The College of Arts and Sciences is now offering a major in biophysics, to be administered by the Physics Department. Biophysicist Rae Anderson, PhD and colleagues in the departments of Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Marine Sciences and Environmental Studies researched and designed the major for students with broad scientific interests. The Bachelor of Arts degree is an interdisciplinary program, with required courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology.
The program's founders agree that science is becoming more and more interdisciplinary. The new major will give students the opportunity to embrace the expansion of ideas across the traditional lines of science.
According to Anderson, Biophysics majors will have freedom to pursue individual scientific interests. Preparation for the major consists of 38 units in math, physics, chemistry and biology. Upper division requirements include 29 units in physics, chemistry and biology. Marine science courses, among others, can be used to satisfy upper division electives.
"The major is designed to be flexible to allow students to focus on what interests them most within the broad field of biophysics," Anderson said.
According to Anderson, the Biophysics major should appeal to students who are interested in biology and chemistry, but who enjoy the quantitative problem-solving aspects of skills gained from physics. It might also appeal to students who desire a science major, but find it difficult to choose just one discipline.
Students of biophysics will explore the ways in which the physical sciences relate to the biological world. The major will also incorporate more mathematical analysis than other science disciplines.
Anderson said major will prepare students for graduate studies in biophysics as well as careers in medicine and the health professions. The prescribed biophysics courses contain most of the requirements for pre-health students who are interested in applying to medical school or veterinary school. Other biophysics career paths include research and biotechnology—a booming industry in our region.
San Diego is currently one of the national hubs for biotechnology, and the new program will be the area's only dedicated undergraduate degree in Biophysics, giving USD students an edge in an emerging field.
Anderson, who will serve as program director, said students will have opportunities for undergraduate biophysics research in her lab. And, due to the cooperative nature of the program, students may pursue opportunities to conduct research in other science departments.
- Anne Malinoski ‘11