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Majoring in Biophysics

  1. Sep 12, 2007 #1
    I am currently attending community college in San Diego. I have TAG (Transfer Agreement - transfer agreement requirements), which is a contract stating that I will be transferring into UC-San Diego (UCSD), once I have completed the necessary pre-requisites. I have elected Physics with a Specialization in Biophysics (Biophysics pre-requisites prior to transfer) and a dual-major in Mathematics (Mathematics pre-requisites prior to transfer). I have looked over the UCSD website, but currently, it doesn't display any recommended courses to take in conjunction with my physics and mathematics courses (http://physics.ucsd.edu/).

    I am wondering, is Mathematics the best option for my double-major, or should I choose something like Biology? I want to do research in areas modeling and describing how these intricate, interconnected neural networks work at the microcosmic, physical level. How is sensory information physically encoded and transferred through these networks? What is the topological and geometrical relationship between these objects and the physics which govern these operations? What is the fundamental, overall physics involved guiding these operations? Can we understand the mechanisms of consciousness, awareness, and perception through physics, or do these properties only emerge at a macroscopic level?

    Anyways, if anyone has any information or suggestions related to pursuing this major, and what would be a good educational plan, or what courses I should take, please let me know.

    I do not want to take a lot of biology courses, when I should take chemistry courses, or take a bunch of chemistry courses, when I should be taking biology courses. Do I take cognitive neuroscience courses when I get to UCSD? If so, which ones? What type of programming courses will I need to take. What maths should I be doing, to help me understand the Biophysics.

    Anyways, sorry for rambling.

    Thank you for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2007 #2

    I am a graduating senior from UCSD so may I advice you on few things. I am also a transfer student and my following advices are basically things I would have done if I can go back to where you are now~ (T_T )

    First, If I were you, I would dig in to some computer sciences. CC has lots of computer science classes like C, Java, and so on. Take them all and practice! Also, get used to using UNIX and Matlab. Don't worry about learning Mathematica, you will learn all about it while taking Mathematical Physics class here at UCSD. This will get you into a good research opportunity here at UCSD. I know alot of us who do, get paid position, doing awesome research, all started by e-mail saying "I know how to do and that, can I join your lab?". Now if you could do this starting from your Junior year (rather than Senior year) it would nice.

    If you don't like above option, there's another option. Go buy yourself a electroscope from E-bay and get really good at electronics(covering Art of Electronics-student workout book by Horowitz might do it). This will get you equivalent opportunity as above.

    Now, that's just something you should while spending most of your energy studying basic Physics and Mathematics.

    When you come to UCSD, you will end up following regular curriculum set by Physics department until the very last few quarters. In you case, you will be taking Biophysics courses for your elective. However, in my personal opinion, following general Physics major track is better. That way you can(if you chose to) take almost any classes that are relevant to your future goal and make them elective(including Biophysics courses). For example, maybe you might want to take MRI class from bioengineering department or signal processing class from electrical engineering department. If you're physics major then you can take them and petition to make them your elective.

    Anyway, Goodluck
  4. Sep 12, 2007 #3
    Make sure you take some biochemistry courses and for those you need basic cell biology and organic chemistry courses as prerequisites. If you are planning to go into Biophysics after undergrad and/or modeling (maybe Mathematical Biology??) – the biochemistry courses will open up a lot more doors for you because you will be able to do basic lab work and model your results. Also find out if your Math dept offers any courses in Mathematical Biology and definitely take those.
  5. Sep 12, 2007 #4
    Being another biophysics student (different university), based on your interests cognitive science courses and neural biology would be great. Additionally, if you have any system science courses offered (system science is sometimes put under dynamic systems or chaotic systems) I would take those.

    It sounds like you are more interested in mathematical biology and taking the time to really grasp geometry and topology sounds like a great idea. Additionally, it seems you are also interested in signaling, which is often an interest in an EE department, so pick up a few of those while your at it.

    Chemistry wise, P. Chem and O. Chem (if you can fit it in). Biochem will open doors; however, if you have the other two down you can pick up a lot of biochem while your in the lab.

    Best of luck!
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