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Top Biophysics Schools

by Douglas Matus, studioD

Biophysics, usually taught in conjunction with biochemistry and structural biology, combines the principles behind various scientific disciplines into research-focused study. Biophysicists investigate all levels of life, bridge the gap between physics and biology and work to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as global warming and overpopulation. The best schools for biophysics, chosen by “U.S. News and World Report” in 2010, offer unparalleled instruction in this important field.

Harvard University

In 2010, “U.S. News” chose Harvard as its top school for biophysics. Founded in 1959, Harvard’s biophysics program is contained within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Students in this program benefit from the expertise of over 60 faculty members employed in a broad range of academic areas, including engineering sciences and various teaching hospitals. With approximately 60 students enrolled in the program at any given time, Harvard offers biophysics students a truly exceptional student-to-faculty ratio. Such a rich amount of support allows for advanced development in Harvard’s biophysics research specialties, which include structural molecular biology, molecular genetics, cell and membrane biophysics, physical biochemistry and neuroscience.

Stanford University

The 2010 “U.S. News” rankings of biophysics programs awarded the No. 2 spot to Stanford University. Contained within the Stanford School of Medicine, the Stanford Biophysics Program promotes interdisciplinary cooperation for the advancement of biophysics studies. Students at Stanford not only work with existing physical and chemical methods, but also collaborate with faculty from 16 academic departments in the creation of new biophysics research methods. Students in this program have access to world-class research facilities, including the Stanford Magnetic Resonance Laboratory, the Lucas Center for MRI Imaging and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

As the 2010 “U.S. News” third-ranked biophysics school, MIT unites students with faculty from a range of academic disciplines, including biological engineering, computer science and chemical engineering. Biophysics students at MIT benefit from participation in the yearly MIT Biophysics Retreat. In addition to featuring esteemed keynote speakers, this retreat gives students the opportunity to present their own research to MIT faculty and visiting participants. The biophysics program at MIT features a high degree of flexibility and freedom, as it allows for enrollment from any MIT department and centers on a biweekly lecture series.

Yale University

Yale’s Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry achieved the fourth highest ranking among biophysics programs in the 2010 “U.S. News” study. Students at Yale benefit from the presence of Thomas Steitz, the Sterling Professor of Biophysics and recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. In addition to graduate studies, the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry offers a unique curriculum that prepares undergraduates for medical school or advanced work in biophysics. Both levels of biophysics instruction are conducted in collaboration with the Yale School of Medicine, one of the top medical research departments in the country.

About the Author

Douglas Matus is the travel writer for "West Fort Worth Lifestyle" magazine, and spent four years as the Director of Humanities for a college-prep school in Austin. Since 2005, he has published articles on education, travel and culture in such publications as "Nexus," "People's World" and "USA Today." Matus received an Education Pioneers fellowship in 2010 and an MFA from CalArts in 2011.

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