Physical Biology

Rice University has over twenty Physical Biology Research Groups and is home to the NSF Center for Theoretical Biological Physics. These groups are working to describe and anticipate the properties and behaviors of biological molecules and systems by integrating biology with chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science. Faculty research in this area develop theoretical physical models that describe biological phenomenon, apply biophysical methods to elucidate molecular structures and dynamics of biomolecules, such as X-ray Free Electron Lasers, and apply a range of physical methods to study the mechanical, electrical, signaling, and transport properties of cells and communities.


Molecular Biophysics

  • electron transfer
  • enzymatic mechanisms
  • protein and nucleic acid folding
  • protein dynamics
  • structural biology


Macromolecular complexes

  • molecular motors
  • protein-DNA interactions
  • micromechanical biological machines
  • nanobiomaterials
  • soft matter

bio cells

Physical Biology of Cells

  • biological-pattern formation
  • cytoskeleton structure and dynamics
  • motility and transport processes
  • signaling dynamics
  • stochastic gene expression


Physical Methodologies

  • computational biology
  • microfluidics and imaging
  • nonequilibrium statistical mechanics
  • single molecule spectroscopy
  • x-ray crystallography