2016-2017 Pitzer Catalog 
    Jun 20, 2018  
2016-2017 Pitzer Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biophysics Major

The biophysics major integrates the physical principles that are part of the core material found in a traditional physics major with areas of interest in the life sciences. Offering many possible avenues via molecular/cellular, biomechanical, organismal and/or physiological sequences, the major is appropriate for students interested in attending graduate school in physics or biophysics and provides a solid background for students planning a career in the health fields.

Requirements for the Major

Learning Outcomes for the Program In Biophysics

Students who have completed a major in Biophysics, when confronted with a natural phenomenon, should be able to examine, model and analyze the system and effectively communicate the findings.

Specifically, students should be able to:

  1. Develop a conceptual framework for understanding the system by identifying the key physical principles, relationships, and constraints underlying the system.
  2. If required, develop a physical experiment to analyze the system within the framework. This includes:
    • Designing the experiment;
    • Making basic order-of-magnitude estimates;
    • Working with standard data-measuring devices such as oscilloscopes, digital multi-meters, signal generators, etc.;
    • Identifying and appropriately addressing the sources of systematic error and statistical error in their experiment.
  3. Translate that conceptual framework into an appropriate mathematical format/model.
    • If the mathematical model/equations are analytically tractable, carry out the analysis of the problem to completion (by demonstrating knowledge of and proficiency with the standard mathematical tools of physics and engineering).
    • If the model/equations are not tractable, develop a computer code and/or use software/programming languages (e.g., MATLAB, Maple, Python) to numerically simulate the model system.
  4. Use with proficiency standard methods of data analysis (e.g., graphing, curvefitting, statistical analysis, Fourier analysis, etc.).
  5. Intelligently analyze, interpret, and assess the reasonableness of the answers obtained and/or the model’s predictions.
  6. Effectively communicate their findings (either verbally and/or via written expression) to diverse audiences.

Courses required for the Biophysics major:

1. Foundation Courses:

2. Five Additional Advanced Courses:

  • Three (3) upper-division courses from Biology, at least one of which must include a laboratory component. Organic Chemistry (CHEM 116L KS ) may be substituted for one of the three upper-division Biology courses, but one of the remaining two upper-division Biology courses must still include a laboratory component.
  • At least two of the following four courses: PHYS 101 KS  , PHYS 102 KS  , PHYS 114 KS  , PHYS 115 KS  .

3. Senior thesis (one- or two-semester).

  • A study-abroad experience is strongly recommended but not required.

NOTE: For Biophysics majors, PHYS 030L KS -PHYS 031L KS  may substitute as a prerequisite for PHYS 033L KS -PHYS 034L KS .