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Biochemistry Personal Statement

The human body consists of just three main elements: oxygen, carbon and hydrogen: a group of atoms which can form an infinite number of substances, from water to plastics. When these billions of separate atoms combine in precise arrangements, they can form beautifully specialised molecules which create a living, sentient organism. The sheer complexity of my own chemical make-up fascinates me, particularly considering how an entire organism can be reduced to its constituent elements and their interactions, whilst the slightest change to a single molecule can spell disaster. Studying the transcription of DNA into proteins last year intrigued me; the concept that an entire organism can be broken down into a code written in four chemical bases compelled me to read 'Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters'. It was fascinating to learn the devastating effect of CAG repeats on chromosome 4, causing the irreversible Huntington's chorea; this also presented the question of the extent to which our biochemical makeup impacts upon our daily lives, and how much our characteristics and actions can be attributed to our genetics, and how much to external influences. I soon discovered that the more I learned about this topic, the greater my curiosity: I also wanted to understand another piece of the genetic code, mitochondrial DNA. Brian Sykes' 'The Seven Daughters of Eve' proved an illuminating read, detailing the extent of our ancestry that is discernable from a short segment of this genetic loop. I have followed this with works by other authors, such as Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones, and I am a regular reader of New Scientist. My views of life itself, and the criteria by which it can be defined, were challenged when I attended Lewis Dartnell's lecture and planetarium show on astrobiology; it was fascinating to consider how life could be defined, and how this might affect our recognition of extra terrestrial life. It was also thrilling to consider where, within our own solar system, alien life might be found, given the conditions which some terrestrial extremophiles are known to survive. In addition to this, I attended the Royal Society's Summer Science Festival and Cafe Scientifique discussion session, and other lectures held by the Royal Society and the Natural History Museum. I was selected to represent my school at the 2010 Student Summit on biodiversity at the Natural History Museum. Hearing leading scientists discuss some of the current problems facing the world, such as global warming, the value of biodiversity and the impact of genetic modification of food crops was an enlightening experience. The debates which concluded each day's talks were also thoroughly enjoyable: I am a long-standing member of my school's debating team, which has given me the opportunity to participate in both the English Speaking Union's Mace competition and the Student Parliament at the House of Commons. Additionally, I took part in the UK Mathematics Trust Senior Team Challenge. This encouraged lateral thinking and an inventive attitude to problem solving; this year I am participating in the National Cipher Challenge, which will develop these skills further. Furthermore, undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards has tested my endurance and team work. As part of these awards, I have volunteered with Oxfam and been an active participant in my school's Amnesty International society. This interest in global issues in part led to my appointment as Senior Prefect responsible for charities in school, in which capacity I have assisted with running a talent show fundraising for the Disasters Emergency Committee, and with many other events such as the induction week for new students. I have only just begun to uncover the secrets of biochemistry, yet already it fascinates me. My unrelenting curiosity compels me to understand the full complexity of the subject; my determination and dedication will enable me to do so.


Universities Applied to:

  • University of Cambridge (BCF0 Natural Sciences) - Offer (A*AA) Firm
  • The University of Sheffield (C709 Biochemistry) - Offer (AAB) Insurance
  • The University of York (C700 Biochemistry) - Offer (ABB)
  • University of Surrey (C700 Biochemistry) - Offer (AAB)
  • The University of Manchester (C700 Biochemistry) - Offer (AAA)

Grades Achieved:

  • Biology (A2) - A*
  • Chemistry (A2) - A*
  • Mathematics (A2) - A*
  • Critical Thinking (AS) - A

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