Biophysics

The biophysics major integrates the physical principles that are part of the core material found in a traditional physics major with areas of interest in the life sciences. Offering many possible avenues via molecular/cellular, biomechanical, organismal, and/or physiological sequences, the major is appropriate for students interested in attending graduate school in physics or biophysics and provides a solid background for students planning a career in the health fields.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who have completed a major in biophysics, when confronted with a natural phenomenon, should be able to examine, model, and analyze the system and effectively communicate the findings.

Specifically, students should be able to:

  1. Develop a conceptual framework for understanding the system by identifying the key physical principles, relationships, and constraints underlying the system.
  2. If required, develop a physical experiment to analyze the system within the framework. This includes:
    • Designing the experiment.
    • Making basic order-of-magnitude estimates.
    • Working with standard data-measuring devices such as oscilloscopes, digital multi-meters, signal generators, etc.
    • Identifying and appropriately addressing the sources of systematic error and statistical error in their experiment.
  3. Translate that conceptual framework into an appropriate mathematical format/model;
  4. (a) If the mathematical model/equations are analytically tractable, carry out the analysis of the problem to completion (by demonstrating knowledge of and proficiency with the standard mathematical tools of physics and engineering).
    (b) If the model/equations are not tractable, develop a computer code and/or use standard software/programming languages (e.g., MATLAB, Maple,Python) to numerically simulate the model system.
  5. Use with proficiency standard methods of data analysis (e.g., graphing, curve-fitting, statistical analysis, Fourier analysis, etc.).
  6. Intelligently analyze, interpret, and assess the reasonableness of the answers obtained and/or the model’s predictions.
  7. Effectively communicate their findings (either verbally and/or via written expression) to diverse audiences.