The first career in biophysics began when Conrad Roentgen discovered that X-rays could be used to treat cancer and it became necessary to measure how much energy human tissue absorbs when exposed to various kinds of radiation. There are now many medical physicists who help physicians at hospitals diagnose and treat various diseases. In addition to human beings, biophysics jobs incorporate the study of all levels of biological organization, from molecules to ecosystems. Careers in molecular biophysics approach questions in biochemistry and molecular biology quantitatively by using fluorescent imaging, electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, and spectroscopy based on nuclear magnetic resonance and quantum tunneling. Molecular biology, of course, is concerned with important molecules like enzymes, DNA, and proteins. The structure of DNA was determined by X-ray crystallography. Molecular biophysics jobs often overlap with nanotechnology, which involves manipulating materials one atom or one molecule at a time.
Biophysics careers also overlap with systems biology and bioengineering. Bioengineering applies engineering principles to biology and medicine, an example being designing prosthetics. Systems biology is the study of organ systems (biology systems) with an integrationist rather than a reductionist approach. The scientific method usually is associated with identifying the components of interactions and showing how complex systems can be reduced to simple systems. However, in biophysics work an attempt is made to understand the complexity of biological systems by observing multiple components simultaneously and integrating the observations with mathematical models and an understanding of statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, and chemical kinetics.
Career biophysicists discovered the self-generating wave of electrochemical activity that allows nerve cells to propagate information over distances (action potential). The nerve cells of squids were used because the nerve axons are 1000 times wider than in humans, making it easier to insert electrodes. It was discovered that the action potential was caused by changes in the permeability of the cell membrane to sodium and potassium.
What is Biophysics I Biophysics Applications, Career opportunities, Salary & More
Careers in biophysics
A background in biophysics prepares you for a wide variety of jobs in the workforce. Before sending in your job applications, make sure you have the required qualifications for each position. Here are 13 careers in biophysics you can pursue:
Primary duties: Laboratory technicians perform various procedures in a laboratory. They also maintain laboratory equipment, assist lead scientists with their duties, collect and analyze samples or substances, record observations and design laboratory testing that aligns with standard testing procedures.
Primary duties: Radiologists diagnose and treat a variety of injuries and illnesses with medical imaging procedures like X-rays and ultrasounds. They also evaluate a patients medical history, interpret test results, work alongside other medical professionals and prepare detailed reports of their findings.
Primary duties: Research associates monitor the progress of research projects and perform different tests and studies. They also perform advanced experiments, collect, prepare and analyze specimens and conduct research and analysis directed by a senior-level researcher.
Primary duties: Microbiologists study microscopic life forms or organisms such as bacteria and algae. They determine the identity of these organisms and each organisms growth to better understand their characteristics and how best to treat a variety of infectious diseases.
Primary duties: Clinical research coordinators conduct clinical trials that abide by clinical practice guidelines, all under the direction of a principal investigator. They manage research budgets, ensure the smooth run of a clinical trial, collect and analyze data from research and administer questionnaires.
Primary duties: Environmental scientists identify environmental hazards as well as hazards to Earths inhabitants. They gather environmental data for scientific analysis, evaluate samples and surveys to identify threats to the environment and create plans to help prevent or control environmental issues.
Primary duties: Ecologists study the relationships between living organisms such as humans with the environment. They perform environmental site assessments, collect specimens, monitor erosion control, analyze data with statistical models and perform field, lab and theoretical research.
Primary duties: Chemists study the properties and overall composition of matter. They perform experiments using lab equipment, test solutions, analyze compounds, perform quality control tests and evaluate and report on test results. Chemists also determine how to improve processes and equipment.
Primary duties: Pharmacologists develop new drugs via proper research and testing. They identify potential side effects for these medications, evaluate the safety and effectiveness of newly developed drugs, interpret data, make recommendations based on their findings and manage staff.
Primary duties: Medical writers create written content for scientific documents, including promotional literature and research-related documents. They research and understand the scientific work theyre covering, review and edit medical writing and stay up-to-date on medical literature and advancements.
Primary duties: Physicians promote, restore and help their patients maintain their overall health. They order tests, analyze test results, create treatment plans for their patients, help patients understand the side effects of medicine, perform medical procedures, diagnose patients and record patient medical history.
Primary duties: Endocrinologists diagnose and treat hormone-related diseases and conditions. They analyze patients and their medical histories to identify hormonal imbalances. Endocrinologists also advise patients, order and perform tests and interpret test results to better diagnose patients.
Primary duties: Optometrists examine, diagnose and treat eye diseases and disorders. They conduct vision tests, analyze test results, diagnose eye problems like glaucoma and create prescriptions eyeglasses and contact lenses. Depending on the state where they practice, optometrists may also prescribe medications.
What is biophysics?
Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that uses physics theories and practices to understand various biological phenomena. Biophysics helps answer biological questions such as how plants extract energy or how a proteins change in shape affects how it works.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about a career in biophysics:
What skills do you need for a career in biophysics?
Key skills for this field include communication, organizational, teamwork and management skills. As a biophysics professional, its also important to have a strong understanding of concepts of physics, biological processes, applied theory and mathematical principles.
What is the job outlook for biophysicist?
What are the education requirements for a career in biophysics?
The education requirements for a career in biophysics depend on the career itself and oftentimes, the employer. Biophysicists, in general, need at least a bachelors degree in chemistry, physics or mathematics, and a masters degree. In comparison, microbiologists only need a bachelors degree in microbiology or a related field and pharmacologists need an advanced degree such as a Ph.D. or a Doctor of Pharmacy in a related field.
What careers are in biophysics?
- Laboratory technician.
- Research associate.
- Clinical research coordinator.
- Environmental scientist.
Is biophysics a good field?
Is biophysics a demand?
What can a biophysicist do?