Friday, February 22, 2008

Teaching Biological Physics

The March 2005 issue of the magazine Physics Today contains an article by Goldstein, Nelson and Powers about "Teaching Biological Physics". Many of the ideas they champion apply to classes taught from the 4th Edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. Goldstein et al. write:

"Over the past few years, people trained in physics and working in physics departments have taken an unprecedented interest in biological problems. A host of new experimental and theoretical techniques has opened up the quantitative study of systems ranging from single molecules to networks of simple agents performing complex collective tasks. Many departments have begun aggressive programs to hire faculty into the emerging field of biological physics. Engineering departments, too, are investing in the interface of the life and physical sciences, both in bioengineering and in related areas such as chemical engineering, solid mechanics, and materials.

Not surprisingly, the new faculty members, like their colleagues, are interested in teaching subjects that excite them. Meanwhile, physical-science students are beginning to demand courses relevant to the life sciences. And high-level reports such as the National Research Council's Bio2010 have emerged to stress the importance of quantitative, physics-based thinking for future life scientists..."

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