitive tone stressing the importance of constantly examining ones field.

Acknowlegements

I certify that this individual journal entry was completed by me and not copied from another source.