The Biological Physics Group
Biological physics seeks to explain living systems through quantitative measurements, descriptions, and physical models. Researchers in biological physics function as generalists who confront open issues in living systems that require a synergy of skills in chemistry, engineering, mathematics, 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 nonlinear dynamics, informatics, and statistical mechanics.
Theoretical approaches to single-molecule biophysics; virus-cell fusion
Dynamics and evolution of genetic and metabolic networks
Growth, evolution and chromosome dynamics in the cell cycle
Anatomy and dynamics of active sensation; neurovascular networks
Single-molecule studies of biomolecular interactions
Structure and dynamics of model membrane systems
Cardiac dynamics; cell signaling and multicellular pattern formation
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
- Empirical growth rules for bacteria
- Chromosome and plasmid segregation in bacteria
- Chemotaxis and cell-to-cell communication
- Competition and collaboration in microbial ecology
- Spatiotemporal patterning in developing animals
- Parameter estimation for neurons and networks
- Micro- and macroscopic aspects of tissue rheology
- Coordinated sensorimotor activity in brain circuits
- Blood flow and brain neurovascular networks
- Cardiac ion channels and tissue dynamics
- Evolution, reproduction, regeneration, and aging in microbes and simple animals
Upper division and graduate courses provide an introduction to fundamental and cutting edge issues in biological physics. These include:
Dynamical Systems and Neurodynamics (to be announced)
Biophysics of Development and Pattern Formation (to be announced)
Theoretical studies in Biological Physics are supported, in part, through the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics that is funded by the National Science Foundation and encompasses faculty at Rice University, The Salk Institute, and UC San Diego. Scholarships are available.
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.