Networking event draws biophysics-related research

UW-L student Stephanie Sippl talking in front of her research poster.

UW-L student Stephanie Sippl, right, presents her research during the Biophysical Society Regional Networking event.

The mechanical properties of a molecule of DNA, the physics of a cell and new ways to teach science were all topics discussed at the first Biophysical Society Regional Networking event Saturday, Oct. 19 at UW-La Crosse. Biophysicists and other scientists from universities across the U.S., as well as researchers from medical centers came together to network.

“Any networking event helps draw attention to UW-L to highlight the research done here, make connections to other researchers, broaden our field, and expose ourselves and our students to other ways of doing things,” says Dan Grilley, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

The event aimed to increase collaboration and drew people from both undergraduate institutions and large research universities across four states — all focused on understanding biological processes using tools of physics, math, chemistry and computer science.

“We come together to highlight techniques and help each other solve problems,” says Assistant Professor of Physics Taviare Hawkins.

UW-L student Tyler Petty pointing to information on his poster during the poster session portion of the event.

UW-L student Tyler Petty presents his research during Biophysical Society Regional Networking event.

It also provided an opportunity for students pursuing scientific careers to be immersed in scientific culture, says Jennifer Klein, assistant professor of Biology. “They can quickly appreciate how scientists depend on each other as resources for finding jobs, understanding data, or simply sharing experiences,” she says.

For Grilley the event resulted in reconnecting with a researcher and arranging to conduct experiments in his lab.

“Something that’s driven home a lot when I speak to other scientists is that we all go through some of the same trials and it’s nice to get the camaraderie and pass on tips, tricks and information,” he says.

Biophysics is a branch of biology that applies methods of physics to study biological structures and processes. The subject area can also include math, chemistry and computer science. Biophysics students could find careers researching enzymes that help with wound healing, developing medicinal drugs, teaching higher education biophysics courses and much more.

UW-L has biophysics classes within the Departments of Chemistry and Biology. An additional course is starting in Physics next year. Faculty from departments are exploring ways to integrate these courses.

The event was sponsored by  thePhysics, Chemistry and Biology departments with financial support from the Biophysical Society and UW-L Alumni Association.