With its integrated approach, Biological Physics can be used as the basis for interdisciplinary courses in biophysics, bioengineering, or nanotechnology. Throughout, the goal is for students to gain the fluency they need to derive every result for themselves. To that end, the text includes exercises at all levels of complexity, including many that guide students through computer-based solutions.
Readers will acquire several research skills that are often not addressed in traditional courses:
- Basic modeling skills, including dimensional analysis and maximum-likelihood estimation.
- Computer programming using a general-purpose platform like MATLAB or Python, with short codes written from scratch.
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:
- diffusion and random walks
- fluid mechanics, especially low Reynolds number
- molecular mechanics, especially at the single molecule level
- statistical physics in a form suitable for single-molecule experiments
- coooperativity and self-assembly
- molecular machines
- electrophsiology and neural signaling
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 MCAT (see the MCAT guide).
The book has almost no overlap with my other books From Photon to Neuron and Physical Models of Living Systems. Photon to Neuron focused on light in biology, including optical instruments as well as animal vision. Physical Models of Living Systems focused on intracellular control systems, and on general background skills.
The graphics will be freely available in a form suitable for classroom use. Additional Instructor Resources, including solutions to the problems and ideas for classroom demonstrations, will be available from the author.