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What is Biophysics Really?

What is it used for?

Biophysics is a good mix of biology, chemistry, and physics for those who are not quite satisfied with only one of those subjects.  The major is quite similar to biochemistry, although more theoretical calculations and concepts will be involved...and, at Johns Hopkins at least, the major is most like an extention of what is learned in biology.  The folding and three dimensional structures of RNA and proteins are the main topic of interest, but the major itself is very broad and can cover more computer-based study as well.  Best of all, biophysics courses tend to be much smaller than biology courses, giving more of a chance for the professor to get to know you...unfortunately, a lot of biophysics courses will not have textbooks because they are so unusual to undergraduate schools.

Most biophysics majors seem to want to take their MCATs and go off and be doctors, and at Hopkins they have not had a pre-med biophysics student not get into medical school in several years.  Graduate work is also a possibility, and these students can be professors or lab technicians, or they can work for drug companies.  Graduate work does not necessarily need to be in biophysics, as the major prepares you to go for a graduate degree in biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, physiology, and many other subjects as well. 

What does the major actually entail work-wise?

You need to take most of the same courses that biology majors take, but more chemistry and physics courses on top of that.  Inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry are preferred...and at least two years of physics at the college level may be necessary. 

Calculus through multivariable calculus is helpful, and some programming experience may also help you down the line. 

What kind of jobs do you get with it?

Doctors, professors, lab workers...

What are the fellow students like (personalitywise) in it?

The other students in my major are *very* competitive, as many of them want to go to medical school in the near future.  Although there is always enough time for extracurricular activities and just hanging out when you feel like it, the work is often hard and students will talk about classes/assignments/tests an unproportional amount.  The major is like biology for students who like more pain (or physics for students who like less pain?).

Common Misconceptions

Misconceptions are that nobody is interested in protein folding (the core of the major) and that people only take on this major to get into medical school.  Some students are genuinely interested in the material and will go on to study it in the future.

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