Biophysics Simulation Group

What do we do?

How do bacteria build proteins, use grappling hooks to move around, or inject each other with poison darts? We are interested in life and disease processes at the molecular level. We use physics principles to understand the fundamentals of biology.

In the Biophysics Simulation Group (BSG), we are currently focusing on two projects. 1) Understanding the motion of an "injection motor" in legionella bacteria. How does the motor assemble the proteins that make you sick and inject them into your cells? 2) We are working on algorithms to automatically analyze three-dimensional images of bacteria and identify new protein assemblies. 

In our group, we perform "virtual" experiments---simulations on the computer. Students can be involved in a variety of ways. Most students will co-author a paper, most will get to travel to a large conference and present their research, some will travel internationally.

What do you have to know?

Students must be be motivated to learn and must dependably balance research time with classes, family responsibilities, etc. Funding is available for all students willing to commit to working at least 10 hours/week on average.

Successful students don't usually have prior knowledge in biophysics, strong computational skills, or programming experience. Such experience is nice, but exerting the effort to learn makes all the difference.

Getting Started

Basic skills you'll pick up on the way:

  • Basic knowledge of cellular biology, molecular dynamics, entropy, and statistical mechanics
  • Computational physics and numerical linear algebra
  • Programming (some of: julia, python, C++, Fortran)
  • Using the command line and scripting
  • Using BYU's supercomputer 
  • Using a text editor (emacs, vi, etc.) and/or an "IDE"---integrated development environment (vscode, sublime, etc.) 

If you want to see if you would enjoy working in our group,

  • Work through the "getting started" tutorial
  • Work through a unix tutorial (on a mac, this is easy, since OSX is unix-based). If you have a windows machine, you can install cygwin or something similar.
  • Try learning a little julia
  • Come to a group meeting and talk to students in the group (currently meeting at 10 am on Fridays in N149)