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Bridge from physics to biology

  1. Dec 6, 2015 #1
    Hey guys,

    so I am finishing my bachelor in physics and start to thing about my next steps.
    I am burning for very fundamental research topics but have a feeling that I lack the mathematical skill (or interest) to go deeper into theoretical physics.

    I started to read some literature on evolution and genetics the past weeks and was surprised to discover that many challenges on this field are all about physics.

    Hey, i thought then, this could be a really cool turn for me.
    Unfortunately, there is no master like Biophysics in my town and Biomedical Engineering seems to be very industry oriented. Pure Evolution/Genetics Master Programs like http://www.evobio.eu/ appearently only take students of biology.

    What do you guys think would be the best way to close that bridge?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 6, 2015 #2
    Can you list a few?

    If you are limiting yourself to your 'town' you'll find your options severely limited as well.

    Your should try to establish some communication with a few people in fields of interest to you if this post doesn't give you some direction. You can also try asking some professors if they can recommend any subject areas or perhaps people they know who might provide you some possibilities.
  4. Dec 6, 2015 #3


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    You've nearly completed a bachelors in physics but only now feel like you might lack mathematical skill to do physics research? What brought about this feeling?

    There is more to doing fundamental research than just theory, physics has lots of avenues to pursue to be able to contribute and do research.

    Maybe it's time to leave your town? Since it appears you're somewhere in the EU, you have quite a few opportunities to find a university for biophysics that appeals to you.

    If nothing appeals to you in your area, or seems plausible, then leave that area! Based purely on what is said in the post, I think you might be underestimating your own ability in being able to contribute to physics. However, if you really want to go the bio route, then finding a good biophysics graduate program shouldn't be too onerous.
  5. Dec 6, 2015 #4
    Thank you for your responses!

    Thermodynamics, kinetic systems and proton gradients of cell respiration.
    Computational models needed to simulate evolutionary processes.
    And the whole neurophysics field.

    That's because I did a course on general relativity.
    To really get the hang of this, it feels like I need to revisit every single course in mathematics.
    Not that I have given up, but this is certainly what started this feeling.

    I totally agree :D
  6. Dec 6, 2015 #5
    Unlikely that you will be needing general relativity in order to get involved with biophysics.
  7. Dec 6, 2015 #6
    That's the point. ^^
  8. Dec 6, 2015 #7


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    I think you could change this to "It's unlikely you'd need general relativity in order to get involved with many areas of physics research." There are plenty of areas in physics that use zero GR.

    I also "failed" (C-) a graduate level GR class I took as an undergrad for "fun." (GR wasn't required to be taken beyond what parts were condensed into other courses) The level (and type) of mathematics needed to do work in GR is different than whats required to do work in say, some areas in CM. That said, if you like what BP has to offer I think you already know what you need to do. =)
  9. Dec 6, 2015 #8
  10. Dec 7, 2015 #9
    ah, now I understand.....I know those as 'biological' processes.

    While not my field, there is also computer modeling of fundamental biological processes. I just did a Google search "biological process modelling".....lots to see under that or a similar heading..

    Also, have you considered talking with a medical school? say, looking at what curriculum topics involve physics. See what challenges involving physics they can identify....

    Picking an initial field of interest doesn't have to be a life long commitment; you can change as do your inclinations. Try studying some tangential fields, or at least look into them, and see what you find. Not only
    will you change as you gain experience, fields themselves change as technology advances.

    Finding a field that really interests you reminiscent of life: lots of dead ends, disappointments, but like learning to walk, its not the number of times you fall down but the number of times you get up that counts.
  11. Dec 7, 2015 #10
    A friend happened to just send this video to me...

    electrical engineering, physics, and medical treatment intersects.


    Two minutes or so will give you the basic idea.....

    This is treatment; it's distinct from prevention which could be another separate avenue of study.
  12. Dec 7, 2015 #11
    Thank you all for your responses!

    I will look up more about medical physics,
    but it is also good to know that my lost faith in math was maybe short sighted ^^
  13. Dec 24, 2015 #12
  14. Dec 24, 2015 #13


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    There two separate issues here:

    1. I don't want to do research in theoretical physics

    2. I want to go into biological/medical physics.

    TOPIC 1: why do you think theoretical physics is the ONLY type of research that you can go into? Why are you ignoring the important and LARGER area of various experimental physics that are available out there? This is the common attitude that we frequently see in here: theoretical physics or bust! Why is that?

    TOPIC 2: if you are seeking to go into graduate school, there are plenty out there that offer programs in biological or medical physics. You didn't explain why you are tied to only schools in your " town". Pursue this if you have a keen interest in it. Don't pursue it because you can't do "theoretical physics" and do not realize that there are other areas of research in physics that are not just "theoretical".

  15. Jan 12, 2016 #14
    Well, rather that I have a keen interest in both and since it's hard to decide I just looked in the direction that seemed easier.
    After all your thoughts, though, I realize that I this is stupid and will stick with physics for now until I may or may not hit a limit.
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