Biophysics ScB

(20 courses)

A defining characteristic of Biophysics is that it is a quantitative science that requires a significant level of competence in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology. These areas therefore form the required background coursework for this program, and serve as a springboard to an advanced focus, developed in consultation with a concentration advisor. Advanced foci may include structure-function relations of macromolecules, biomechanics of cell cytoskeleton, biotechnology for drug and gene delivery, molecular mechanisms of membrane transport, sensory signal transduction, for examples. The program also requires a capstone research project that reflects this focus and may be drawn from collaborative research opportunities offered by faculty in biology, chemistry, or physics departments.

Biophysics students must complete at least one semester (two are recommended) of Directed Research in biology (BIOL 1950/1960), chemistry (CHEM 0970/0980), or physics (PHYS 1990). Students should pursue independent study and honors work in the senior year as this offers the most meaningful capstone experience. Indeed, seniors are best positioned to draw on the depth of knowledge obtained during concentration study when working on the capstone. Students seeking Honors in Biophysics must complete a thesis project representing the culmination of substantial research activity spanning two or more semesters. Honors in the Biophysics program is handled via the Biology Honors process, with application and details described here.


Concentration advisors:  Edith Mathiowitz, Diana Horrigan



Physics (3)

- PHYS 0050 and PHYS 0060
- PHYS 0070 and PHYS 0160


-PHYS 0470

Chemistry (4)

- CHEM 0330

- CHEM 0350

- CHEM 0360

- Choose 1: CHEM 0400, 1140, PHYS 1530, 1610

Mathematics (2)

- MATH 0100 or equivalent

- MATH 0180 or equivalent

Biology (3)

- BIOL 0200

- Two additional biology courses chosen with approval of advisor (see attachment)

Directed Research (1-2)

- Students must take one semester (two recommended) which may be satisfied by any of the opportunities listed below:

- Directed Research in Biology (BIOL 1950/1960),  Chemistry Undergraduate Research (CHEM 0970/0980),  Physics Senior Conference Course (PHYS 1990), or Independent study course in a related discipline (i.e. STEM disciplines, ENVS, PHP, etc.) if the project is relevant to the student’s learning goals in the concentration

- A summer research experience equivalent in scope and scale to work the student would pursue in an independent study course. Examples include UTRAs, LINK awards, approved research programs at other institutions, etc. These experiences do not count as a course in total course requirement, but they can be used to satisfy the one semester of the research requirement. Advisors will work with students to review these experiences - drawing on a range of potential materials including a written summary of the experience, formal work plans, materials produced (i.e. presentations/papers), and in some cases a letter from the supporting advisor.

- The following COEX courses: BIOL 190R&S, 0285, 0440, 0600, 0940G, 1515, 1555; NEUR 1630, or CLPS 1195
New COEX courses will be considered as they are developed and offered at Brown, and as relevant to the concentration.

- Other equivalent opportunities not listed - with approval from the concentration advisor and Dean Smith 


Advanced Courses (6)

- Students must take six additional intermediate or advanced level courses, chosen from biology (e.g., biochemistry, genetics, physiology, physics, chemistry, and/or computer sciences and mathematics; see attachment)