Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Biological Physics Award

This award recognizes doctoral thesis research of outstanding quality and achievement in any area of experimental, computational, engineering, or theoretical biological physics and encourages effective written and oral presentation of research results. The Division of Biological Physics presents the award annually, consisting of $1,500, a certificate, up to $500 U.S. or $1,000 international travel reimbursement, and a registration waiver to receive the award and give an invited talk on the thesis work or an extension of that work at the APS March Meeting.

Rules and eligibility

Doctoral students at any university in the United States or abroad who have passed their thesis defense for the Ph.D. in any areas of experimental, computational, engineering, or theoretical Biological Physics, broadly construed, any time from April 1st two years before the year in which the award is to be presented until March 31st in the year before the award is to be presented, are eligible for the award, except for those whose thesis advisors serve on the current Selection Committee. For example, for the 2018 award (presented at the 2019 APS March Meeting), the Ph.D. defense must have been passed between April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. If a candidate is not selected, they may be renominated for this award provided all other eligiblity criteria are still met. In this case a new nomination package must be submitted.

The prize recognizes the fundamentally interdisciplinary nature of biological physics, the applicant, advisor and degree awarded need not be in Physics, but may also be in any appropriate related area, including, but not limited to, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Applied Physics or Biological Physics, Biophysics, Biology, Mathematics, Biochemistry, Chemistry or Chemical Engineering. In the event that the Committee judges no submitted theses to be of sufficient quality, the Committee may elect not to present the award.

Process and selection

  1. APS Prizes and Awards nomination form (nominee’s contact information, thesis date).
  2. A letter from the thesis advisor citing the specific contributions of the nominee and the significance of those contributions.
  3. A letter from the department chair and/or relevant program director certifying the date of the thesis defense.
  4. Two letters seconding the nomination.
  5. A statement prepared by the nominee describing the thesis research; the statement may not exceed 1,500 words (excluding figures and references).
  6. An abstract prepared by the nominee suitable for publication in the Bulletin of the American Physical Society; the abstract may not exceed 1,300 characters. The name of the thesis supervisor and the institution should be indicated in a footnote.
  7. A full curriculum vitae of the nominee including a publication list.

Nominations are limited to one per year, per nominator. Writers of seconding letters may only submit one seconding letter per year.

Selection Committee

  • Andrew Mugler (Chair)
  • Daniel Weissman (Vice Chair)
  • Noah Mitchell
  • Michelle Wang

Establishment and support

This award was established in 2009 by the Division of Biological Physics and is sponsored by members and friends of the Division of Biological Physics. Biological Physics is one of the most rapidly growing, exciting and interdisciplinary branches of contemporary physics. To encourage the healthy development of this field, the Division of Biological Physics has established an annual award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Biological Physics.

Recent recipients

Diederik Laman Trip

2023 recipient

For discovering how temperature constrains and drives cell replication and revealing that cells can cooperatively survive in extreme heat and cold, revising accepted views of temperature-dependent cell growth by integrating single-cell and genome-scale experiments with dynamical systems theory.

Jonathon Yuly

2022 recipient

For showing that a universal free energy landscape underpins near-reversible electron bifurcation reactions and assures their high efficiency for transducing energy without short-circuiting, thus addressing a central puzzle in molecular bioenergetics that had persisted for over 50 years.

Antonio Carlos Costa

2021 recipient

For innovative integration of statistical physics and dynamical systems theory to predict behavioral states and ensemble dynamics of living systems across multiple scales, an outstanding problem with broad applications in biological physics.

William Gilpin

2020 recipient

For the discovery and experimental characterization of a beautiful vortex tiling phenomenon created by swimming zooplankton, and the development of theoretical tools for the analysis of eco-evolutionary processes.

Tapomoy Bhattacharjee

2019 recipient

For pioneering new ways to bioprint, culture, and study cells in three-dimensions and outstanding work investigating jammed micro gels as biomaterials.

See all recipients

The membership of APS is diverse and global, and the nominees and recipients of APS Honors should reflect that diversity so that all are recognized for their impact on our community. Nominations of members belonging to groups traditionally underrepresented in physics, such as women, LGBT+ scientists, scientists who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), disabled scientists, scientists from institutions with limited resources, and scientists from outside the United States, are especially encouraged.

Nominees for and holders of APS Honors (prizes, awards, and fellowship) and official leadership positions are expected to meet standards of professional conduct and integrity as described in the APS Ethics Guidelines. Violations of these standards may disqualify people from consideration or lead to revocation of honors or removal from office.

Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Biological Physics Award

Nominations deadline
June 3, 2024
APS Division of Biological Physics (DBIO)

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