Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical composition, physical principles, and electrical and mechanical energy of living cells and organisms. Their research reveals the effects of foods, drugs, hormones, and other substances on the tissues and vital processes, including metabolism, reproduction, and growth, of living organisms. Biochemists and biophysicists conduct both basic and applied research. Some of the many job responsibilities of biochemists and biophysicists include:
- Researching the properties and processes of living cells and organisms
- Planning and conducting basic and applied research on the effects of drugs, hormones, and other substances on the tissues and biological processes of cells and organisms
- Collaborating with and overseeing teams of researchers
- Preparing and presenting research findings
Research conducted by biochemists and biophysicists has helped improve the detection of diseases and the development of new medicines and treatments. Biochemists and biophysicists are also discovering alternative sources for energy and new ways to fight and clean up pollution. The BLS predicts employment of biochemists and biophysicists will increase by 31% from 2010 to 2020, thanks in part to the needs of the world's ageing population and the growing demand for alternative fuels and clean energy. Given the small number people employed in this highly specialized and competitive field, that growth will result in just approximately 7,700 jobs over the 10-year period.Read More
Job Growth for
Becoming a Biochemist/Biophysicist
Biochemists and biophysicists will need to complete Ph.D. in order to work in independent research and development positions. They typically begin their academic career by earning a bachelor's degree in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering. A doctoral degree program in biochemistry or biophysics will include advanced coursework in toxicology, genetics, and the study of proteins, laboratory research, and take four to six years to complete.
There are very few online bachelor's or master's degree programs in biochemistry or biophysics. Online degrees in biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering are more common, but students should consult the admissions requirements of graduate schools if their goal is to eventually enroll in a doctoral degree program in biochemistry or biophysics. Degree programs in biochemistry or biophysics will include courses in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology. A sampling of classes in a degree program with a concentration on biochemistry may include:
- Basic Principles of Modern Chemistry
- Laboratory Measurements and Techniques
- General Physics
Postdoctoral careers in biochemistry and biophysics typically begin with a temporary appointment to a research position. Ph.D holders work for a period of two to three years to develop their understanding of their field and publish the results of their research. Biochemists and biophysicists may advance to a managerial, research team leader, or permanent college or university faculty position.