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Unsure of what to do in college

  1. Jul 17, 2012 #1
    This coming fall, I will be entering my freshman year of college, where I will be studying biochemistry, something I have wanted to do all of my life. I have high interests in the subject and am a strong math and science student. However, after researching the field in greater depth, it seems somewhat lacking to me (no offence to anyone in the field). To elaborate, I also love mathematics and cannot imagine working without it at a higher level. I have contemplated double majoring in the two. I am also interested in biophysics, but I do not know what is entirely encopassed by the field. I tend to think visually, so I would enjoy working with structures and kinetics. I do not know the difficulty of college level physics and do not know how I would do in the classes. Due to the math required for my major, I could only double minor in mathematics and physics, and my school's physics sequence is quirky, to say the least, so I have some conflict about it. In summation, would a biochemistry major and a double minor in mathematics and physics prepare me for graduate work in biophysics? Or am I approaching this entirely from the wrong direction due to my interest in math? What exists at the biochemistry - mathematics interface? I am interested in physics, but I had a bad experience with it in high school (due to lack of students, the only available class was at the academic level), is there a way to guage whether or not biophysics is right for me?
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  3. Jul 17, 2012 #2


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    If your goal is to do biophysics in graduate school you should ideally be doing a major in physics during your undergrad. Minors usually don't cut it for admissions.

    However, it seems like you're a little conflicted. It's perfectly fine to start out doing a general science first year to get your feet wet and figure out what all of these different subjects are like at the university level.
  4. Jul 17, 2012 #3
    At one time, I was in a similar predicament... After researching graduate programs for biophysics, it turns out that MANY of the biophysics programs are actually housed in biochemistry or even biology departments, although a large number are in physics. There are many different subfields of biophysics that you can focus on in graduate school and some of them are more biochemistry related than physics. There's room in biophysics for people from math and comp sci as well.

    The biochemistry side of things tends to focus more on the chemical processes from the standpoint of a chemist. This includes the subfield of molecular biophysics.

    The physicists tend to focus more on the mathematical/physical explanations (as you may have guessed), as well as novel instrumentation and imaging techniques. This would include structural biophysics, biophotonics and single molecular biophysics. A popular research topic in structural biophysics is coming up with mathematical models of how proteins fold themselves.

    The line between biochemistry and physics when it comes to biophysics gets VERY blurry most of them time, but there are general differences between the two. As far as which field is more exciting for biophysics? I would have to say PHYSICS. Biochemists have been looking at biophysics problems for quite a while now but physicists have just recently begun to play their hand at the field. This leaves a lot of room for future advancement in the field. There are some very exciting advancements taking place in biophysics and there will be many more in the near future.

    Tons of info about the field can be found here:

    More good info:
  5. Jul 17, 2012 #4
    Thank you for your responses. I understand that physics is the better major to attempt biophysics with, but the whole reason I want to study biophysics is to understand life's mechanisms and complexity at a deeper level; I would feel even more conflicted about waiting 4 years to hone in on biology like a biochemistry major would allow me to do. That being said, physics is obviously crucial for me to know, I was planning on taking courses in classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, modern physics (quantum, atomic, and molecular physics), and circuits/ electronics and doing independent studies, with help from a professor when needed, in electromagnetic fields (covering dielectrics and Maxwell's equations, etc.), thermodynamics, and more quantum physics. The independent studies are due to a lack of room for formal courses, if I took these courses, I would have at least 6 courses per semester. Would this prepare me aptly for such a program and put me at a level close to people who majored in physics? Also, aside from perspective, do molecular and structural biophysics vary much in topic? (These programs interest me the most.) And how do structural biophysics and structural biology differ? I was under the impression that structural biology incorporated a good amount of physics and technique in protein analysis through crystallography, NMR, and other methods, I am most likely mistaken in regards to the level of physics used.
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