As a field, molecular biophysics crosses the traditional boundaries between biology, chemistry, and physics. A central goal of the Molecular Biophysics Graduate Training Program is to establish the interdisciplinary courses, supergroup and seminar programs, and inter-departmental connections needed to train biophysical scholars. A Graduate Certificate program has been established to acknowledge completion of the recommended training program requirements. Biophysics students who elect to complete these requirements can obtain a Graduate Certificate in Molecular Biophysics to complement their Ph.D. degree. It should be noted that students who elect not to pursue all the requirements of the Certificate can still benefit from participation in selected aspects of the program.
Requirements of the Certificate Program
Students who are enrolled in a Ph.D. program affiliated with the Molecular Biophysics Training Program are eligible to participate in the Molecular Biophysics Graduate Certificate Program. For each student, the Ph.D. graduation requirements are defined by the Ph.D. home department, while the certificate program defines several additional requirements that are completed concurrently with the Ph.D. work. The requirements of the Certificate Program are designed so that they can be completed in a reasonable manner in parallel to the Ph.D. program by any highly motivated student of biophysics.
Most students will participate in laboratory rotations supervised by participating Biophysics faculty. These rotations provide valuable laboratory or computational experience, and allow a student to "test the waters" in potential thesis labs. Ideally, all students should participate in at least one ten-week rotation outside the thesis laboratory prior to completion of the certificate.
By the end of the first year, the student will join the laboratory of a training program faculty member and undertake a biophysical Ph.D. thesis project. This requirement ensures that the student will receive adequate biophysical training in the laboratory setting.
While carrying out Ph.D. thesis research and completing the graduation requirements of their Ph.D. program, the student will also complete the course requirements of the Certificate Program. These requirements include at least two courses from the approved course list. One of these courses generally will be BCHM 5491, Modern Biophysical Methods. This course provides training in the basic theory and application of selected biophysical techniques, including X-ray crystallography, NMR, electron microscopy, single molecule methods, optical microscopy, binding measurements, and research rigor and reproducibility. Also required is completion of a Responsible Conduct in Research course that meets NIH guidelines, such as BCHM 5776 or GRAD5000 to ensure exposure to key ethical issues relevant to all research scientists. Additional training in conducting rigorous and reproducible research is woven into all of the courses and activities developed by the Biophysics program.
Following admission to Ph.D. candidacy according to the rules of the home department, the student will begin to have annual meetings with their advisor and at least 2 other faculty members with expertise in the area of their thesis research. These meetings will ensure that the student receives advice from faculty including their advisor during the completion of the thesis project.
Finally, member students and faculty are required to participate in regular program functions that include a Biophysical seminar series and monthly supergroup meetings that provide a forum for students to present their research. Students are also encouraged to participate in regular career development activities that provide exposure to experts in an array of fields, including academia, industry, and medicine to receive advice regarding career training and planning. These activities also serve to build ties between students and other biophysical researchers on campus in the same or different departments.
Upon successful completion of the Ph.D. and Certificate Programs, the Certificate of Graduate Training in Molecular Biophysics will be awarded to the student at the time of graduation, or mailed to the student following graduation.