Biological physics seeks to explain living systems through quantitative measurements, descriptions, and physical models. Researchers in biological physics are generalists who confront open issues in living systems that require a synergy of skills in chemistry, engineering, mathematics, molecular biology, and statistics, as well as physics.


We provide exciting research opportunities in this rapidly advancing discipline. Consistent with broad yet fundamental training, we use a combination of experimental, theoretical, and computational techniques to solve a scientific problem and, when necessary, develop novel approaches. Our experimental tools include quantitative behavior, electrophysiology, functional imaging, microfluidics, molecular biology, nonlinear microscopy, and optical trapping. Our theoretical tools include graph theory, information theory, machine learning, nonlinear dynamics, and statistical mechanics.

Research Topics

Our research addresses the reproduction, evolution, and intelligence of living matter. Some current topics are:

  • Forces and dynamics of viral DNA packaging
  • Viral-cell fusion
  • Coarse-grained description of bacterial physiology
  • Chromosome and plasmid segregation in bacteria
  • Infotaxis, chemotaxis, and cell-to-cell communication
  • Competition and collaboration in microbial ecology
  • Spatiotemporal patterning in developing animals
  • Parameter estimation for neurons and networks
  • Biomechanics and microscopic tissue rheology
  • Functional and genetic dissection of brainstem circuits
  • Blood flow and brain neurovascular networks
  • Cardiac ion channels and tissue dynamics
  • Aging and evolution in microbes and simple animals


Upper division and graduate courses provide an introduction to fundamental and cutting edge issues in biological physics. These include:

Faculty in Biological Physics play a central role in the multi-disciplinary Ph.D. specialization programs in Computational Neuroscience and Quantitative Biology.

We are pleased to support undergraduate thesis projects in all areas of Biological Physics, in addition to research carried out by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.