Overview

One of the basic goals of the CTBP is the training of a new generation of young physicists who can lead the field over the next decade. This training must be cognizant of the fact that scientists working on living systems must be comfortable with biology and biologists even while bringing new physical science based techniques to bear on the most critical problems. The basic features of our program include:

  • Encouraging students and postdocs to talk to and work directly with experimentalists to better be able to understand how theory can contribute to the field.
  • Creating weekly seminars, multiple weekly group meetings, and running conferences and workshop. All of these serve to expose our trainees to the breadth of the field and to different approaches, both experimental and theoretical.
  • Participation in the physics of the living systems student research network; Rice is the lead node of this network. This network uses real and virtual meetings of students from a range of participating institutions to help create a world wide community of young researchers who can provide needed mutual guidance as to how to make progress in this highly interdisciplinary field.
  • Finally we regularly host visitors with varying residency periods as yet another path to expose trainees to new ideas in the field.

The second part of our education/outreach program is devoted to outreach. This effort consists of two distinct parts. On the one hand we employ multiple strategies to spread the concepts of physics of living systems as a frontier topic to the broad scientific community. We regularly run specialized meetings for the NSF to help focus the physics community on newly emerging opportunities. And through our individual PI efforts we bring the excitement of the living systems frontier to such organizations as the APS DBIO division, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Chemical Society, the Biomedical Engineering Society and most recently, the American Association for Cancer Research.

Our final effort concerns using the draw of working at a physics frontier to bring in undergraduate students from underrepresented groups. Our Frontiers in Science (FIS) program works with local minority serving institutions to identify promising science majors who then spend summers at the CTBP to learn about life as a scientific researcher. This program has been successful in convincing some of these students to go on to graduate school in the sciences, bringing into our community a more diverse population.