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Can I be a Biophysicist without biology?

  1. Feb 4, 2015 #1
    So my future dream job is to study life with a more scientific/theoretical approach. I'm super interested in biology subjects but when it comes to actually doing it I don't like biology; to me, it's just a lot of memorization and not as much problem solving as i'd like. I've already started down a path of double majoring physics/chemistry and I love those two subjects so the question is.. Can I end up working as a biophysicist without getting some degree in biology; of course i'll have to take more Biol courses on the way but with undergraduates in only phys/chem and not much Biology experience, how should I go about getting this dream job (and graduate degree in Biophysics)?
    Also, any other advice/suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2015 #2
    I'm not sure what to make of your post. Sure, you can pursue a doctoral degree in biophysics without an undergraduate degree in a biological science (many biophysics graduate programs, at least in the USA, are open to applicants from a wide range of backgrounds). I am tremendously curious what biology courses you've taken (or related experiences you've had) to have given you such a negative-sounding outlook on biology, but are still interested in pursuing biological research. It must have been quite an experience to have left you in that position.
  4. Feb 4, 2015 #3
    I've taken up to Genetics and had a hard time with the class (failed it); genetics and advice from other students gave me this attitude toward biology. Maybe it gets better eventually..I still definitely like the subject. Thanks for your answer
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  5. Feb 4, 2015 #4


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    Do you like the subject in spite of itself ('defiantly') or ('definitely')?
  6. Feb 4, 2015 #5
    fixed, thanks
  7. Feb 5, 2015 #6


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    You don't need biology to go into biophysics.

    That said, it could be a flag if you particularly want to avoid studying the subject. I'd pay particular attention to the flag if it's the material or methods of the field that are concerning you. On the other hand, if you find that you're curious to read about it and learn about it on you own, but just don't seem to get much out of your classes, then that's probably not worth worrying about too much.

    In my experience the students who go on to become the more successful researchers are the ones that are struggling to confine all of their interests, rather than those who are trying to avoid certain aspects of the field.
  8. Feb 5, 2015 #7
    Yes, physics is generally more important for biophysics, but it depends on what type of biophysics is done, which depends on the research institute. Sometimes biophysicists are pure physicists, sometimes they are interdisciplinary life scientists with a biophysics specialization, I guess very rarely they are pure biologists, but that depends very much on which tracks and specializations a certain bio program has. The more generalist programs with lots of field work, developmental biology, zoology, and ecology will be very hard to adopt into biophysics.
    A purely molecular biology programme on the other hand, that cuts out all the fore-mentioned, will be much more suitable.

    When you are a chemist first and foremost, this learns you a lot more about biology. In the end, biology is just a bunch of chemical reactions. However, biological reactions are often very different from reactions we employ in labs and factories.

    We can have concentrated acid, boil stuff, use solvents different from H2O, use metal powder as a catalyst. Nature has very different conditions and must use enzymes to get around these limitations, making things very vague as compared to the very clear reactions in ordinary chemistry.
    Biochemistry and biophysics are often very closely linked despite kind of being opposites of the same thing.
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