Courtesy of David S. Goodsell

Physical Biology of the Cell


It is a wonderful time to be thinking about the workings of the living world. Historic advances ranging from the use of satellites and drones to track animals to the use of biophysical techniques such as optical traps to measure the forces applied by molecular motors have provided an unprecedented window on the living. The aim of this course is to take a broad view of the use of quantitative thinking to query the nature of the living with emphasis on a panoply of problems such as the herding of wildebeest, how to think about transcriptomes and how living organisms perform tasks that seem to contradict the increase of entropy.  We will study these problems using whatever tools we need in order to make quantitative and predictive statements about  life. The main intellectual thread of the course will be the idea that the type of quantitative data which is becoming routine in biology calls for a corresponding quantitative modeling framework. The plan of this course is to elucidate general principles with exciting case studies and to include abundant opportunities to turn our models into computer code using Python that will help us develop our intuition.


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