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Going to Biophysics

March 4, 2011

Rheanna Sand

 

As I wait en route to my first international conference, I thought, why not share the reason I am traveling so far from home? I mean, you are probably wondering how I could rip myself away from the biting, dehydrating winter landscape of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, right? For Biophysics, that’s why.


Yes, just when you thought there weren’t any more possible combinations out there – biochemistry, chemical biology, physical chemistry –you can now add biophysics to the list. The good thing is that the term “biophysics” means exactly what it sounds like. It’s a bridge between biology and physics. Biophysicists, like me, look for mathematical patterns that underlie biological phenomena.

Math? Physics? Wait, nobody said biology would get this complicated! But guess what? Biology IS complicated…but luckily, not totally random. The way that amino acids line up and twist around to form a protein, for example, can be predicted by the various characters (water-loving or water-hating, acidic or basic, small or large, etc) that each amino acid has. To unravel these effects was essentially impossible until the modern computing era; now, we have a lot of room to run.

So, since it’s inception in 1957 – four years after the double helix structure of DNA was published – the Biophysical Society has been fostering research that delves into the smallest of the small: the forces that govern the molecules of life. Now, I have the privilege of attending my first Biophysics conference, presenting my poster, “Altering the length and character of S3-S4 loops changes equilibrium and kinetic properties of Kv1.2.” I know what you’re thinking…with that title, I should have brought bodyguards.

I tried, but Torah was too jet-lagged.

Wish me luck!

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