This Personal Statement was part of this student’s sucessful application to study Biology in Imperial College London, Natural Sciences in University College London and Durham University as well as Genetics in University of Edinburgh.
What happens if chloroplasts are injected into your bloodstream? How can a human breathe underwater? What happens if you jump into a hole drilled through the earth’s core? These are some of the intriguing questions asked by my younger brother. These are not questions which answers can be found in textbooks so I have to rely on logical reasoning to answer him. Of course, these questions are impractical in reality but I enjoy trying to solve the unsolvable. After a period of intense questioning, I myself developed this peculiar habit of asking why and what. I consider this to be my greatest strength because it allows me to look at science from a different perspective. History shows us that the biggest discoveries are not those with the biggest answers but those with the biggest questions.
Most people will define science by its three main subjects; biology, chemistry and physics. However, my view of science is that there are no rigid boundaries separating the subjects. Learning only one of the subjects is inadequate because those subjects are related in a thousand and one ways. For instance, the chemical composition of purines and pyrimidines is what allows the precise replication of DNA. Even mathematics can be found reappearing in nature as the Golden Ratio. Throughout my studies, it has always been a thrill to be able to apply concepts I learnt from one subject in another. Not only does this enable me to understand the subjects better, it gives me an immense satisfaction of being able to connect them; like same-coloured tiles of a Rubik’s cube coming together.
My particular interest in biology has leaded me to do a hospital attachment. I witnessed a gastroscopy and a biopsy being done to test for H. pylori. One branch of biology which intrigues me more than the others is genetics. Genetics is more than just the study of genes; it explains how one’s phenotype arises from the complex relationship of its genotype with its environment. The idea of nurture vs. nature and which has the upper hand in determining an organism’s characteristics appeals to me. Darwinism and Mendelism complement each other so beautifully and the unification of both theories is something I want to learn to greater detail. Genetics immediately caught my attention when my high-school teacher taught us about DNA replication and transcription. The way free nucleotides which have no sense of order at first, could suddenly line up next to the exposed DNA strands in a precise arrangement is simply elegant; order from chaos. When I read The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean, I stumbled upon transposons. Further research left me in awe because these “jumping genes” further prove that something as inanimate as DNA could do as much as something living, if not more. The way transposons work raises many questions, so I am eager to learn more about it at a higher level. I even requested for an interview with a local geneticist to find out more but I am still waiting for a reply.
During my schooling years, I consistently top my batch in exams and was awarded with numerous top-in-subject awards especially in maths and science subjects. I was also named the Top 50 Best Scorer in Malaysia for the Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM). I took part in many maths and science competitions to try a different approach in learning these subjects. As a result, I found out that I enjoy the challenges set by the competitions and gained a lot from them. An example of my achievements is I was awarded a High Distinction in the National Malaysian Chemistry Quiz. I also emerged second for the KDU’s Maths and Science Competition. Badminton and squash is my forte and I took part in tournaments. Debating was also a passion of mine in secondary school and it had taught me to think critically and analytically, which are important assets in the science field. I gained leadership experience by being the Assistant Head Prefect and I was also the Vice Captain for my school’s Blue House.
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