Readers will acquire several research skills that are often not addressed in traditional courses:
- Basic modeling skills, including dimensional analysis, identification of variables, and ODE formulation.
- Probabilistic modeling skills, including stochastic simulation.
- Data analysis methods, including maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods.
- Computer programming using a general-purpose platform like MATLAB or Python, with short codes written from scratch.
- Dynamical systems, particularly feedback control, with phase portrait methods.
All of these basic skills, which are relevant to nearly any field of science or engineering, are presented in the context of case studies from living systems, including:
- Virus dynamics
- Bacterial genetics and evolution of drug resistance
- Statistical inference
- Superresolution microscopy
- Synthetic biology
- Naturally evolved cellular circuits, including homeostasis, genetic switches, and the mitotic clock.
Who takes this class?
At my institution, the students are undergraduates who have taken one year of university physics. No background in computer programming, and no Biology or Chemistry prerequisite courses are assumed. However, each chapter has a “Track 2” appendix with more advanced material; with these sections and some assigned primary research articles, the book can also serve a graduate-level course.
Although the book is not about medicine per se, many students who take the course at Penn are premedical, in part because the course addresses many of the competencies that form the basis of the new MCAT2015 (see the Instructor’s Preface and the 2015 MCAT guide).
The book has almost no overlap with my previous Biological Physics, nor with my later book From Photon to Neuron. The first of those books focused on molecular mechanics, fluid mechanics, molecular machines, and neural signaling. The second focuses on the physics of light, imaging, and vision. PMLS is focused more on systems, and on generally applicable skills.
Please refer to the Instructor Resources Page.
Please refer to the Student Resources Page.
Samples and Ordering Information
ISBN information for Physical Models of Living Systems: ISBN-13: 978-1464140297 ISBN-10: 1464140294
If you’d like sample materials, please contact Lori Stover at MacMillan publishing.
Preliminary versions of the text have already been used in courses taught at Earlham College, Emory University, Harvard University, MIT, University of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Massachusetts, and University of Michigan.