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Biology Physics and Maths v/s Biology content in Biophysics

  1. Mar 30, 2016 #1
    I have a Master's degree in Physics and am planning to switch over to Biophysics and wish to know a but about the field in general in terms of the following aspects.
    I've had a few internships on Biophysics in the past and have loved working in this field. However, I have absolutely no experimental experience. I also do not have a solid foundation of biological concepts in terms of formal courses in my university (I only did one introductory course on Biotechnology). Would this affect me as a researcher in this field in the future?
    I love solving problems in Mathematics and Physics and developing an understanding of physical concepts through a bottom-up approach. On the contrary, with my experience in Biophysics, I have a feeling that biophysics has a top-down approach based on observations on experience and different than physics in that aspect (please correct me if I'm wrong). Although I do like learning about biological systems, I feel that this difference of approach would be an obstacle for me in doing research as a biophysicist and may eventually lead me into disliking the subject. Is this a valid assumption? Are there any discoveries in Biophysics that have been made based on theoretical research and later confirmed through experiments?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2016 #2
    Biophysics is a very interdisciplinary field with very different approaches taken by research groups.

    There is 100% experimental biophysics. There is 100% theoretical biophysics. It can be top down or bottoms up. It is correct to say that most is top down, as a lot of bottoms up stuff would usually be considered physical chemistry. It can be done by teams of biologists or chemists. Or it can be done by teams of physicists and mathematicians. Or a mix.

    In some groups the biological aspects are very important and you need a lot of mol. bio and biochemstry skills. If you need a big repertoire of them and you need to have the right insight on which one to use, then a more biological can be helpful. But if you just need to execute a certain protocol, you can just learn that technique and become competent, without having to learn everything else.

    There's few people trained as pure biophysicists since their BSc degree. For a good team you need people with different backgrounds. If it was just biologists and a lost chemist, it wouldn't be called biophysics.

    There is lots of research where computer models are being build. For metabolic networks, for actin or microtubuli assembly, for soft matter, for pharmakinetics, etc. I am sure you can google and find research groups on biophysics, and see what they do.
    Usually it makes sense for a project to have both an experimental and theoretical element. Sometimes the same person does the same research, at other times, different people do different work on the project.

    And let's not forget about the chemistry involved.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
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