Biological Physics

What is Biophysics?

Biophysics applies approaches and methods of physics to study and model biological systems quantitatively. Exciting discoveries often come out of the sciences that at the interfaces between multiple fields. Physics and biology are two such fields. It takes an adventurous scientist to train in these two fields at the same time. The impact, when they are brought together, leads new and amazing understanding of the living world.

The Biophysics groups at UB develop new computational and experimental tools to investigate structure-function relationships in proteins, study the nanoscale details of the surface of cells effecting their function in health and disease, and use nanotechnology to manipulate signaling deep in the brain. Students learn to work with advanced optical and laser methods, build electronics, develop software and compute models.

The labs at UB utilize cutting edge technologies, such as super-resolution fluorescence-lifetime microscopy, optical trapping, magnetic nanoparticle heating and nanoscale temperature measurements, as well as THz-spectroscopy and single molecule spectroscopy. UB projects address questions of how enzymes function, protein switches operate, neuronal networks control behavior, anesthetics function, or fever is beneficial.

Biophysics News


The minimally invasive technique could lead to advances in mapping the brain and treating neurological disease.

We welcome Priya Banerjee from the Scripps Institute as new faculty in Biological Physics. He will join us in August. 

Who We Are

Priya Banerjee – Molecular Biophysics, Intrinsically Disordered Proteins
Andrea Markelz – Molecular Biophysics, THz-Spectroscopy
Arnd Pralle – New Optical Tools for Cellular Biophysics, Magnetothermal Stimulation for Neuroscience
Wenjun Zheng – Computational Biophysics

Current Biophysics Graduate Students, Postdocs and Research Staff

Weixiang Jin, Ishiaka Mansaray, Rahul Munshi, Michael Zucker, Dr. Idoia Castellanos-Rubio, Sara Parker (M.Sc.) (Pralle group)

Yanting Deng, Catherine Luck, Akansha Sharma, Mengyang Xu (Markelz group)

Nathaniel Fuller, Sushree Tripathy, Han Wen (Zheng group)

Biophysics Courses

 PHY533 - Introduction to Biophysics   this course discusses concepts, theoretical modeling, and experimental methods used in modern quantitative biophyiscs; book: "The Physical Biology of the Cell". This course will be offered again in Spring 2018. (email for further info)

Recent Biophysics Alumni

Where are the Biophysics alumni of the past ten years now ? 

Meet some recent alumni: Heng Huang (PhD) ,  Junghon Choi (BS)

CAMBI Fellowship

The CAMBI Fellowship promotes the pursuit of interdisciplinary biological physics graduate research, and retention of the best and brightest graduate students in physics. This fellowship is awarded based on a student’s demonstration of excellence in their first year of graduate study, and supplies $8,000 in addition to the recipient's annual stipend. Application in Spring semester.

How to Apply


Both domestic and international students are eligible for the award. All applicants must:

  1. Demonstrate excellent academic achievement through a minimum 3.5 GPA based on core physics courses.
  2. Demonstrate excellent research achievement through independent study work in biological physics under the supervision of one of the biological physics faculty.
  3. Have completed no more that 9 months of graduate study at the University at Buffalo.

To Apply:

Applicants must submit a one-page proposal on the biological physics research they intend to pursue at UB.

The annual deadline is April 15. Faculty in biological physics will choose the recipient on or before April 30. If chosen to receive this fellowship, the recipient must commit his/her efforts to summer research in biological physics in the Department of Physics.

For further information on this fellowship, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies.

Recent Winners of the CAMBI Fellowship

2017 - Isiaka Mansaray [Pralle], and Nathaniel Fuller [Zheng]
2014 - Yanting Deng, Menyang Xu [both Markelz], and Han Wen [Zheng]
2013 - Rahul Munshi, PhD cand [Pralle], expected grad 2018
2012 - Weixiang Jin, PhD cand [Pralle], expected grad 2017
2011 - Katherine Niessen, PhD [Markelz], currently Staff Scientist, Corning
2010 - Ben Keen, PhD [Markelz]
2009 - Muhammed Simsek, PhD [Pralle], now post-doc at Albert-Einstein U.
2008 - Huang Heng, PhD [Pralle], currently Scientist at Illumina Inc, San Diego
2007 - Yunfen He, PhD [Markelz], currently Operations Director at Shanghai OPM Biosciences