I am enrolled in a undergrad program of natural sciences. Basically I can major in Physics, Chemistry, Math, Biology, Earth Science, Materials.

I was very interested in mathematics before I joined the program and wanted to have a mathematics major. Later, I understood, the rigor that math courses required, I am not built that way.

I have taken courses in applied math related fields. Ex: Mathematical Finance, Optimisation, Machine Learning, Linear Algebra etc and I absolutely love them. On the other hand I hate (yes! I hate!) courses like real/complex analysis, algebra, Calc-II, etc ( I found Calc-I pretty interesting!)

When I say I “hate” those courses, I mean I either don’t understand those abstract things or I just dont feel like studying those topics and end up getting grades like B/C. Whereas the courses I mentioned as “I love” I almost never get below A/A+.

My undergrad math major at my university doesn’t have any such applied courses in math. Most of my courses are very very abstract.

Now I have completed my minor requirements of math. I can continue this to get a major or can get a major in a completely different field.

Now I have a feeling I might fail in more advanced math courses which are part of the major curriculum. On the other hand I don’t want to do Physics, Biology, Chemistry all over again from start!

From what I have understood I like stuffs like math modelling, optimisation, etc. Now my question is if I take a major in earth and environmental science with a minor in mathematics. What is the scope / research fields where I can work on applied math related field in earth science (with the combination available to me that seems to be the best alternative to me now)

PS: I want to do a PhD and continue with higher studies in a applied math related field.

  • 1
    Unfortunately, looks like a shopping question. As I happen to have some experience in the field though - most of modern Earth sciences heavily use math modelling (seismology, meteorology, you name it). Feel free to DM for some clarification.
    – Lodinn
    Oct 1, 2021 at 15:25
  • Other universities might have more interesting course offerings if you are willing to switch
    – Felix B.
    Oct 1, 2021 at 15:37
  • @FelixB. I would. But I won’t think switching universities in the third year of a 4 year undergrad program is a good idea. Won’t that lead to a waste of my first 2 years?
    – dev
    Oct 1, 2021 at 15:41
  • @user925032 hard to say - if you can get credit for the courses you did so far this should be no problem. You could probably ask the university that interests you before switching. But in the end this requires sitting down with an excel sheet and counting credits
    – Felix B.
    Oct 1, 2021 at 15:45
  • shopping question but i also have some relevant experience. My institution has an earth sciences specialisation available in the Master of Data Science specifically because subject matter knowledge combined with data science is really useful
    – JenB
    Oct 1, 2021 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


I think there is hope for you. For two reasons.

First, the minor reason. Don't be terribly concerned that some parts of math are harder for you to gain insight than others. That is pretty natural. I had great insight into analysis and topology, but very little in abstract algebra, despite the structurally similar axiomatic basis. But insight only comes from hard work and if you need the insight then you gotta' do the work.

The primary reason though is that some (maybe a lot) of earth science research can benefit from both mathematical and computer modeling. Long (long time) ago, I worked with a geologist on a project related to wave action at the shore. We didn't make a lot of progress at the time, but it gave me an appreciation for how math can be applied in the real world.

But, I hate to tell you that analysis (calculus and beyond) is probably an important modeling tool in a lot of earth science. Not all, but quite a lot - especially dynamic systems.

  • What would you recommend to someone who finds courses like analysis and algebraic structures very difficult but courses like optimisation very interesting? I agree I should have done engineering instead but now being “stuck” at a natural science degree what would be better— going on with the math major or having it as a minor and doing an earth science major?
    – dev
    Oct 1, 2021 at 15:39
  • @user925032 I understand - and can relate to - not liking things like series convergence and other "math-y abstract things" a lot, but PDEs, spectral analysis, linear algebra, integration pretty much are applied math in natural/earth sciences. It is possible they teach it in bit overly-abstract way for you. Consider taking some computational math to make sense of it: maybe if you see what say Cauchy problem is in the real world, it'd help to understand what do different parts of its math formulation mean.
    – Lodinn
    Oct 1, 2021 at 15:44

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