Biophysical Methods

Instructor: l Brown

Course Website   |  Course Outline


Introduce the students to a wide variety of physical techniques used in modern biophysics research. These include X-ray and neutron scattering and diffraction, NMR and ESR spectroscopy, infrared and Raman spectroscopy, electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, absorption spectroscopy, light scattering, circular and linear dichroism, fluorescence, as well as other methods. The course is also an introduction to the molecular biophysics of cellular membranes. The structure and function of the major membrane components, lipids, protein and carbohydrates will be discussed. The determination of the molecular structure and function using physical techniques will be emphasized. Another objective of the course is to bring the students to a level of understanding of the field of biomembranes where they are comfortable reading the most recent research literature such as that reported in the Biophysical Journal. The students will be encouraged to explore the literature associated with biological membranes. The course also aims to improve the oral and written communication skills of the students. Each student will have the opportunity of reviewing an important research paper in the field and leading a discussion of this work. In addition, each student will give an oral presentation on some physical technique used in modern biophysical research and a final essay will be submitted on a technique of the student's choice. The topic should not be directly related to the student's own research work and not extensively covered in the lectures.


Problem Assignment (end of September/early October) 20% Research paper presentation/discussion (early October) 30% Essay on one of the methods with oral presentation (second half of November) 40% Participation in the discussions of research papers and essays 10%

Recommended Readings

The students will be provided with an electronic collection of important reviews on the techniques of interest (licensed to the University of Guelph). The students are also encouraged to read major biophysical and biochemical journals (links are provided on the course website).