Students in LAUNCH programs are encouraged to stretch themselves and appreciate a broader context for the knowledge of their chosen disciplines. For students in the College of Liberal Arts or Mays Business School, this might mean digging into the intersection of their interests with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). For students in STEM fields, this might mean seeking to understand the social, artistic, and philosophical impacts of the work they are doing.In the post below, sophomore chemical engineering and microbiology double-major, Engineering Honors student and Undergraduate Research Ambassador Morgan Chapman ’20 discusses how he makes these kinds of connections through literature that digs into scientific themes.
– by Morgan Chapman
My favorite field of science is genetics. I love the intricate patterns, the delicate balance of products, the ballet of enzymes, proteins, and chemicals flowing and interlocking like the gears of a watch. If I am to be completely honest, I am hopelessly in love with all science, even when I hate learning about SN2 reactions or selective factors. I adore science because it creates a puzzle that is the universe with each piece being a puzzle in itself, each piece having a story.
These stories are no ordinary stories, they are the greatest of all time, deciphering the human genome, discovering radiation, creating ammonia. These stories are about us and what we have accomplished as a human race across the centuries. These tales of insight and creativity put me in the shoes of the original trailblazers: Marie Curie, Gregor Mendel, Pierre Pastuer, Ernst Haber. I get to think what they thought and make discoveries by their sides. Although entertaining and insightful, these stories gave me more than just an appreciation and a history of the fields, I gained the mentality needed to succeed in the fields.
The Violinist’s Thumb opened the doors for me to the world of evolution and genetics, I Contain Multitudes to microbiology, and The Disappearing Spoon to my love-hate relationship with chemistry.
The more I read, the more I connect with science, finding tidbits and enjoying the theories. What is more interesting is that I am able to connect with the knowledge I learn in these books to excel in my classes, helping me study indirectly, guiding me to think differently and predict answers before I am taught them in class.
These stories have provided me a new education, working in synergy with the one I get with my professors, in the end granting me with a fundamental understanding and enjoyment of the subjects I spend so much time studying. Although they may not be as enticing as a new episode of The Office these books do have something: they offer the greatest murders ever witnessed, the most daring rescues ever performed, even a few love stories sprinkled in the mix—in some cases, even a few study tips. For those seeking the truth, or those seeking a B on this next exam, I dare you to look no farther than scientific literature.
Chapman also provided a list of recommended reading for those who want to explore this genre further:
- The Violinist’s Thumb – Sam Kean
- The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons – Sam Kean
- The Disappearing Spoon – Sam Kean
- Caesar’s Last Breath – Sam Kean
- Mutter’s Marvels – Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
- Cold – Bill Streever
- Flu – Gina Kolata
- I Contain Multitudes – Ed Yong
- The Next Pandemic – Ali S. Khan
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil Degrasse Tyson
- Pandora’s Lab – Paul A. Offit
- The Ends of the World – Peter Brannen
- Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science – Atul Gawande
- The Gene – Siddhartha Mukhuerjee
- The Drug Hunters – Donald R. Kirsch
- Improbable Destinies – Jonathan B. Losos
- The Man Who Touched His Own Heart – Robert Dunn
- Gut – Guilia Enders
- Venemous – Christie Wilcox
- The Sting of the Wild – Justin O. Schmidt
- The Psychobiotic Revolution – Scott C. Anderson
- Spillover – David Quammen
- The Woman with the Worm in Her Head – Pamela Nagami
- Killer Germs – Barry E. Zimmerman
- Guns, Germs, and Steel – Jared Diamond
- Why Nations Fail – Daron Acemoglu
- A Voyage Long and Strange – Tony Horwitz
Want to share how you are making your learning broader, deeper, or more complex? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your insights.