biophysics or theoretical biology?

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Joined: Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:15 pm

biophysics or theoretical biology?

Post by paradox » Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:37 pm

"The trouble with you, Rosen, is you're always trying to answer questions that nobody wants to ASK!" Anonymous, aggrieved scientist, to Robert Rosen... circa mid-1970's

It's worth noting, there's a distinct difference between physical interpretation of biological phenomena and physicist bring the full brunt of their knowledge on biology.

The first is just a quantum view of biology. The latter is an attempt to turn biology to some sort of near-predictive science (with information theoretic/discrete math).

I can't tell you about rankings, but I can tell you from looking at research. The following schools have programs that interest me:
UIUC (part of the physics department)
MIT (see systems biology)
UCSD (has a big computational biology program of note!)
Johns Hopkins (a seperate department of it's own!)
Columbia (molecular biology emphasis in seperate department)
Rockefeller University (probably one of the best places in the world for biophysics)
CalTech (of course)


Just an ancedotal list based on my perusal of research. Incidentally a little chemistry (i.e. organic/biochemistry) would probably go a long way towards helping out your admissions chances.

Also, there's a big difference between a stand-alone interdisciplinary department versus a sub-field of a physics department. Do you have any specific interests? Take a look at some of the OCW courses in physics and systems biology at MIT. They even have some video lectures and/or extensive course notes (i.e. a book) for the course online. Also take a look at the KITP at UCSB. They have streaming video of different lectures/conferences as well.

If you take away anything from this post -- not all biophysics curriculua is created equal. It's incredibly diverse -- which probably is why it's a lot more fun! Don't just look at traditional physics departments. Look at interdisplinary groups that have physicists on staff.

KITP at UCSB [several biophysics conferences; with streaming video lectures listed]

good courses at MIT's OCW site ... /index.htm [systems biology course in the physics department; taught by a physicist] ... /index.htm [a good systems biology course with a computational/information theoretic emphasis; taught by a molecular biologist with a chemistry background]

P.S. Please take my opinions with a grain of salt. The most important thing is you find some area of research you're interested in!

Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:15 pm

sorry, wrong forum/topic

Post by paradox » Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:48 pm

I was replying to another post. Like a dummy, I posted a stupidly detailed post to the wrong forum. Right site, good post -- wrong forum.

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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 3:58 pm

Post by Relativist » Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:40 am

i agree, nice post. btw, what is UIUC?

Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:15 pm

Post by paradox » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:37 am

UIUC=University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I guess most people refer to it as just U. of Illinois.

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Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 2:08 am

Post by quarky » Fri Jun 30, 2006 2:22 am

Something i was confused about when i was applying to grad school was whether my chances were better if I applied to the physics department with a specialisation in biophysics or whether i should apply to the biophysics i went 50- 50 and got admitted easily to the physics programs but genearlly didnt make it through the biophysics program..that could be because of my pure physics background with no courses in chemistry or biology, i had a very good subject gre score in physics and overall a very strong physics background but lacking in the bio side,so thats why i guess my admits were from the schools where i applied to their physics department...

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