A scientific program that focuses on the dynamics and interactions of macromolecules and other three-dimensional ultrastructures, the architecture of supramolecular structures, and energy transfer in biomolecular systems. Includes instruction in energy transduction, structural dynamics, mechanisms of electron and proton transfer in biological systems, bioinformatics, automated analysis, and specialized research techniques.
Careers in biophysics focus on understanding the mechanics that drive the natural functions of biological organisms.
What is this made of, and how does it work? What does it do, and why does it do that? These are the kinds of questions molecular biophysicists try to answer using all the tools at their disposal, from specialized computer modeling systems to advanced mathematics. They break down all kinds of processes - from photosynthesis to flight to nuclear magnetic resonance - to their most essential mechanisms, using quantitative skills to understand the living world.
There are many types of molecular biophysicists; some focus on mapping brain activity, while others spend their days tracking subcellular activity in plants. The day to day work depends enormously on the sector a biophysicist works in, whether that's medical research or agricultural engineering.
Work in molecular biophysics may include...
- Collaborating with specialists across fields to achieve a singular goal
- Developing or using computer programs to 3D model biological systems
- Using biophysical methods to determine the makeup and dynamics of biological samples
- Keeping detailed scientific records of lab activity
- Analyzing and interpreting results
Employers in biophysics are all over the map, from independent research institutions and university labs to hospitals and tech companies. Outside of the realm of traditional practical science, those with knowledge of biophysics can apply it to legal pursuits, marketing, or administration. The most important thing across all of these settings is experience and dedication; labs in particular want to hire scientists who can demonstrate a commitment to the work and have the research experience to back it up.
Most of the people working in biophysics have at least a Bachelor's degree. Completing a four-year undergraduate program in biological science typically ensures a certain degree of knowledge and skill, especially when it comes to analytical thinking and lab conduct. Coursework in molecular biology and chemistry is essential, and it doesn't hurt to explore related disciplines such as neuroscience, applied mathematics, or bioengineering. Beyond the classroom, experience is crucial, which is why many scientists enroll in Master's programs that enable them to explore biophysics work in a dedicated learning environment. Many lab roles will hire a candidate with either a Bachelor's or a Master's degree, provided they have adequate experience working in a similar environment, but a PhD is required in order to conduct advanced research, head up a lab, or teach biophysics in a higher education setting.
New developments in biophysics make all kinds of scientific progress possible every day. If you've ever looked at something in the natural world and been struck by a driving curiosity about its mechanisms, biophysics might be a rewarding discipline to explore.
The Biophysical Society has an extremely comprehensive site and is the go-to resource for biophysics in the US.