Molecular Biology or Bioengineering?

<p>The school is Caltech, and I don't know much about either of these degrees but I know each is pretty strong at the school. </p>

<p>Also, I don't know what I want to do after college. I'm thinking research, but I'd also like my research to be applicable to real life. Particularly, I'd really love to be able to visit other countries implementing my research, on the basis of course, that whatever research I end up doing has such value. I guess I don't want to work in a hospital or clinic; I want to, more or less, assist the diseased in less fortune countries by finding cheaper and more efficient methods of treatment. Which of the majors, or perhaps other major at a math/science/engineering school, would be good something like this?</p>

<p>Definitely engineering then. "Finding cheaper and more efficient methods of treatment" is squarely in the realm of bioengineering. Research in molecular biology will have little to do with finding practical applications for your research (not that there's anything wrong with that).</p>

<p>Bioengineering at Caltech seems to be rather broad in scope. There are three tracks, "Biomechanics," "device design," and "synthetic biology." Keep in mind that biomechanics will have the least to do with actual biology. It's more like using lots of math to understand non-linear viscoelastic materials and then mapping this mathematical framework onto a biological problem. You need to have a strong passion for math and physics to pursue this track: I imagine you could not like biology at all and still do well in biomechanics. </p>

<p>"Device design" will involve lots of electrical engineering. The focus will not be on the body, but on designing devices that interface with the body. Think MRI, pacemakers, EKGs, dialysis machines, etc. "Synthetic biology" will be the most chemistry/biology focused and will involve manipulating genes and proteins and cells to get them to do neat stuff. This is what I would recommend you do if you're very interested in cell biology.</p>