The field of biophysics today comprises a wide variety of topics which do not have a single identifiable definition. The topics cover more than the mere application of physical principles to biological systems. Ultimately the field aims to understand life itself, which involves highly dynamic, organized and collective processes that survive and thrive in highly fluctuating environments. In a sense biophysics is the field of exploration taking place at the boundaries of physics and biology. Each discovery made in the field is a small step leading to this aim. Each institution focuses on a small part of the large field covering such areas as molecular genetics, neurosciences, nano-bio interfaces regulating biological functions, bio-robotics, dynamics and adaptive cell behavior, just to name a few.
SEM image of red blood cells on herniated tissue
An increasingly large number of groups in physical sciences have been getting into the action by developing innovative theoretical approches to understand complex dynamics systems and by developing quantitative experimental approaches to measure quantities that used to be determined qualitatively. Quantitative determination has had enourmous impacts on the biomedical field, such as immunohistochemical applications. However, many more fields still await quantitative determinations of such events as bacterial adhesion and receptor-ligand interactions.
MSU Physics offers an excellent environment for research and education in the field
of biophysics. The Department of Physics has several faculty members with interests
in biology, who collaborate with a number of other departments on campus including
Biochemistry, Microbiology, Biology, Center for Biofilm Engineering, and Land Resources
and Environmental Sciences. Interest in biophysics is growing rapidly in parallel
with the growth in the number of undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students
with multidisciplinary backgrounds involving physics and biology.
Currently the Department of Physics has three groups who have a strong interest in biophysics issues. These groups have access to a large number of facilities both in Physics and in the many traditional biology and bio-chemistry laboratories located on campus and to the expertise in these facilities.
In brief, the study of biophysics at MSU has been growing at an increasing rate, creating new opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at the interface between physics and biology. The research groups involved in biophysics are as follows:-
Dr. Recep Avci, Research Professor, Director ICAL
ICAL was established to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in research, education, and industry, and to strengthen existing cooperation between the physical, biological, and engineering sciences by providing critically needed analytical facilities.
At present there are seven complimentary microanalytical systems in the laboratory. ICAL researchers are currently participating in numerous exciting research areas which include; Nanoscale imaging, Microbial adhesion, Force spectroscopy, Nano elasticity, Bioprobe development, Surface functionalization, Laser activated atom migration.
For more details see: /physics/ical
Dr Yves Idzerda, Professor of Physics, Assoc. Dir. CBIN
The biophysics interests in Dr Idzerda's group is on the use of protein cages and virus for the encapsulated growth of magnetic nanoparticles for applications in electronics, data storage, imaging agents, and sensors. The work is focused on understanding and utilizing the emergent properties magnetic particles when their dimensionality is reduced to the nanoscale. His group uses soft and hard X-rays from the national synchrotron facilities to investigate these materials.
- The Dr Rebane Group
Dr Aleksander Rebane, Professor of Physics
The main biophysics focus of the Dr Rebane Group is Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). The PDT project is dicovering ways to cure cancer using laser light. Laser beams of 1 Watt 800nm wavelength 100-femtosecond pulses are used to target cancer cells, the beam being rastered over the surface of the cancer tumors.
The use of protein cages for the synthesis and characterization of nano materials
is a major new initiative here at Montana State University. An interdisciplinary
group has evolved at MSU, which includes faculty with expertise in chemistry, molecular
biology, and physics. In addition to individual PI funding, this group has been funded
through the NIRT program at NSF, the Office of Naval Research, the National Science
Foundation, and the Department of Energy.
For more information see: http://www.chemistry.montana.edu/nano/
Other MSU Programs With an Interest in Biophysics:
- Molecular Biosciences Programs
- Center for Biofilm Engineering
- Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Physics Faculty Participating in Biophysics Research Programs:
Laura Kellerman, B.S
EPS Room 339
Bozeman, MT 59717-3840