Molecular Biology -> ID... anyone :P

Hi, I decided to make my first post here after reading hundreds of other people experiences and doubts…

I currently finishing my degree in Molecular Biology (it is a 4 year degree) in Lund University, sweden, as an exchange student. Well, I always liked science related high school subjects… specialy biology, always had good grades in scientific subjects so, it was not hard to decide what college path I would choose. The problems began right in the first year. I choosed a general biology degree and didn’t felt like I like any of the new experiences I was having… Nothing I learned interested me much as to “glue” me to the degree. But I thought “well, in fact I always liked more of genetics and molecular biology so I better look for something more specific”, and so, next year, I changed to a Molecular Biology degree. And I stayed there.

I probably did what many college students not entirely happy with their choice do: I told myself that the first years might not be nothing interesting and so I crawled (without any amazing results, just average grades) the degree up to the 4th year.

Now that I’m on the verge to finaly get a diploma to get an independent life I facing two possible choices (if I continue with biology): get a phD (a 4 years decision that will define my whole career and will probably mean academic life for most of my life) and go and get a mediocre job as a graduate in Molecular Biology. Well, as you could understand from my description I’m not happy with neither choices.

So I finally asked myself what I really want to do. What I willingly like to do on my spare time.

What I always did with my spare-time involved designing (or… better, trying to). I really lack any formal education in this area because I always had a science background (last time I dealt with anything like design in school was in my Visual Education when I was 14) but I alwasy enjoyed it quite much. My younger brother always had a art’s bacground and I frequently followed what he did, specially now that he is to become an architect.

Now after all this boring confession I have a couple of more concrete questions: do any of you had a similar switch from science to design? Do you think that with my background in life sciences I can contribute to the design field?

Well, sorry for the huge post… and thanks if you read it through here.

seems like a shame to waste the time and expense doing Biology thus far.

If you like both, and are that energetic, why not do design for the bio field?

you can certainly make a contribution, particularly in sutainability.
William McDonough, who is primarily an architect but does product as well has a partner who is a biochemist: Michael Braungart. A deeper understanding of how materials and processes impact health is a growing need in ID, because of growing regulation and consumer demand.
You will need a minimum of 3 years of school - I recommend an undergraduate degree.
Should you find sustainability interestng, there are several ID programs that specialize, or find a university with strong environmental sciences and manufacturing engineering departments.


i was in a similar situation to you recently. i received my undergraduate degree in biology with a focus on cellular and molecular biology. i became turned on to biology early on as a teenager and loved all of my studies and internships through school. as graduation grew near, i debated graduate school or a full-time job and opted for the latter. i took a really intense laboratory research position at a major research university. it started out great. but, then slowly i began to realize that i didn’t want a career in teaching and i couldn’t picture myself slaving away in a lab for the rest of my life. i still had the passion, but realized i wanted to do something more interdisciplinary. after several years of research and life experiences, i came upon industrial design. i had actually received degrees in biology and studio art, but never did as much with the art degree. i came to industrial design with a deep interest in sustainability (as has been already mentioned as a nice segue) and designing medical/biological equipment. actually, a turning point for me was hearing someone in my family complain about having to use a new and modified medical device to self-inject her medication. the device basically serves to hold the needle and at the press of a button, inject it sub-cutaneously. she felt the new device to be less effective than the first. i began to think about how it could be redesigned based on her criticism. it was then that i realized that i could apply a lot of my background in the sciences to design work. simultaneously, i’ve had a growing interest in green design. realizing the applications of my bio degree to design, has re-ignited my passion for the sciences.
it sounds like you may be lacking some enthusiasm for molecular biology, but it does give you an edge for certain types of work. maybe if you think broadly, you’ll find ways to bring your passion for both together. even if you end up leaving the bio behind for the most part, your education is not a waste of time. it’s given you a foundation to work off of, even if it is not literal.
after being out of school for 6yrs, i am planning to return to school this fall to pursue an accelerated bachelor’s degree in industrial design. i’ve researched the program i’m entering a fair amount and am excited about the fact that there is some focus on eco-friendly design and ethical manufacturing.

good luck. please don’t feel alone in your transition. you might be feeling frustrated now as i did several years ago, but if you follow your passion, i’m sure you’ll end up satisfied.


perhaps you could elaborate on your school choices?

I know UC and CMU offer ID studios in collaboration with Bio-Med Engineering. Are you attending one of these?

Similarly, many schools are offering sustainablility classes/studios, I think the only full programs are in Europe. (Southern Illinois has the strongest focus in the US).

where would you suggest shriek begin looking?

Thanks for all of your reply!

Unfortunately my first try went unsuccessful. I talked to the contact person from ID master in Lund University about the possibility of enrolling in the ID Master programme and she said that for that I would have to pass the Swedish proficiency exam… There is no possibility for me to enroll in the degree without it. Even knowing that most courses (specially the advanced ones) are teached in english.

So, now, I either begin to learn swedish as fast as I can or I will have to look to other english or portuguese (I’m portuguese by the way) ID programme.

I was more inclined for scandinavian ID programmes because of their reputation and specialy because they are tution free… I don’t want to continue to be a complete burden to my parents after spending 4 years in a college degree…

Also, talking to this person today reminded me that most ID programmes are in fact Bachelor degrees, even thought I’ve been eyeing for a 5 year Master programme (without the possibility of a Bachelor diploma). Do any of you recomend this? I could always take the master afterwards…

In ID, the Master’s is only valuable if you intend on seeking tenure at a University. Everyone has to start at the bottom and prove themselves, advanced degree or not.

The bottom line is your portfolio.

I don’t have much to report as I quest continues… currently I decided to eye for a country where I actually can understand the language (english speaking countries are not a choice because of tuition) so in this category falls… France.

I’m looking at Strate College. They seems to be quite young but interesting. I read 1 opinion on them here in the forums, but do anybody else knows more about them? I can even know if it is a public or private school. They don’t describe it in the website although I suspect it is a public school because of this fact. I might get lucky with tuition because of my EU citizenship status…

As of the contents of their programme. They seem more directed to car design, as most portfolios I’ve seen includes cars… but some also have other products design… Cars interests me but with my background I probably can contribute more in the Biomedical field have some have already mentioned here.