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The Apparent Rarity that is Biophysics

  1. Oct 14, 2007 #1
    Are there any biophysicists/grad students in biophysics around that could offer me some advice? (Or if you have any friends/acquaintances in the field).

    After mulling through this thread:
    I am now feeling on less firm ground with wanting to get my Ph.D. in biophysics.

    Understand me, I love education and being educated. My rather optimistic dream was to eventually get my Ph.D. in biophysics after getting my undergrad B.S. in physics (supplemented with a year of gen. chem w/ lab, a year of gen bio. w/ lab, and possibly a year of o. chem and a course or two on biochem. also an awesome bioinformatics course offered here on computational biology.). I wanted to eventually work at a research university like the one I attend now, hopefully working on protein folding or at least cell membrane/transfer systems. Were I not able to do so, I would just want to go into industry.

    Now I feel like I really have to rethink what I want to do. A lot of biophysics programs seem to also accept chem majors, biochem majors and the like, though I know my passion is definitely in biophysics. A couple things seem to be thwarting me:

    1) I don't know if I can handle a physics major. I'm just not mathematically inclined enough, and though I'm taking the honors level physics here for 1st/2nd year I just don't feel like I will ever make the GPA required to get into a good grad school (my GPA at the end of this quarter should be around a 3.5/3.6 cumulative, and this is the first quarter of my 2nd year [I had a rough time getting adjusted 1st year]). Should I switch majors and do biochemistry/chemistry instead (and instead supplement that with relevant physics/math courses)?

    2) Again with the Ph.D. thing. I love school, I love classes, and I love pursuing my education in a formal setting (with the possibility of eventually teaching at a college level). If I do end up getting my Ph.D. in biophysics, how strong are my opportunities for getting a decent career afterwards? Should I instead be looking for an M.S. program in biophysics, or getting an M.S. or Ph.D. in a different field that would still allow me to work in biophysics?

    Thanks for any input. I know that biophysics isn't too popular as most people do physics because they love the aspect of figuring out the world (whereas I just want to understand living things from a highly mathematical/physical standpoint).
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2007 #2


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    From what I can see, I think the hottest (or soon-to-be hottest) fields in physics are material-science/condensed-matter and biophysics. "Interdisciplinary" (or "Multidisciplinary") is becoming the new buzzword.
  4. Oct 14, 2007 #3
    3.5/3.6 is a very good GPA and good enough to get you into a good graduate school. Just go where your interests lie. If the research that you find interesting is being done in physics departments, go with physics. If in Chem, go chem, etc etc.
  5. Oct 15, 2007 #4
    My school offers an undergrad biophys program. It's basically phys and math courses supplemented with chem, bio, and biochem courses with 1 or 2 actual biophysics courses offered by the phys dept. It’s a tough road: You’ll need to take general cell bio I&II, organic (including lab) and physical chem, additional microbiology/bio/bioc electives, and the required math/phys courses. However if you can get through it, you will have a lot of opportunities. My friend who is in the program had an abundance of summer opportunities to work in various labs from cancer research to his own project funded by the biophys lab. He had the grades to get it, however it was his background in biology, chemistry, AND physics which made him attractive to so many other depts over their own majors. IMO, you would not have too much trouble finding a job, esp in the industry.

    Here is the link to the undergrad biophys site at my school. You can see what kind of courses you should take now if you plan to pursue biophys. Daunting!

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