Biophysics has been critical to understanding the mechanics of how the molecules of life are made, how different parts of a cell move and function, and how complex systems in our bodies—the brain, circulation, immune system, and others— work. Biophysics is a vibrant scientific field where scientists from many fields including math, chemistry, physics, engineering, pharmacology, and materials sciences, use their skills to explore and develop new tools for understanding how biology—all life—works.
Physical scientists use mathematics to explain what happens in nature. Life scientists want to understand how biological systems work. These systems include molecules, cells, organisms, and ecosystems that are very complex. Biological research in the 21st century involves experiments that produce huge amounts of data. How can biologists even begin to understand this data or predict how these systems might work?
This is where biophysicists come in. Biophysicists are uniquely trained in the quantitative sciences of physics, math, and chemistry and they are able tackle a wide array of topics, ranging from how nerve cells communicate, to how plant cells capture light and transform it into energy, to how changes in the DNA of healthy cells can trigger their transformation into cancer cells, to so many other biological problems.