MolBioPhys

Graduate Program

Overview
Thesis Research
Curriculum
Courses
Journal Club
Seminars
Conferences
Qualification Examinations
Advancement to Candidacy
Graduate Committee

Overview: Graduate students in Chemistry, Physics, or the Life Sciences may petition for admission to the interdisciplinary program in Molecular Biophysics. Students participating in the Biophysics Program pursue a course of study and research that often overlaps the disciplinary boundaries of chemistry, biology, molecular biology and physics.  Graduate training opportunities are available for students with undergraduate background in any one of these areas.  Individualized programs of study are provided in order that each student obtains the necessary interdisciplinary background for advanced study and research in molecular biophysics.

Thesis Research: Students entering the program engage in dissertation research under the mentorship of one of the program faculty.  Joint mentorships are available for appropriate special cases.  In order to choose a research mentor, during the first year students participate in 2-3  “rotations” of 1-2 months duration in the laboratories of participating faculty.  A placement mutually acceptable to the student and proposed thesis mentor is typically achieved from this process; if not, further rotations may be pursued. During the rotation period, the responsibility is on the student to demonstrate ability and motivation in independent research sufficient to gain acceptance into a faculty research group.  Students are expected to have chosen a research mentor by the end of their first academic year of study and begin research full-time the following summer.

Curriculum: Students are expected to complete core courses of their home department unless grated a waiver by their committee and approved by the home department. Molecular Biophysics Program expectations are a) Molecular Biophysics or the equivalent, b) Structural Biology Laboratory or the equivalent c) regular participation in the Molecular Biophysics Journal Club, and  c) at least two credits of elective advance courses offered by the program faculty. In addition, students are expected to either have appropriate general background in Biology, Chemistry, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and Physics. If necessary, in consultation with their graduate committee, students may take additional courses which fill in any gaps. Read more on our courses here.  

Molecular Biophysics Journal Club is a weekly gathering of all students, research associates and faculty associated with the program for critical consideration and discussion of research described in the current literature. Here, in addition to exposure to advanced subject matter, students gain experience with research design, and presentation and discussion skills. Molecular Biophysics Journal Club is a centerpiece of the program and regular participation is required.

Seminars: Sudents of the program are expected to attend all relevant departmental seminars on a regular basis. A regular event on Wednesday evenings is the Biochemistry Seminar in which advanced students, faculty and invited visitors present their research. The MB&B and Biology Departments cosponsor a regular seminar series on Thursday afternoons. The Chemistry Department hosts a regular seminar on Fridays of each week. 

Conferences: Extramurally, We are affiliated with interest groups such as the New York Structural Biology (NYSB) and the New York Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (NYCBC) groups, both of which offer seminar programs and mini-conferences at various New England venues.  All students are encourage to join and attend national meetings of the Biophysical Society.

Qualification Examinations: Students are expected to stand for the qualification process particular to their home department. In MB&B, this consists of examinations in the major subdisciplinary areas of the department, including molecular biophysics. In Chemistry, this consists of monthly progress examinations, some contributed by program faculty, and  molecular biophysics students are expected to pass 20 elementary and 10 advanced to be considered for advancement to candidacy. 

Advancement to Candidacy: Upon successful completion of the qualification examinations, the preparation and defense of a research proposal, and satisfactory progress in dissertation research,  students advance to Ph.D. candidacy by the approval of  a petition to the home department.  Advancement to candidacy typically occurs after two years of graduate study in the program.

Graduate Student Committees: The graduate committee of a student in the Molecular Biophysics program will consist of representation from at least two participating departments. Students confer with their committee at least once per year to establish curricular objectives and to review research projects. Minutes of the proceedings of each thesis committee meeting serve as a record of student progress through the program.