From Proton to Neuron book cover

From Photon to Neuron: Light, Imaging, Vision

(Princeton Univ. Press, 2017). This will be available in Spring 2017.


Student's Guide to Python for Physical Modeling

(with Jesse Kinder) (Princeton Univ. Press, 2015). The paperback edition is available from Princeton. E-book editions are available too.
The book has an associated blog.

"An excellent stepping stone into the world of using Python in computational science.... After working through the chapters and their accompanying exercises, readers can expect not only to know how to write and read Python but also to achieve a thorough understanding for developing complex physical models and calculations." -- Kevin Thielen and Vivienne Tien in "Computing in Science & Engineering" May/June 2016


Physical models of living systems

(WH Freeman and Co, 2015), now available as an e-book via CourseSmart. If you are looking for a hard copy, you may find a good deal from an Amazon affiliate, or here.

"Particularly compelling for its smooth integration of biological experiments, physical models, and computational exercises. Readers who complete the text will be well equipped with the computational and mathematical skills needed for a quantitative understanding of a range of biological systems.... Thanks to Nelson's skillful writing and the excellent accompanying online resources, this book will appeal to a broad audience and teach even a beginner how to solve problems numerically." -- Eva-Maria Collins in Physics Today

""Philip Nelson has done a terrific job.... There are numerous traits that make this text unique among the very many books of biological physics.... The presentation of materials is developed in an innovative fashion.... There is a nice balance between conceptual examples and end-of-the-chapter problems.... This book shows a nice intercalation of fundamental laws, brief descriptions of computational strategies for acquiring quantitative information, as well as their implications in biological physics and areas beyond that, including signaling processes, genetic switches, and cellular oscillators.... Physical Models of Living Systems... will benefit undergraduates as well as others with clear interests in genomics, proteomics, cellular signaling, bioengineering, regenerative medicine, and synthetic biology." -- Liviu Movileanu in American Journal of Physics 84 (6), June 2016

Student's Guide to MATLAB for Physical Modeling

(With Tom Dodson; free).


Biological Physics: Energy, Information, Life: With new art by David Goodsell

(WH Freeman and Co, 2014); now available via as an e-book from Amazon and from CourseSmart.

"This book inspired me to write [my] book in the first place. Biological Physics is the most interesting and well-written textbook I have ever read." -- Peter M. Hoffman, Life's Ratchet
This 5th printing differs from the 4th by the updating of many of the beautiful drawings by David Goodsell. It also differs from the 3d and earlier printings by the addition of many new homework problems.

Phil Nelson

Physics and Astronomy University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA phone: (215) 898-7001 fax: (215) 898-2010


Sorry, but I get a lot of e-mail. If you are a student currently enrolled in a class that I teach, or a Biophysics major advisee, put that in the subject line. I want to reply, but if I don't --- please come see me. If you wish me to review a grant proposal, article for publication, or promotion case, please don't assume that your e-mail has been read or even seen. It may be necessary to get me on the phone if you need me to do those things.

Quote of the moment:

Consider, when seeking gestalts,
The theories that science exalts.
It's not that they're known
To be written in stone.
It's just that we can't say they're false.
  -- David Morin

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