Biophysics

The interdisciplinary biophysics program explores the complexity of living systems with a quantitative physical approach.

Biophysicists apply the understanding, methods and quantitative skills gained in physics to a vast array of biological systems to gain new insights into gene therapy, cancer, muscle function, cell motility, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and biomaterials technology. The collective knowledge, skills and experiences students gain through this unique interdisciplinary program make them highly competitive for prestigious scholastic awards, medical school and graduate school admissions, and employment at leading biotechnology and bioengineering companies.

Biophysics Coursework

Classes in molecular and cellular biophysics, thermodynamics, fluids, and optics, as well as those from biology, chemistry and math, prepare students to start tackling the unsolved problems plaguing scientists at the intersection of life sciences and physical sciences. Our nationally-recognized advanced laboratory course prepares students to conduct independent research and write scientific papers. Our independent research and capstone experiences enable students to explore the frontiers of biophysics research, learn valuable scientific communication skills, and develop quantitative problem-solving skills. Students also have the freedom to choose from a wide range of upper-division courses in physics, biology and chemistry to complete their program of study, allowing them to shape the major to best fit their interests and aspirations.


Biophysics Research

Biophysics majors learn about the frontiers of biophysics research, and explore their own research questions. Biophysics faculty do research on a range of cutting-edge topics including cellular transport, biomaterials, DNA dynamics, force spectroscopy, microscopy, active matter, and cytoskeleton mechanics. Biophysics majors are encouraged to start conducting faculty-led research on these topics as early as their freshman year. Undergraduate researchers learn first-hand where the limits of humanity’s scientific understanding lie and how to push those limits outward. Student researchers learn experimental, computational and theoretical research techniques, and gain first-hand experience with advanced biophysics instrumentation including optical tweezers, light-sheet microscopy, laser-scanning confocal microscopy, ultracentrifugation, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Many of our majors have opportunities to travel and present their work at research conferences, publish scientific papers, and network with leading scientists in the field.


Life after Biophysics

The Biophysics major prepares students for a wide range of post-graduation paths. Because biophysics majors are rare at the undergraduate level (comprising less than 1% of all STEM bachelor’s degrees awarded each year!), they stand out and are sought out by a wide variety of graduate programs and companies. Many of our majors pursue medical, dental and veterinarian school - the biophysics major fulfills all of the pre-health requirements and allows students to score exceptionally well on the MCAT. Biophysics majors also pursue graduate degrees in biophysics, biochemistry, bioengineering and medical physics. Immediately after graduation, biophysics majors are highly successful in obtaining jobs in biotechnology, immunology, pharmaceuticals, data science, and biomedical engineering.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2016-2017, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on October 1, 2016. Access the catalog of record at http://catalogs.sandiego.edu.

Biophysics lies at the intersection of physics, biology and chemistry. Biophysicists apply the understanding, methods and quantitative skills gained in physics to a vast array of biological systems in order to gain new insights into biological problems ranging from brain function, and vascular networks, to DNA synthesis, and biomedical devices.The bachelor’s degree in biophysics is an interdisciplinary major designed to prepare students for a wide variety of career paths including graduate study in: biophysics, bioengineering, medical physics, biochemistry and chemistry. It is also superb preparation for any of the health professions (medical, dental, veterinary), or direct employment in the fields of biotechnology, bioengineering, and biomedical industries following USD.