Life as a Biology Student

Honors Biology started out as a lull. The same old routine. Just another class. Nothing too new. Nothing too exciting. All the content was extremely interesting, of course, but nothing seemed to stand out to me more than anything in any other class. I understood all the concepts, however, I lacked the drive to delve deeper into the vast realm of biology.

I decided to give the subject another chance, though. AP Biology was my next calling. And although my grade in Honors Biology was almost not sufficient enough for me to be eligible to take this AP course, I tried and strove to bring up my grade high enough to allow me to take this magical, mystery course that only the best of the best were able to access. And I made it, obviously.

Summer went. And senior year came. I was more than thrilled, as everyone else, that our summer assignment had been postponed. I soon regretted that joy, however. I was amazed at how intrigued I was at the subject matter. And I really wished I had more time to do my own further research on Evolution, instead of being bombarded with work from all my other classes, which were all much less interesting.

Evolution was my first leap into a love of biology. The idea that everything came from a single common ancestor, the idea that everything is all related and interconnected in some way or another, was beyond fascinating to me. I loved every second of that unit. It was even amazingly interesting to see how people of the past, like Lamarck or Malthus, interpreted the world around them, and how their cultural time influenced them greatly on their quest for the answer of human origins. Their failure, which, in terms of generations, was not all too long ago. Darwin only published in 1859 — 155 years ago — and even still, his theory of evolution was not accepted, even considered in a scientific approach, for quite a while, natural selection not even being thought of as legitimate until the 1940s. Even today, there are sects of “Natural Theologians” — taking after the likes of Huxley — who believe that science only unravels the marvel of God, only trying to disprove him. This whole unit, and how quickly an accepted theory of evolution can change — Darwin’s Gradualism ultimately being boosted up by Punctuated Equilibrium evolution, — makes me wonder how many more times this ‘theory’ of evolution will be tweaked before humans know for sure where their ancestors are from. But perhaps that’s the whole point? That we’re not supposed to know. What’s the fun, where’s the magic, if there’s no mystery to dream?

After the fun and the wonderings that the Evolution unit had brought me, Biochemistry was right there to crush  it. Although all the subject matter was incredible, it did not make as much sense as it should have, as chemistry was never ever my strong suit. However, I will hold onto all the facts that I garnered from the Biochemistry unit, and hopefully will soon learn the mechanics of chemistry — how all the molecules and charges work together to create a functioning organism, — so I can truly marvel at how incredible life really is, and how a thing so very complex can be explained by the tiniest molecule — atom by atom.

Cell Biology took until the Animal unit to fully sink in, to fully realize what all the organelles were capable. I know that the lysosomes were used in toxic waste removal, but their involvement in the immune system fascinated me incredibly. Who would have ever thought that a small, glazed-over section in a Cell Biology unit, would do so much in order to make every day life possible? I definitely did not at first. Also not only the role, but especially the discovery after being so-long undiscovered, of the aquaporins, was astounding. Little tiny proteins have an amazingly huge role in the vitality of human life. Who would have thought? Most often are the small things in life overlooked, but most often are they the most important. This unit really helped me to put things into perspective, how, in one tiny way or another, we need the help of others, no matter how small they may be — like the Demodex mites that live on our eyelashes, aiding in the ability to open up your eyes.

Evolution was marvelous. It was like sociology — another one of my favorite subjects — but for animals. The Evolution unit combined the creatures I had loved studying intently as a younger child, with a subject that I could never seem to learn enough about. It was incredible. Two of my passions combined. And a planned career path in the future. Katelyn Dunne, the sociobiologist. I could dig it. My family was behind me 100% in this quest of mine, something that rarely happens when dealing with my future career. But we were all satisfied with this one, and we all had the Ecology unit to thank.

However, a career as a sociobiologist was short-lived. I knew day one, two units later.

The Plant unit had sparked an interest in me that has never been seen before. Everything, from the stem growth from the apical meristems, to the plants’ ability to move water up the xylem and down the phloem, to even the reproduction mechanisms of the bryophytes, was just fantasical. And more than magical. The fact that everything was so diverse, so special, made me more determined than ever to learn as much about these magical mystery plants as I could. When the Transpiration Lab came around, I did immense amounts of research, on everything from sugar-storing mechanisms of plants, to how some plants are covered in little silver hairs to decrease their overall internal temperature. I more than definitely see a botany career in my future. plants have become my passion. So unique, but still all the same inside — just like people.

This year of AP Biology has changed me immensely — and so much for the better. I am now more questioning of the world around me, always applying concepts learned in the classroom to everyday situations I encounter outside of the classroom — especially, and most definitely, whenever I visit a greenhouse conservatory. Life as a Biology student has opened my eyes to many things I never thought I’d see. And I am more than glad I had this opportunity to discover and explore this amazing world around me.

Thank you, Ms. Ortiz. This past year has been more than magical~

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