Students who are interested in learning more about biophysics should visit the Biophysical Society’s Web site, https://www.biophysics.org, which offers career information, profiles of workers in the field, a discussion of current research topics, and other resources. You can also visit the Web sites of college biophysics programs to learn about typical classes and degree requirements. Other ways to learn more about the field include reading books about biophysics, participating in information interviews with biophysicists, and joining science clubs.
The work of biophysicists varies according to their industry, though most falls within the following categories: molecular structures—studying the functions of cells, tissues, and organisms and their structural makeup and behavior; biophysical techniques—researching various methods for gaining information about biological systems, such as lasers, heat, or other analytical methods; or biophysical mechanisms—researching and developing detailed models to help visualize and explain biological processes.
Biophysicists can find employment in many different environments including privately or government-funded laboratories, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, colleges and universities, and medical centers. Pharmaceutical companies, such as Gilead or Abbott Laboratories, may hire biophysicists as part of a team to conduct research and models on how different strains of bacteria affect healthy cells in animals. Such work is necessary and vital to help design and produce antibacterial vaccines and drugs effective in combating human illnesses ranging from uterine tract infections to influenza. Other biophysicists in governmental laboratories and agencies, for example the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, may conduct research, collect data, and make observations regarding the molecular basis of diseases as compared to healthy cells. Such experiments give us more information on how to diagnose and treat diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, or autism.
Biophysicists use different tools and methods to conduct their research, including computers for data collection and analysis, highly specialized x-rays, centrifuges, and electromagnetic radiation.