‘Biochem,’ ‘Orgo’ classes vex College of Science, Engineering students

Numerous prospective students seek University of Detroit Mercy as their higher education school of choice specifically because of the science programs that are offered here.  

Within the College of Engineering and Science are the studies of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, which all have direct paths to dental and medical schools, among others. 

Many students in the sciences struggle to stay afloat in higher-level classes.

“One of the hardest classes is cellular and molecular biology,” said senior biology major McKenna Brohl.  “I start studying two weeks in advance for exams and put in about two hours per day.”

In February, Brohl plans to apply for the accelerated nursing program at Detroit Mercy.  

Rodney Maas, also a senior biology major, works hard to manage his time wisely with many assignments, quizzes and exams weekly.

“Being in my final year, I don’t think I have any biology classes that I would consider easy,” Maas said.  “If you would have asked me two years ago how I was going to study for an exam, I would have said, ‘I’m going to stay up all night and cram,’ but there’s just no way to do that anymore with the amount of material that we have to study.”

Jacob Kagey, associate professor of biology, does his best to use analogies to get important points across to students.

“I spend a great deal of time trying to come up with analogies to help introduce students to difficult concepts,” Kagey said.  “The more ridiculous and silly the analogy, the better. I have had students come back years later and explain the fundamentals of the lactose operon by talking about ground beef and hamburgers.”

Aside from his entertaining analogies, Kagey hopes that after his course(s), students will think like scientists and have better study skills.

Another class that many science students struggle in is organic chemistry.

Matt Mio, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, understands that his students sometimes have a hard time.

“Most students describe organic chemistry as being difficult because it’s their first science course where memorization is not helpful and there is really little math,” said Mio.  “The course has been compared to learning a new language because it is graphical in nature.”

Senior biology major Taj Kooner agreed that memorization is unhelpful in organic chemistry.

“I personally didn’t like orgo,” she said.  “But with study groups and attending office hours, I was able to do well in the class.”

Junior chemistry major Mario Suarez felt that organic chemistry wasn’t so bad.

“Orgo is not bad at all if you work hard,” he said.  “When you get to classes like chemical thermodynamics and application, orgo seems like nothing.”

Along with hosting study groups, Mio also allows his students to collaborate on homework and exams, even the final, he said.

Paige Dykema, a 2016 graduate, accepted a position at the KARMANOS Cancer Institute after graduation, and feels that her degree in biology helped her immensely.

“My degree in biology really gave me a good foundation for the current cancer treatments available to patients and modern research that is being done right here in Detroit,” Dykema said.  “I also believe the service learning values instilled in me will help me perform in every step of my career because I remain focused on serving the world around me.”