It is an exciting time to be thinking about the workings of the living world. A quantitative revolution is reshaping the way investigators approach biological questions. Techniques like next generation sequencing, RNA-seq, single-molecule and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, and force spectroscopy are opening an unprecedented window into the inner workings of enzymes, cells and organisms. These techniques are generating orders of magnitude more data that is increasingly quantitative. The main intellectual thread of the course will be the idea that this new generation of quantitative observations, which are becoming routine in biology, calls for a corresponding quantitative modeling framework. This biophysics course will be dedicated to building quantitative models to meet the challenges posed by contemporary quantitative biology.
Light microscopy plays a central role in cell biology and new microscopy techniques continue to offer cutting-edge insights into biological systems. This course will teach both the practical as well as the theoretical underpinnings of light microscopy. Topics will include the physics of light, physiology of the eye, the physics of CCDs and PMTs, bright field, phase contrast, dark field, polarizing, DIC, optical trapping, fluorescence, TIRF, FRET, confocal, and super-resolution microscopy. Quantitative imaging and image processing will also be discussed. A lab, consisting of a practical course on how to build a microscope will also be offered to a limited number of students. Lab participants will break into small groups to build a specialized microscope to investigate a specific biological question using microscopy