Biophysics: New Major on the Hilltop

Beginning in Fall 2016 Dedman College students now have the opportunity to major in Biophysics, which opens new avenues for study, research, and exploration to students interested in STEM fields. We spoke with Dr. Jodi Cooley, Associate Professor of Experimental Particle Physics and Director of Undergraduate Studies, about what students can expect and what makes a Biophysics major unique.

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Why Biophysics? What differentiates a Biophysics major from a Physics or Biology major?

Biophysics is the study of life in all its complexity. The field of biophysics sciences explores a large range of complex scientific issues from how cells work to the mechanics of the motion of organisms. Understanding these issues requires knowledge of physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics. Thus, biophysics is an interdisciplinary major that incorporates classes from the physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics departments.

What are the course requirements for Biophysics?

This is a very intense degree program meant to challenge top students. Biophysics requires 89 technical credits. The required courses include all of the courses in the pre-health sequence at SMU and additional courses in physics, chemistry, and math.

What are the advantages of majoring in Biophysics?

The biophysical science program at SMU is a rigorous degree program that provides a strong foundation for students who want careers in medicine or research. 

What research projects are available for Biophysics students to assist in?

At SMU, students can do research exploring protein evolution in order to improve our knowledge of how to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria and “superbugs” or develop simulations to study protein allosteric mechanisms which are considered the “second secret of life” (the genetic code is considered the first).

What career opportunities do you anticipate for Biophysics majors?

I expect that most students who graduate from our program will go on to complete clinical or M.D.-Ph.D. medical programs or complete graduate studies in the fields of biophysics or medical physics.