Friday, June 13, 2014

Physics Research & Education: The Complex Intersection of Biology and Physics

This morning, I am heading home after a productive week at a Gordon Research Conference about Physics Research and Education: The Complex Intersection of Biology and Physics. I wish I could tell you more about it, but Gordon Conferences have this policy…
“To encourage open communication, each member of a Conference agrees that any information presented at a Gordon Research Conference, whether in a formal talk, poster session, or discussion, is a private communication from the individual making the contribution and is presented with the restriction that such information is not for public use….” 
So, there is little I can say, other than to point you to the meeting schedule published on the GRC website. I suspect that future blog entries will be influenced by what I learned this week, but I will only write about items that have also been published elsewhere.

 I can say a bit about Gordon Conferences in general. The GRC website states
“The Gordon Research Conferences were initiated by Dr. Neil E. Gordon, of the Johns Hopkins University, who recognized in the late 1920s the difficulty in establishing good, direct communication between scientists, whether working in the same subject area or in interdisciplinary research. The Gordon Research Conferences promote discussions and the free exchange of ideas at the research frontiers of the biological, chemical and physical sciences. Scientists with common professional interests come together for a full week of intense discussion and examination of the most advanced aspects of their field. These Conferences provide a valuable means of disseminating information and ideas in a way that cannot be achieved through the usual channels of communication - publications and presentations at large scientific meetings.”
Before this, the only Gordon Conference I ever attended was one at which I was the trailing spouse. My wife studied the interaction of lasers with tissue in graduate school, and she attended a Gordon Conference on that topic in the 1980s; I tagged along. I don’t remember that conference being as intense as this one, but maybe that’s because I’m getting older.

The conference was at Mount Holyoke College, a small liberal arts college in South Hadley, Massachusetts, about 90 minutes west of Boston. It is a lovely venue, and we were treated well. I hadn’t lived in a dormitory since college, but I managed to get used to it.

For those of you interested in education at the intersection of physics and biology--a topic of interest for readers of the 4th edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology--I suggest you take a look at the recent special issue of the American Journal of Physics about Research and Education at the Crossroads of Biology and Physics, discussed in this blog before. In addition, see the website set up based on the Conference on Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences, held March 14-16, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia. I’ve also discussed the movement to improve introductory physics classes for students in the life sciences previously in this blog here, here, here, and here.

Now, I need to run so I can catch my plane….

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy! Look forward to hearing about it.
    Happy Father's Day!