Department of Physics


At the Interface

At the Interface

Combining physics, biology, and chemistry, biophysics seeks to uncover the physical principles that determine biological interactions.

The interdisciplinary field of biophysics applies the models of physics to complex biological systems. The field is wide, asking questions about everything from single molecules up to ecological systems.

At Rollins, Dr. Murdaugh applies elasticity, electrostatic, and surface science models to elucidate the physicochemical interactions between organic and inorganic interfaces. She works cellular level, measuring and manipulating the physical properties of bacteria and plant cells as they interact with their environment. She is particularly interested in biofilms, which are sessile communities of microorganisms attached to a substrate, and the role these structures play in the plant-soil interaction. Biofilms are exceedingly resistant to antimicrobials and understanding the physical changes drugs can induce in these robust structures can lead to more effective infection treatment and prevention.

The biophysics laboratory at Rollins is integrated with biology and biochemistry laboratories, and students will gain many cross-disciplinary skills. Students working in the biophysics research lab learn atomic force microscopy, as well as optical and confocal scanning laser microscopy techniques. Additionally, students write and run code to analyze the acquired atomic force microscopy data.