APS News

APS Sponsors Second Conference on Opportunities for Physicists in Biology

The APS plans to hold a second topical conference on "Opportunities in Biology for Physicists" in San Diego, CA, from January 30 to February 1, 2004.

The conference will be aimed predominantly at graduate students and postdocs in physics who are considering applying the methods of physics to biological topics. However, all those who are interested in entering the broad interdisciplinary area will be welcome if space is available. The conference is not aimed at those who already work in the field of biological physics or biophysics, and will not be a place where scientists come to present their own new research.

In 2001, the APS Executive Board decided that it would be advantageous to organize a different kind of meeting, a topical conference on an emerging field, that would prepare physicists for future opportunities.

As a result of this decision, a conference was organized focusing on the interface between physics and biology and aimed at early career physicists who were interested in exploring the possibilities of entering this exciting field.

That first conference was held in Boston September 27-29, 2002 (see APS News, November 2002), and was very well received. A follow-up survey revealed a great deal of interest in a second workshop. Robert Austin, Princeton, and Herb Levine, UCSD, co-chair the Steering Committee for the second conference which consists of outstanding researchers who work in the interface area between physics and biology.

"Rapid strides are occurring in biology, where enormous technical and conceptual progress has been made in the last 10 years," says Austin about the decision to hold a second workshop. "Biology is changing from a descriptive to a quantitative and conceptually profound field. We believe that physics will make a substantial contribution to this revolution, particularly if biologists and physicists work together at this critical time."

Physicists and biologists who are leaders in their fields will be asked to give broad overviews of selected areas at the interface between physics and biology.

On the afternoon of the first day, there will be a reception, at which time there will be an opportunity for those who fund researchers in biological physics and those who hire biological physicists to meet with the participants and to display posters or provide information in other forms.

There will be a "Lunch with the Experts," available to all the student participants free of charge. Attendance will be limited to about 250 participants. "Keeping the conference small will allow the participants to interact more easily with the speakers, all of whom will be major leaders in their fields," said Franz.

A detailed schedule of talks and events will be posted as soon as it becomes available.