Written By: Juliet Obi, Chapter Vice President, and Kyle Kihn, Chapter President
The Biophysical Society’s (BPS) student chapter program is one of BPS’s membership communities open to students with an interest in biophysics and leadership. Biophysics is centered on the study and understanding of the physics of a wide array of biological systems. It encompasses the study of biological processes that range in scale from the sub-molecular (such as the interplay of the inter-atomic forces that give proteins their particular shape, motion, and function) to the systems level (such as the concerted activity of neural and genetic circuits). BPS is the largest international biophysical scientific society, with more than 30 student chapters around the world.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) BPS student chapter – based at the School of Pharmacy – was founded (and subsequently chartered by BPS) in January 2021 by students in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences’ graduate program who are undertaking PhD studies in research groups involved in the BPS community. The UMB BPS is open to students across the university and has two major objectives – to promote continued professional growth in the area of biophysics among its members and to encourage professional responsibilities, including ethical, social, economic, and safety considerations. The chapter’s second objective includes engaging in educational outreach to local high schools and colleges to promote and inspire future generations of biophysical scientists and Biophysical Society members.
Our chapter has carried out several activities since our founding, including professional and social events. An annual Biophysics Week organized by the national Biophysical Society took place in March, when our chapter organized an educational outreach webinar where we introduced our student chapter and the biophysics research field to undergraduate students at Goucher College.
Our chapter was also involved in the first ever Black in Biophysics (BIBPS) Week in May, which recognized and celebrated Black scientists in biophysics. One of our e-board members was part of the national organizing committee for BIBPS Week events. Another e-board member was one of the panelists on a national BIBPS Next Generation event featuring scientists and PhD students of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. Students at middle and high schools had the opportunity to get a sneak peek into the exciting experiments that Black scientists in various biophysics research fields conduct. They also interacted with the panelists and asked questions.
Networking events are equally as important as professional events, so our student chapter organized a crab fest and outdoor picnic in June. Chapter members enjoyed food, drinks, crabs, and played a variety of sports to get to know one another and foster networking.
The latest event organized by the student chapter was a panel in October that featured a diverse group of early career scientists in academia, industry, government, and start-ups. Panelists shared with our members their unique journeys to their respective careers. The student chapter also participated in the BPS Virtual Grad Career Fair organized by the Biophysical Society. These successful events completed our year of activities for 2021.
Our e-board thanks all chapter members for taking part in our events. We invite all UMB graduate students interested in the field of biophysics to join our student chapter and to take part in the professional, social, and networking opportunities we plan to offer in the coming years.
President: Kyle Kihn
Vice President: Juliet Obi
Secretary: Ally Smith
Treasurer: Catherine Ladipo
Social Media Manager: Aarion Romany
Faculty Advisor: Daniel Deredge, PhD