Biophysicist Job Description

  • Helena Kudiabor
  • Jun 07 2022

Did you always enjoy both chemistry and biology at school? Would you like to combine your interest in the two fields? If so, you might enjoy a career as a biophysicist.


What is a biophysicist?

Biophysics is the application of physical science to biology. Biophysicists are scientists who use the key laws of physics to study biological systems. Biophysicists typically study their subjects and how biological systems are affected by the laws of physics. 

Biophysics research topics typically include: the process by which the brain stores information, how plants use light for photosynthesis or how the heart pumps blood. Many biophysicists specialise in certain areas, such as: biochemistry, computer science and neurobiology.

What is the difference between a biophysicist and a biochemist?

The work of a biochemist and a biophysicist complement each other, but their roles are slightly different. While biophysicists study atomic-level processes, biochemists tend to focus on molecular-level processes. Biochemistry research topics typically include: how cells metabolise food and how toxins affect the work of an organism.

What are the typical responsibilities of a biophysicist?

A typical day of a biophysicist can involve completing a variety of research, testing and administrative tasks. Examples include: conducting scientific experiments, creating, updating and maintaining databases, maintaining laboratory equipment, developing analysis tools for medical purposes and reviewing the findings of other researchers.

What skills do I need to be a biophysicist?

To be a successful biophysicist, you’ll need strong verbal and written communication skills, knowledge of scientific procedures and technology, the ability to manage your time effectively, the ability to think critically and good team-working skills.

Where do biophysicists work?

The experimental nature of biophysics means you’ll typically work in a lab, alongside other biophysicists and biology professionals. The biggest employer of biophysicists are pharmaceutical and medical device companies, who hire biophysicists to work in product development and safety. However, there will also be a number of opportunities in academia, where biophysicists conduct applied research or deliver lectures.

How can I become a biophysicist?

To become a biophysicist, you’ll need an undergraduate degree in a STEM field. However, you’ll find more opportunities in labs if you have a master’s degree. If you’re interested in conducting your own independent research, or becoming a lecturer, you'll need a doctorate degree.

In terms of apprenticeship routes, there’s also the option to take a level 7 research scientist degree apprenticeship. This 30 month course includes a paid-for master's qualification, and is also a great opportunity for you to gain paid work experience while receiving training. Click here for more information on what it's like completing an apprenticeship.