Physics With a Life Science Emphasis Major

This program is intended for students interested in preparing for a graduate program leading to careers in medical technology and the health sciences, including medical school.

Career Options

Physics with a life science emphasis majors often go on to careers in medical physics, health physics, nuclear medicine technology, bioengineering, or medicine.

High School Preparation

Good preparation for the physics with a life science emphasis major includes high school exposure to Biology, Human Anatomy, Calculus, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Physics.

Enhancing Your Experience

Students who major in physics with a life science emphasis sometimes pursue a second major or minor in the areas of biology, biochemistry, other natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, or the multidisciplinary scientific computing minor.

Degree Requirements

A. All of the following courses

(either M148 & M149 or M151):

C131 General Chemistry I (3 cr.)

This course covers the fundamental principles upon which the study of chemistry is based. Stoichiometry, atomic structure, molecular structure, chemical bonding, behavior of gases, kinetic molecular theory, properties of solutions, chemical reactivity and thermochemistry are included.

C133 General Chemistry I Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory is an inquiry-based approach to understanding the process of doing chemistry. Each week, as a team member with a specific role working for a consulting company, the student receives a letter from a "chemical client" requesting the solution to a chemical problem. It is the responsibility of the team to design a solution, collect data, and report the results to the client in report form.

C142 General Chemistry II (3 cr.)

This course includes the study of the chemistry of molecular forces, redox reactions, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium theory, electrochemistry, chemical dynamics, organic chemistry, phase behavior and solution chemistry.

C144 General Chemistry II Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory is an inquiry-based approach to understanding the process of doing chemistry. Each week, as a team member with a specific role working for a consulting company, the student receives a letter from a "chemical client" requesting the solution to a chemical problem. It is the responsibility of the team to design a solution, collect data, and report the results to the client in report form.

M148 Calculus I with Precalculus (part 1) (4 cr.)

This course, followed by M149, provides a two-semester sequence that covers the material of M151 along with built-in coverage of precalculus topics. Topics in M148 include: solving equations, functions, classes of functions (polynomial, rational, algebraic, exponential, logarithmic), right triangle trigonometry, angle measure, limits and continuity, derivatives, rules for derivatives. Credit is not granted for this course and M151 or courses equivalent to college algebra and college trigonometry.

M149 Calculus I with Precalculus (part 2) (4 cr.)

This course completes the two-semester sequence that begins with M148, and together with M148 provides a two-semester sequence that covers the material of M151 along with built-in coverage of precalculus topics. Topics in M149 include: trigonometric and inverse trigonometric functions, rules for derivatives, applications of derivatives, and definite and indefinite integrals. Credit is not granted for this course and M151.

M151 Calculus I (4 cr.)

This course provides an introduction to the differential and integral calculus. Topics include: the concepts of function, limit, continuity, derivative, definite and indefinite integrals, and an introduction to transcendental functions. Credit is not granted for this course and M148 and M149.

M152 Calculus II (4 cr.)

This course is a continuation of M151. Some of the topics of M151 are revisited at a higher mathematical level. Topics include: applications of the definite integral, techniques of integration, improper integrals, introduction to differential equations, numerical methods for integration and approximation, curves in the plane given parametrically, polar coordinates, and vectors in 2-space and 3-space.

M251 Calculus III (4 cr.)

This course continues the development of Calculus from M151 and M152. Topics include: sequences and series, and differentiation and integration of vector-valued functions and functions of several variables.

P201 Introductory Physics I (3 cr.)

This course is the first half of a two-semester introductory, calculus-based, physics course for all students planning to enter one of the scientific professions. It covers the fundamental principles of mechanics, oscillations, and fluid mechanics.

P202 Introductory Physics I Laboratory (1 cr.)

One three-hour laboratory is held each week covering topics studied in the lectures.

P211 Introductory Physics II (3 cr.)

This course is the second half of a two-semester introductory, calculus-based, physics course for all students planning to enter one of the scientific professions. It covers the fundamental principles of waves, physical and geometrical optics, and electricity and magnetism.

P212 Introductory Physics II Laboratory (1 cr.)

One three-hour laboratory is held each week covering topics studied in the lectures.

P304 Introduction to Modern Physics with Laboratory (4 cr.)

This course considers atomic and nuclear physics and studies the experimental evidence that led to the development of the theories of quantum mechanics. The special theory of relativity, wave particle duality, and atomic structure are also examined.

B. All of the following courses:

B110 Botany and Zoology I (3 cr.)

Emphasis is placed upon photosynthesis and respiration,and physiological processes including nutrition, gas exchange, transportation and regulation of body fluids. It is an investigation of the structure and function of both plants and animals and intended as an introductory overview.

B111 Botany and Zoology I Laboratory (1 cr.)

These laboratory studies complement the concepts presented in B110. Investigations including physiological and molecular relationships and interactions are the basis for the course.

B120 Botany and Zoology II (3 cr.)

Emphasis is placed on plant and animal phyla, organs and organ systems of both plants and animals.

B121 Botany and Zoology II Laboratory (1 cr.)

Laboratory studies complementing B120 include plant and animal hormones and reproduction, bacterial techniques, and phylogenetic investigations.

C321 Organic Chemistry I (3 cr.)

Organized by chemical functional groups and reaction mechanisms, this course presents both classical and modern theories of organic chemistry while rigorously exploring chemical structure reactivity relationships. The fundamentals of nomenclature, physical properties, chemical structure, stereochemistry, organic-reactions, mechanisms, synthesis, purification, and compound characterization are emphasized. Biological, medical, and familiar real-world examples are discussed in the context of organic chemistry.

C323 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory complements the lecture segment of the course by demonstrating and utilizing the concepts learned in the classroom to acquire, isolate, and characterize desired organic reaction products. In this laboratory, students become familiar with the equipment, glassware, techniques, and expertise required to implement the chemistry proposed on paper, to optimize it, and to communicate it to the chemical community. A practical context for the developed chemical intuition is provided.

M252 Linear Algebra (4 cr.)

This course provides an introduction to techniques and applications of linear algebra. Topics include: systems of linear equations, matrices, determinants, Euclidean n-space, real vector spaces, basis and dimension, linear transformations, inner products, and eigenvalues and eigenvectors.

P314 Digital Systems with Laboratory (4 cr.)

This is a course on digital electronics and its applications in modern electronic instrumentation. Emphasis is placed on gaining experience with the use of individual digital integrated circuits and programmable arrays. The course covers Boolean algebra, simple gates, combinational and sequential logic circuits, counters, shift registers, state machines, astable multivibrators, encoding, decoding, multiplexing, and conversion between analog and digital representations. Coursework involves both circuit simulation and actual hardware implementations. The course targets applications in the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science.

P340 Classical Mechanics (3 cr.)

This course is an analytical study of Newtonian mechanics, including the harmonic oscillator, central force motion, nonlinear oscillators, and an introduction to the Lagrangian formulation.

P390/391 Advanced Laboratory I, II (1 each cr.)

This course is generally taken during the senior year, although it may be taken earlier. Students either submit a project to be explored or constructed, perform a series of measurements and subsequent data analysis on an already-existing apparatus, or undertake a computational or theoretical project under the guidance of the laboratory instructor. The project must include a significant writing component.

C. Three of the following courses:

B310 Genetics with Laboratory (4 cr.)

The principles underlying hereditary variation in living organisms are the focus of this course. These topics are centered about the transmission of hereditary traits, cytogenetics, basic gene concepts, introductory molecular biology, population genetics, and the genetic basis of evolution.

B311 Cell Biology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

This course is a study of the cell at the ultrastructural, biochemical, and physiological levels. Special consideration is given to respiration, photosynthesis, secretion, cytoskeleton, cell cycle, cell growth, movement, membranes, and other organelles.

B313 Physiology with Laboratory (4 cr.)

This course explores the functions of the body systems of humans. The interrelationships of organ systems processes to maintain homeostasis are emphasized. Laboratory sessions provide experiences with procedures and instrumentation to gather data that highlight the function of the body systems. Course topics are particularly relevant to the health sciences.

B409 Biochemistry with Laboratory (4 cr.)

The principal concepts of biochemistry are the focus of this course. The major themes include the relationship between the three-dimensional structure of proteins and their biological function and the chemistry and metabolism of biologically important macromolecules including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids.

B450 Radiation Biology (3 cr.)

The effects of radiation, particularly ionizing radiation, on molecules, cells, tissues, and the whole organism are studied. A brief background of the nature, sources and absorption of radioactive energy is presented. Some emphasis is also placed on the understanding and use of modern instrumentation and techniques available for biological research and fluorescence analysis.

Recommended electives:

C322 Organic Chemistry II with Laboratory (4 cr.)

A continuation of C321/C323, this course builds upon the fundamentals presented in C321/C323. It is organized by functional groups and reaction mechanisms, while integrating this knowledge into chemical synthesis. Additional topics include aromaticity, NMR and IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, carbonyl chemistry, synthetic strategy, and advanced C–C bond forming reactions.

CS106 Introduction to Programming for Sciences (3 cr.)

This course teaches introductory programming within a problem solving framework applicable to the sciences. The course emphasizes technical programming, introductory data storage techniques, and the processing of scientific data. There is an emphasis on designing and writing correct code using an easy to learn scientific programming language such as Python. Advanced excel spreadsheet concepts will be taught and utilized during the programming process.

M341 Differential Equations with Applications (3 cr.)

This course provides an introduction to the theory, methods, and applications of ordinary differential equations. Topics include: first order differential equations, linear differential equations with constant coefficients, and systems of differential equations.

P344 Mathematical Methods for Science (3 cr.)

This course serves physics majors as well as those mathematics majors whose area of interest is analysis. Topics include: Fourier series, complex numbers, analytic functions, and derivatives and integrals of complex functions.

P380 Quantum Mechanics I (3 cr.)

This course expands on the ideas of quantum mechanics introduced in P304, and develops the necessary formalisms and tools for further work. Topics include the Schrödinger equation in its time independent and time-dependent forms, an introduction to operators, square-well and harmonic oscillator potentials, scattering, the hydrogen atom, angular momentum, and perturbation theory.