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Is BioPhysics research a mistake?

  • Thread starter poobar
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi all,
I am a current physics undergrad student. I recently got a position on a research team doing several different biophysics research projects. Since I am just an undergrad, I get to start out doing basic low-level work like running image analysis algorithms. I am getting a little bit worried because I feel as though biophysics may turn out to be more biology than actual physics. This is a concern because as a physics undergrad I want research experience in physics, not biology.

I know I have hardly provided any details. Just ask whatever additional information you may want and I will do my best to answer.

I guess my question is basically this: For someone who wants to go to grad school for physics but is not sure of what specific area, does it make sense for me to do biophysics research, or would it be better to do something like liquid helium physics, or neutrino physics, etc.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I could be wrong, but I think as an undergrad, ANY physics research is good, including biophysics. Plus you never know, you might really like it and want to continue.
 
  • #3
Choppy
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I don't think it's a mistake at all.

Regardless of the field, chances are as an undergrad, you're going to end up doing "low-level" work.

In biophysics, you will likely have to pick up some biology to understand the context of what you're doing. But if it was pure biology, chances are there would be a million biology undergraduates lining up to do the work as well. You're in a much better position to judge, but chances are there's a reason why they wanted a physics student to help out with the project.

You might want to consider the person who would be mentoring you. Is this person a physicist?

Another factor to consider is the difference between an opportunity you HAVE and an opportunity you MIGHT GET. If you're one of those students who will have six summer studentships to chose from and professors emailing you on a daily basis asking for you to come into their lab then go ahead and wait for a project that's more in line with what you see yourself doing. Otherwise, if this is your only sure thing, you may want to jump on it.

And if it makes a difference, I don't think admissions committees are necessarily as impressed with the topic of undergraduate research so much as they are impressed by the experience you have from having gone through the process and the conclusions you were able to bring the work to.
 
  • #4
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Biophysics is fascinating, I learnt about nerve cells in my Undergraduate course, modelling them as circuits and learning how the brain functions with control theory, and never regretted it. Partly because it is a different sort of topic to most physics and that was refreshing, but (and feel free to use this line in interviews ;) ) it taught me how physics can be used in very different circumstances from the ones you are lectured on, and learning how to apply your physics to the world in general is a useful skill. That said, it's not less 'physicsy' than relativistic chromohoohaa, and anywhere you apply to will recognise that so don't feel like it's a dead end.
 
  • #5
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ok, thanks so much to you all for your responses. I guess, my worry really was that biophysics may turn out to be less "physicsy" than other areas, but I agree with all of your posts. I guess I am just a bit nervous with my first research experience, and don't want to start off on the wrong foot. However, it certainly is true that any research experience is better than none. My mentoring professor is a physicist in the physics department, so I will not worry about it anymore. Thanks for the opinions and the help!
 

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