Why Consider Biophysics? BRIDGING THE PHYSICAL What is biophysics? And why SCIENCES AND is it a driving force behind Are you interested in developing cures for disease, finding scientific solutions to fight modern biological research? global hunger, experimenting with and designing cutting-edge technologies, or Biophysics is the field that applies the solving countless scientific mysteries? Then theories and methods of to biophysics may be the right field for you. understand how biological systems work. In order to solve these and other problems, biophysicists work within and across a variety What do the laws of physics, such as those of disciplines including: that define forces or , have to do with biology? These laws and concepts are essential to unraveling complex biological questions such as how plants extract energy from sunlight and how changes in a ’s shape affect its . Biophysics has been critical for building many tools that are used every day in science NEUROBIOLOGY and such as DNA sequencers and imaging technology, including X-ray machines and MRI scanners. In fact, a specialized X-ray COMPUTATIONAL technique developed by biophysicists was used BIOLOGY to discover the structure of DNA in 1953.

Becoming a LEARN MORE ABOUT THE Biophysics may be the field that gives Biophysicist Biophysics has contributed to you the tools and expertise to answer breakthroughs in , including the research questions that you find most the development of electron and fascinating. www.biophysics.org and fluorescent imaging techniques— Consider biophysics as the next step techniques that have revealed the in your scientific journey. structures inside of cells and are critical to present-day research. What Biophysicists Do How to Become a Biophysicist?

MOLECULAR MOTORS AND IMAGING NEUROBIOLOGY PRECISION MEDICINE If biophysics sounds like a good fit for you, Biophysicists study how microscopic machines Biophysicists research neurobiology at a molecular This era of “big data” has ushered in a new way of below are some ways you can prepare to enter facilitate movement of cargo (like , level, using biophysical approaches to understand how thinking about medical treatments. Researchers now the field. neurotransmitters, or hormones) around a . these cells receive and transmit signals and orchestrate have the tools to rapidly sequence individual genomes UNDERGRADUATE PREPARATION Biophysicists developed the tools for microscopic long-range communication. Biophysicists have been and apply this information to the customization of fluorescent imaging and analysis of the signaling instrumental in developing neural networks; these medical treatment. This “precision medicine” approach Although all science majors can pursue biophysics, it’s networks inside cells to understand intracellular computer-based models can be used for the theoretical will continue to advance as more genomic data can important to build a strong undergraduate systems. analysis and modeling of how the brain and nervous be linked to certain diseases. Biophysics is critical to foundation by taking biology, physics, chemistry, and system work. integrating systems biology, , and proteomics mathematics courses and some advanced courses in data into information that can guide diagnostics and fields like biochemistry and neurobiology. As an medical treatment. undergraduate, take all opportunities to gain research experience. Finding work in a lab doing biophysics research will not only give you experience in the day-to-day of doing research, but it will give you an invaluable perspective of what’s happening at Biophysicists study aspects of the environment; they the cutting edge of biophysics and help you discover study atmospheric pollution, how ocean mixing and what really stokes your curiosity. turbulence affect oceanic ecosystems, and are at work BIOLOGICAL STRUCTURES developing algae into an alternative biofuel. GRADUATE PROGRAMS Biophysicists have been integral to the development The rapid collection of vast quantities of genomic, Although there are many biophysics departments, of methods and tools for determining biological proteomic, and exome data has required the develop- many biophysics graduate programs are interdisciplin- structures, especially X-ray crystallography, mass ment of new sequencing and proteomic ary programs housed in physics departments or differ- spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance. technologies rooted in biophysics. have also ent biological science programs. Biophysics research developed computational techniques to analyze and ex- mentors can be found in almost any science depart- tract useful information from large data sets and make ment including biochemistry, , chemistry, unprecedented observations within large bioengineering, computational biology, and neurobiol- samples. ogy. Most graduate training programs in biophysics offer a PhD degree, although a Master’s degree option exists in some institutions. IMAGING AND MEDICINE Biophysicists have developed sophisticated diagnostic Opportunities imaging techniques including MRIs, CT scans, and PROTEIN STRUCTURE AND MODELLING PET scans. Biophysics continues to be essential to the BIOENGINEERING, NANOTECHNOLOGY, Students with training in biophysics have unlimited Biophysicists have advanced development of even safer, faster, and more precise AND BIOMATERIALS career possibilities and pathways, including traditional structural biology by technology to improve medical imaging and teach us academic research, working in industry from small using databases with more about the body’s inner workings. Biophysicists work on a wide range of tech start-ups to large companies, protein structure data nanotechnology and biomaterials intellectual property law, science writing, or science to develop computer research, from the development of policy. The quantitative and interdisciplinary models that can predict microfluidic devices, like DNA chips, of biophysics provides excellent training for careers structures from and engineered constructs inside and outside of the lab, and the breadth and (which enable tissues to grow new sequence information. diversity of the biophysics offers students organs for implantation), to developing opportunities to explore many career options. smart biomaterials and better drug delivery systems.

Photo credits: NIH Image Gallery, Flickr, Spider Silk Image by Marlene Andersson