What math and physics is needed for biophysics research?

In summary: Overall, I think that undergraduate degrees in physics or mathematics are more than adequate for most research in biophysics. However, if you want to specialize in a particular area, you may want to consider taking additional courses in that area.
  • #1
cordless03
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What math and physics is needed for biophysics research? Specifically having to do with medical applications. I am undergrad student interested in physics and medicine.
 
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  • #2
You might find this Insights Article on Medical Physics helpful.

Generally speaking, a typical undergraduate physics degree will be enough to qualify you for most medical physics graduate programs. If you can, supplement it with electives in biology, anatomy, programming and numerical methods, signal or image processing, etc.
 
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  • #3
It is not clear to me that medical physics is necessarily what you want since it is primarily interested in the application of physical apparatus to the treatment and diagnosis of disease. Biophysics as I usually interpret is more fundamental in nature. It is interested in studying physical processes for the understanding of how biological systems function and using this knowledge to solve practical problems.

As for your questions of math preparation I will refer you to this article "Mathematics and Biophysics"
 
  • #4
We have some folks who are active in the field of Biophysics - cancer genetics research. They might have something to add.
@Ygggdrasil
 
  • #5
Biophysics is a quite broad field with research spanning a range of disciplines, so it depends on exactly the type of biophysics research you want to do. Some research (e.g. medical physics) is very much focused on the technology and engineering side of medical imaging equipment. Some biophysics research is more theoretical and involves mathematical modeling of biological phenomena from the atomic/molecular scale (e.g. molecular dynamic simulations of protein folding) to the ecosystem scale (e. g. mathematical models of epidemics). Some biophysics involves the application of tools from physics, such as advanced optics methods, to the study of biological and biomedical problems.

Whatever type of biophysics research you want to pursue, a strong background in quantitative data analysis and familiar with computational methods to manipulate and analyze large datasets are good skills to develop. These skills are highly sought in many fields of biological and biomedical research, especially as more tools in biology now allow us to monitor the transcription of the ~20-30 thousand genes the human genome across thousands of individual cells simultaneously.
 
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  • #6
\I worked on a research project (studying bones) in a biophysics lab one summer, and it required almost no mathematics. The physicists in my lab were also doing very little mathematics. (And I like math a lot). The biology professor specializing in biophysics in the lab nearby (studying the eye) was working with an applied mathematician solving nonlinear differential equations. The moral of the story is biophysics is broad enough to accommodate all levels of mathematics.
You mention medical physics. I do not think this is very math intensive, but to get through any physics program to qualify for this specialty, you have to be pretty good at math
 
  • #7
cordless03 said:
What math and physics is needed for biophysics research? Specifically having to do with medical applications. I am undergrad student interested in physics and medicine.

I agree with Ygggdrasil. Generally, a good foundation of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics is sufficient, because that covers most of the underlying physical processes at the single-molecule level. On the other hand, if you want to go 'medical', then a good understanding of the principles underlying NMR/MRI, radiation dosimetry and imaging is more appropriate. I also agree that mastery of statistics as applied to data analysis is essential.
 

Related to What math and physics is needed for biophysics research?

1. What kind of math is used in biophysics research?

In biophysics research, a variety of mathematical concepts are used, including calculus, statistics, linear algebra, and differential equations. These tools are used to model and analyze biological systems at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.

2. How is physics applied in biophysics research?

Physics is used in biophysics research to understand the physical principles that govern biological systems. This includes concepts such as thermodynamics, mechanics, and electromagnetism, which are used to study the behavior and interactions of biological molecules and cells.

3. Do I need a strong background in both math and physics to do biophysics research?

While a strong foundation in both math and physics is beneficial for biophysics research, it is not always necessary. Some researchers may have a stronger background in one subject over the other, but collaboration and interdisciplinary work is common in this field.

4. What are some specific applications of math and physics in biophysics research?

Math and physics are used in a wide range of applications in biophysics research. For example, mathematical models are used to simulate biological processes and predict outcomes, while physical techniques like spectroscopy and microscopy are used to study the structure and function of biological molecules.

5. How can I improve my math and physics skills for biophysics research?

To improve your math and physics skills for biophysics research, it is important to have a strong foundation in these subjects and to continuously practice and apply these concepts in the context of biology. Taking relevant courses, attending seminars and workshops, and collaborating with experts in these fields can also help improve your skills.

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