ABOUT THE COMPUTATIONAL AND MOLECULAR BIOPHYSICS PROGRAM
The Program in Molecular Biophysics, established in 1990, seeks to train students who understand biological processes and who can take advantage of the sophisticated physical techniques necessary to probe those processes at a detailed molecular level. An important feature of the Program in Computational and Molecular Biophysics is its emphasis on multidisciplinary, interactive approaches to the study of biological systems. Communication and collaboration among investigators with diverse interests is fundamental to defining the interesting questions and developing the systems which make biophysics a unique synthesis of disciplines. At Washington University, the Program brings together scientists who share the biophysicist’s goal of understanding biological processes, yet who work on systems which range from single molecules to whole cells. The program was renamed to “Computational and Molecular Biophysics” in 2009 to better indicate the importance of both computational and experimental methods in investigating problems in molecular biophysics.
The program guidelines are available online and contain information about all aspects of the graduate training process and progress towards a Ph.D., including timelines for typical Ph.D. and MSTP students.
The multidisciplinary nature of biophysics attracts students with diverse backgrounds. To develop an appropriate curriculum, each student meets with his/her program director to select courses and discuss laboratory rotations. These meetings continue every semester until the thesis is proposed. Computational and Molecular Biophysics students are expected to take four to six courses in the first year. These courses may be from within the Molecular Biophysics Program, as well as other Programs or departments. The following courses are required:
Chemistry and Physics of Biological Molecules (Bio 5357)
Macromolecular Interactions (Bio 5312)
Molecular Biophysics Student Seminar (Bio 5314)
Ethics and Research Science (Bio 5071)
Journal clubs and special topics courses (5 credits)
Two advanced electives
During the course of graduate studies, students in the Program take five credits of special topics courses, tutorials, or journal clubs. Two of these credits will be earned in the Graduate Student Seminar. The purposes of this requirement are (i) to provide close student-faculty interactions in a format that is less didactic than standard lecture courses; (ii) to allow students to study current research topics in great depth; and (iii) to provide students with a mechanism to learn the skills of public speaking and seminar presentation. Thus, a large component of these courses includes coaching in oral presentation.
Participation in journal club is strongly encouraged throughout all years of graduate training. Normally a student will receive one credit in a journal club for regular participation and a presentation. A journal club must either be in the University Course Listings or on an approved list maintained by the Steering Committee. Special topics 5 courses are organized by one or several faculty on a specific research topic. Students are encouraged to approach faculty with proposals for special topics courses.
The steering committee helps direct the program and advise students. The current members are: