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Jake R.
Lead Biology Tutor at University of Washington CLUE
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Biochemistry
TutorMe
Question:

Why are there so many enzymes!?

Jake R.
Answer:

Couldn’t agree more - evolution really didn’t pull any punches when it comes to human cellular mechanics. A complete answer is that we’re really, really complicated, and it turns out it's super useful when our body can tightly regulate each individual component. It allows our bodies to continually react to a ton of different changing outside conditions (a process we call homeostasis). Take blood glucose concentrations, for example. Fundamentally, we can reduce this process to “blood glucose low? Release glucagon to raise it!” In reality, there are dozens of enzymes and other proteins involved in propagating the original “low blood sugar” signal into a homeostatic response all over the body! By adding little stops along the way, we can modulate exactly how our body is responding, and adjust as needed.

Basic Chemistry
TutorMe
Question:

Orbital hybridization seems really confusing - do I really need to learn this stuff?

Jake R.
Answer:

First of all, orbital hybridization sounds awesome - like a menacing sci-fi weapon. Luckily for us, it's not nearly as menacing as it may sound! That said, if you want to continue on into chemistry (or even do well in your class..) you'll definitely want a fundamental understanding of hybridization. Hybridization essentially dictates the position of electrons around an atom, and as you might know, electrons are CRUCIAL for bond formation - and without bonds, we don't get to do much at all!

Biology
TutorMe
Question:

Why are phylogenies so awful, and how can I avoid ever seeing them again?

Jake R.
Answer:

I was wounded by a phylogeny once, early in my Biology career. I wanted to learn about brains and bones and bunnies and bears - I didn't want to be staring down the barrel of a big, twisted mess. But that's where I was, and it sucked. And it sucked because I didn't know what I was doing, and I didn't want to have to deal with this gross evolutionary chart. You can fix one of those problems with practice, and for me, it turned out I could fix the other one too. I can't promise to make you love phylogenies, but I can definitely help you understand them. And maybe after we look at some of the awesome (yes, awesome) applications of phylogenies, you won't dread the next one so much. A sure fire trick to avoid seem them EVER again, though? Become a chemist!

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