Monday, September 12, 2005

Computational bioinformatics

Continuing on my previous musing about why "neuroscience" sounds so much sexier than "biology" even though both describe what I do, Spitshine offers alternative definitions of two words that at first glance might seem to be synonyms:
  • Bioinformatician - A scientist with a background in biology or biochemistry who stopped generating data himself
  • Computational biologist - A computer scientist or physicist who happens to use biological data
This certainly rings true; I once attempted to take class called "Computational Neuroscience" which turned out to be populated entirely by physics graduate students. Not being a physics graduate student myself, I found the math a bit beyond me. Imagine if the course had been called "Neurobioinformatics."

5 Comments:

Blogger driftwood said...

Once I went to a large wedding that I didn’t really want to go to since it was a long drive and I knew almost nobody there. So I made up various sexy sounding fields as answers to the usual and-what-do-you-do question. Some of these got people interested. But when they asked what it was, I always just said “lots of numbers”. Numbers must not be sexy since that pretty much cut off interest. Too bad I didn’t write some of these down. Oh well, there might be more overly large and overly long weddings to go to.

9/13/2005 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Jami said...

computers should be at least as sexy as brains, but they're just not. yeah, there are some smart-as-hell folks in the field, but they're surrounded by legions of fat guys drinking mountain dew. you have to take "computer" out of the description for sure to achieve job description sexiness.

biology includes people who count bugs and cuddle kitties for a living. not sexy. studying the brain? always sexy, and not so many unattractive behemoths in the field as yet.

well, off the to neuroscience institute i go!

9/13/2005 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

biology includes people who count bugs and cuddle kitties for a living. not sexy. studying the brain? always sexy

I think you may have hit the nail on the head with the first sentence! Counting bugs is awesome and very important but it seems pretty clear that systematics doesn't elicit the same fascination in the general public as the brain...

9/14/2005 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous mlussier said...

With all these new terms coming out, its definitely easy to get confused. That said there are a number of good resources on Computational Biology & Bioinformatics (i'm still not clear on the difference myself). A good place to talk to people in the field is Siphs. I signed up for this site recently and its sort of like a high-powered forum. Might be worth checking out.

9/21/2005 02:33:00 AM  
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