PH475 Intro Biophysics I (Fall, 2020)

Lecture Format: Asynchronous online video

All lectures are prerecorded video streamed from the course web site
Students are required to watch all video lectures by the specified dates.

Discussions and Q&A session: Tue. & Thu. 9:30am -- 10:45 am

Students are required to attend online discussion and question session held during the regular class hours. Topics of the discussion are listed in the course schedule. The discussion will be recorded and the videos are available if you should have missed the sessions.. However, excessive absence in the discussion hour may result in a low course grade.

Course Description:

Through this course students will learn how the laws of physics play important roles in biological processes in living cells through examples.

Required Textbook

Physical Biology of the Cell
by R. Phillips et al.
Garland Science, 2012
ISBN: 978-0815344506


Course Schedule and Lecture Notes
Textbook Companion Website
Cell Biology by the Numbers

Learning Objectives:

Biophysical processes involved in the following biological processes

  • Diffusion of macromolecules
  • Motor proteins and Brownian motors
  • Entropic force
  • Electrostatics in biological cell
  • Chemical oscillations (neurons, β cell, ...)
  • Wave phenomena (potential waves, chemical waves)
  • Allostery coupling
  • Protein Folding
  • Self-Assembly (polymerization, micell, ...)
  • Neuron and network of newurons
  • Synchronization (neural network, insulin secretion, ...)
  • Pattern formation


Ten homework problems will be given. Homework must be turned in electronically by email.  Allowed formats are PDF (.pdf), MATLAB script file (.m), Mathematica notebook (.nb). Hand written pages should be scanned in PDF. Do not send picture taken by a cellphone camera app. Use scanner app instead. Microsoft Office Lens (a free app for Android and iPhone) is recommended.


There is no paper exam in this course. Students must complete either a theoretical or a computational project and write a term paper. Proposal, abstract, drafts, and final paper must be submitted as scheduled in the project page. Late submission will result in the substantial loss of points.


Homework carries 50 pts and the term paper 50 pts.

Grade Total Score
A 85 or above
B 75 or above
C 65 or above
D 55 or above
F Otherwise

About Instructor

Dr. Ryoichi Kawai

Office Hour: by appointment
Tel: (205) 934-3931
Fax: (205) 934-8042
(My PGP public key)


Campbell Hall 309
Department of Physics
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1300 University Blvd.
Birmingham, AL 35294

© Dr. Ryoichi Kawai, 2020 All Rights Reserved. No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials.