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Chemical physics vs physics for Bio-Physics

  1. Nov 4, 2013 #1
    I have become interested in Biophysics and there are not many programs out there with a BS in Biophysics. I know UCLA and UCSD both have programs but the rest of the UC system unfortunately does not. I will be apply for a TAG (I get guaranteed admissions to some of the UC's if I meet certain requirements) and I am trying to figure out if I should apply under regular physics or if I should apply to a chemical physics BS program. I am considering doing my TAG with UC Davis. Their Chemical Physics program is here http://chemistry.ucdavis.edu/undergraduate/bs_in_chemical_physics.html [Broken]
    This program includes some classical mechanics, mathematical physics, a course in EM, and I get to choose one more course ranging from QM to statistical physics, to second course in EM or CM. These are just the physics courses and then I get some organic and tons of physical chemisty. I feel like this in addition to maybe a minor in biology would be best? Or do you guys think a physics degree and a biology minor would be best? I feel like I would be more interested in the some of the physics courses, but biophysics research appears to be housed in the chemistry department.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2013 #2
    Anyone here doing research in biophysics?
  4. Nov 5, 2013 #3
    Physics. UCSD's chemistry department is not physical chemistry oriented and their physics department (and biology) has been steadily increasing the number of biophysics courses offered. Also, you don't want to do all the chemistry labs required for chemical physics nor the second quarter of inorganic.
  5. Nov 6, 2013 #4
    Could you actually tell me more about lab work? Also, is biophysics more physics related topics or physical chemistry? If so, which subjects in each?
  6. Nov 6, 2013 #5
    Labs are very time intensive and *if* you want to do labs that will be the most useful for biophysics then you may want to avoid the requirement of analytical chemistry, instrumental analysis and two quarters of organic chemistry. They have a place but there are other more suitable lab courses for your interests, in my opinion.

    The last question you asked is too broad to be answered adequately. In my experience, biophysics was primarily applying statistical mechanics to biological systems in the form of molecular dynamics simulations but the field has too much diversity to describe concisely.

    Could you describe your interests in more detail?
  7. Nov 6, 2013 #6
    I have been doing undergraduate research in computational biophysics for a year and a half; I have needed very little chemistry or biochemistry knowledge. I work on simulations of membrane proteins. Most of the biology I have needed (and anybody else has needed) can be picked up off the street; a biology background includes a huge wealth of information not relevant to you (from what I can tell). A biology undergrad came here for a physics graduate program, and his background hobbled him horribly (he made it, but by the skin of his teeth). Biochemistry can be more useful for different topics in biophysics, but rest assured, the two subjects are not really one in the same, and the biochemistry knowledge necessitated can also be picked up as needed (none of the graduate students have been requried to take courses in biochemistry to my knowledge; such courses are oblique to the research track).

    The mathematics I have needed has never gotten more complicated than calc 3, aside from a detour into probability theory and Markov processes. The statistical mechanics knowledge is fully utilized, and I had a difficult time contributing to the lab until I had taken a course in the subject. A little dash of E and M crops up occasionally. If you are interested in theory (i.e. parameterization of "force fields" as the chemists like to call them) you will need to be fluent in quantum chemistry.
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