Biophysical Society Bulletin | March 2024

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March 2024


Mark your calendars for the ninth annual Biophysics Week, happening March 18–22, 2024! This global celebration acknowledges the in valuable work of biophysicists and the groundbreaking advancements they've brought to science. Join us in recognizing their contributions and spreading awareness about the vital role biophysics plays in shaping our world. Throughout the week, engage with many Affiliate Events hosted virtually and in person by members worldwide. Don't miss out—explore the lineup and get ready to participate! Moreover, BPS has organized a week filled with special events, exclusive resources, and unique offerings all dedicated to the celebration of biophysics, including: Gear Up for Biophysics Week 2024 • BPS Membership Specials • Author Talk with Kate Zernike : "The Exceptions: Nancy Hop kins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science" • On-Demand Feature—Biophysics 101: Membrane Model Systems: Nanodiscs, Giant Vesicles, and Simulations • Career Booster Micro-Video Series with Career Consultant Alaina G. Levine • Beyond English as the Language of Science: A Multilingual Biophysics Networking Event • New Classical Lay Summaries • New Lesson Plans • 2024 Biophysics Week T-Shirt • And More! For the most updated schedule and information, please check the Biophysics Week website at Thank you to our 2024 Biophysics Week Partners

These Biophysics Week Partners have committed to supporting and promoting the public awareness of the importance of biophysics in science.


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President's Message Biophysicist in Profile

Communities Member Corner

Public Affairs Publications

Career Development

Important Dates

President's Message

Opportunities for the Future It is a distinct honor and privilege to address you as the freshly minted president of the Biophys

the Society, and therefore in our level of engagement. These four values permeate all the programs and activities organized by the Biophysical Society, and it is my intention to communi cate with you more about them in the months ahead. For now, I want to remind all of us of four imminent vulnerabilities we are prioritizing. Recover from the financial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past three years BPS has been drawing on its finan cial reserves due to the significant cost of organizing the 2021 virtual meeting and reduced attendance in the years since. Thanks to the wise stewardship of previous Councils, BPS still enjoys healthy reserves. However, to continue to offer all the programs our members have come to rely upon, it is imperative that we return to a balanced operating budget. This goal will require stronger and more deliberate engagement from our members: to increase registration to BPS-organized meetings, to increase manuscript submissions to BPS journals, and to encourage colleagues and students to join the Society. The Annual Meeting, Biophysical Journal , and membership dues each account for about one-third of the Society’s revenues, and we must be vigilant to ensure the health of all three. Implement a new information technology system. In 2023, Council approved a multi-year strategic investment to overhaul BPS’s information technology platform. The goal is to improve online member experiences and to support all our strategic objectives more effectively. This substantial effort is critical to BPS’s long-term success and sustainability, and it is ongoing. I will continue to update you with its progress as it develops. Adapt to the evolving publishing landscape. After extensive analysis and deliberation, Council accepted a proposal to con tinue publishing Biophysical Journal and Biophysical Reports with Cell Press. The proposal includes seven years of guaranteed revenue from publishing, which will allow the Society flexibility to adapt to rapidly evolving changes in funding policies, will continue to improve author experience, and will maintain the high quality our readers have come to expect. Promote the reputation of BPS as THE trusted leader in quanti tative life sciences. While many of our members have been rec ognized as unsurpassed pioneers and innovators in quantita tive life sciences for more than half a century, we can do more to explain how BPS has been instrumental in their success and how BPS remains critical to nurturing the vibrant community that will empower future discoveries. Going forward, it will be important to be more deliberate and effective in emphasizing the critical role BPS plays in supporting our members to train the next generation, review papers, critique grant applications, advise on policy, and so on. Although fundamental to the

ical Society, a global organiza tion that has fostered impactful discoveries in quantitative life sciences for over 65 years! Since I joined as a trainee more than 20 years ago, the Biophysical Society has been a significant source of support and inspiration for my

Gabriela K. Popescu

research program and for my professional growth. It is now my duty and responsibility to ensure that the Society continues to meet its fundamental mission even as it adapts to ongoing in ternal and environmental challenges. What do I mean by that? Our common aspiration to “harness the power of biophysics to improve the human condition and preserve the planet” remains a motivating source of inspiration worldwide! From phase separation to designer organisms and environmental biology, the quantitative approaches that biophysics offers remain critical in finding solutions to current global challenges faced by humanity. To continue to fulfill our mission (https:/ and meet our strategic priorities (https:/ nance) over the next few years, it will be important to remain vigilant in preserving and acting on our core values—scientific excellence; integrity and transparency; diversity, equity, and in clusion; and community building. Conversely, ongoing cultural, technological, and economic changes in society and unprece dented alterations in our planetary physical environment bring new challenges to science and scientists and force us to adapt our research programs and how we interact as scientists. How can we ensure continuity of purpose as we face new challenges? First, we must recommit to our four fundamental values. Pre serve scientific excellence by adhering to the highest standards of integrity and rigor both in practicing science and in our var ious service roles as mentors, reviewers, editors, consultants, administrators, etc. Quantitative rigor, a defining strength of biophysics, will help to reaffirm the value of science against misinformation, and to prevent further erosion of the trust the public places in science. Continue efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion, to safeguard the respectful space that nurtures creativity and innovation, and to foster feelings of belonging, collaboration, and contribution, which are integral to community building. Remain committed to open communi cation about the events, programs, and processes in which the Biophysical Society engages to ensure continued integrity and transparency, which are fundamental to the trust we place in

March 2024



President's Message

Officers President Gabriela K. Popescu President-Elect Lynmarie K. Thompson Past-President Taekjip Ha Secretary Teresa Giraldez Treasurer Samantha Harris Council Patricia Bassereau Margaret Cheung Martin Gruebele Taviare Hawkins Anne Kenworthy Syma Khalid Emmanuel Margeat Anita Niedziela-Majka Elizabeth Rhoades Tamar Schlick Valeria Vasquez Jing Xu Biophysical Journal Vasanthi Jayaraman Editor-in-Chief The Biophysicist Padmini Rangamani Editor-in-Chief Biophysical Reports

scientific enterprise and its success, too often these contributions remain insufficiently rec ognized, which renders us vulnerable to losing these critical ingredients. In articulating these vulnerabilities my goal is to challenge all of us to consider them as oppor tunities for increased meaningful engagement with the Society. You can start by renewing your membership, encouraging colleagues to join, submitting a manuscript, joining a committee,

organizing a symposium, and so much more! Please share with me any additional thoughts, your feedback, and any suggestions you may have. I promise to get back to you. I am glad to have met many of you in Philadel phia and look forward to celebrating a success ful year in Los Angeles in 2025. Wishing you a

happy and productive year ahead. — Gabriela K. Popescu , President

Find Your Next Career Connect with Hundreds of Active Employers Today at https:/

Jörg Enderlein Editor-in-Chief

Society Office Jennifer Pesanelli Executive Officer Newsletter

Executive Editor Jennifer Pesanelli Managing Editor John Long Production Ray Wolfe Meredith Zimmerman Proofreader/Copy Editor The Biophysical Society Newsletter (ISSN 0006-3495) is published eleven times per year, January-December, by the Biophysical Society, 5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Distributed to USA members and other countries at no cost. Cana dian GST No. 898477062. Postmaster: Send address changes to Biophysical Society, 5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110, Rockville, MD 20852. Copyright © 2024 by the Biophysical Society. Darren Early Laura Phelan

Nominate yourself or a colleague for a 2025 Society Award Explore Four New Awards: Klaus Schulten and Zaida Luthey-Schulten Computational Biophysics Lecture Award, Early Independent Career Award, Outstanding Doctoral Research in Biophysics Award, and PUI Faculty Award. To ensure a diverse candidate pool, we particularly encourage nominations of women, international members, and those from underrepresented groups. Learn more by visiting our website: Application Deadline: May 1, 2024

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March 2024



Biophysicist in Profile

Ragothaman M. Yennamalli Areas of Research Structural bioinformatics, systems biology, and machine learning

Institution SASTRA Deemed University, India


Ragothaman M. Yennamalli is a computational biologist with more than a decade of experience in predictive modelling and biomolecular simulation projects. After the completion of his PhD degree from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, he gained more experience as a postdoctoral research associate at Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Rice University, before settling into his current position as an assistant professor at SASTRA Deemed University.

Ragothaman M. Yennamalli

Ragothaman M. Yennamalli grew up in Madras, now called Chennai, in India. His father was an army accounts officer, so the family moved around often in Yennamalli’s youth. “My childhood experiences involved lots of traveling and settling in new places. An advantage of this exposure was that geog raphy for me was never a limitation. I could adapt to new environments easily. Also, I made new friends everywhere we went,” he says. “During our years in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, I was exposed to the diverse and wild fauna and flora these islands had. The green geckos and a unique antiseptic plant are unique to these islands. Trying to identify the wild ones, looking at coral reefs, and cohabiting with snakes and centipedes made me curious about biology, in general.” His family is made up of artists and educators. Before his army position, his father had been a teacher for years; his mother worked as a primary school teacher. “Three genera tions of painters left an indelible mark on me, right from my grandfather, my mom, to my brother, who are full-fledged artists. Our dinner table conversations would be mostly about art, music, dance, and K. L. Saigal songs,” he recalls. “My par ents did not pressure me into becoming something specific. They gave full freedom to my brother and me in choosing our own paths. That privilege of choice was hugely important for me.” After high school, he studied microbiology at the University of Madras, then went on to earn a master’s degree in micro biology from Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU). Following his master’s studies, he studied bioinformatics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), eventually earning his PhD. “The science discussions in MKU and JNU over coffee and tea at the canteen opened my mind unlike elsewhere,” Yennamalli says. “During my master's, we had a course on structural biology and those pretty pictures of proteins fascinated me a lot! In my PhD I had decided that I would work on something related to protein structures. I learned during my coursework that computational structural biology had topics on crystal lization and space groups. It was very fascinating to me and

opened a new world to me. At that time, a new collaboration was started between JNU and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. I was nominated and I ended up studying protein structures at Bostjan Kobe and Paul Young ’s lab, spe cifically about the envelope protein of dengue virus. Dengue viral fever is endemic to both India and Australia. I took that as a PhD project and worked towards finding a drug that could help millions back home. I studied how the E protein undergoes conformational change using molecular dynamics simulations. Also, using a structure-based drug design ap proach we identified a promising lead compound that worked in experimental setup. The guidance I received from Naidu Subbarao as a supervisor was invaluable.” He next undertook a postdoctoral position with Alok Bhat tacharya at JNU working on drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis genomes. Then he moved to Iowa State Universi ty (ISU) to work with Taner Z. Sen on a carbohydrate-degrading enzyme called endoglucanase. “While my work was compu tational in nature, I collaborated with experimentalists, and I was involved in multiple projects. This helped me acquire many different technical skills in the domains of systems bi ology and machine learning,” Yennamalli explains. “To enhance my experience and to work in a large team, I worked with George N. Phillips, Jr. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I was involved with a multi-institutional structural genomics project on natural product biosynthetic pathway proteins… Later, George moved to Rice University, and I moved as well to set up the computational part of his lab and continued the same project.” Yennamalli is now an assistant professor at SASTRA Deemed University, a primarily undergraduate institution in the south of India. His position is equal parts teaching and research. Currently, he is studying the structure and function of redox enzymes called lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LP MOs) that have an unusual flat surface as part of their active site. “I am using machine learning algorithms to classify these LPMOs into various families,” he reveals. “I also work

March 2024



Biophysicist in Profile

closely with my collaborator Richa Priyadarshini at Shiv Nadar University on an arsenic-resistant bacterium isolated in the fresh waters of India. We look at pathways and molecular mechanisms of how these bacteria tolerate arsenic and other heavy metals. Additionally, I have restarted working on ge nomes, especially on indigenous bovine genomes, to under stand their genetic makeup for climate resilience and disease resistance.” He also works on small projects with his under graduate students, led by the students’ interests. These side projects often end up being quite exciting and rewarding. “One of these side gigs was on the calcium-dependent conforma tional changes in the human transglutaminase 2,” Yennamalli says. “This was the work that I presented as a poster at the 2024 BPS Annual Meeting. As clichéd as it sounds, mento ring is the most rewarding aspect of this gig. As I work with undergraduate students, when I explain and teach certain higher abstract concepts, the moment the light bulb goes on brings a smile to my face. It also helps that they are young, and one can mold their minds and channel their energies into something tangible.” The biggest challenge thus far in his career has been finding community in science. “During my postdoc, I couldn’t find many postdocs who worked in the same department or in the same building. It made me go out of my way to find a postdoc colleague to discuss science with,” he shares. “Fortunately, there was a critical mass of postdocs at ISU and we ended up creating a postdoc association.” After becoming a faculty member, the same problem resurfaced and he realized how isolated being a principal investigator (PI) can make you feel. He struggled at first, before finding new ways to connect with his peers. “After a lonely period of three years, I found my people in the NewPI Slack and that changed my life for the better,” he says. “Now, I am blessed with colleagues in India with whom I can discuss science and we help each other out professionally. Finding other Indian PIs over X [formerly Twit ter] has been a life-changing experience.”

The Biophysical Society has been another source of connec tion for Yennamalli. “BPS is very inclusive and welcoming. Without question, the Annual Meetings are the best,” he says. “After every BPS meeting, I come back supercharged and bursting with ideas and thoughts that sustain me for a long time. I have benefited both personally and professionally from my membership in BPS. Personally, I made a lot of friends at BPS meetings; professionally I benefited when I started giving back by participating in committees.” His postdoc PI recom mended he get involved with the Society’s Public Affairs Com mittee. He tells us, “It was intimidating at the beginning but after a few meetings, I was at ease and started vocalizing my views. After two terms, I got involved with the Early Careers Committee. My two terms were so rewarding to me. These committees are special and highly useful.” Yennamalli spends much of his time teaching budding scientists, and the advice he shares with those just starting study and careers in biophysics is some that he was given by biophysicist Rajini Rao of the Johns Hopkins School of Medi cine. That advice includes: Prepare yourself at every step; be it classes, grants, or meetings, planning and preparing takes you far. Communicating what you think and what you want is key to getting people to listen to you. Find your support system and stick with them! Of course, family is the most important support, but next are your friends and colleagues. Do not compare yourself with others; compare you to yourself from the past; look at where you are now and how far you have come. Take calculated risks in science; challenge your self to learn new things and expect a fair amount of failure. It is a marathon and not a sprint; so, listen to your gut instinct and take breaks from the grind; you’ll need lots of energy and motivation to keep going.

Submit your paper.

March 2024



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EPA Reverses Decision to Stop Mammal Testing by 2035

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has abandoned a controversial plan to phase out all use of mammals to test the safety of chemicals by 2035. The hard deadline—imposed in 2019 to accelerate a move toward nonanimal models such as computer programs and “organs on a chip”—made the EPA unique among U.S. federal agencies. However, it divided scien tists, some of whom say animals remain the gold standard for assessing the safety of chemicals that could harm humans and wildlife. Other federal agencies have long vowed to reduce their reliance on animal testing—a 2020 U.S. spending bill even compelled some to do so—but none has set a hard deadline for ending animal research.

NSF Launches Regional Innovation Engines At the close of January, the National Science Foundation (NSF) established the first-ever NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) program, awarding 10 teams spanning 18 states. With a potential NSF investment of nearly $1.6 billion over the next decade, NSF Engines represents one of the single largest broad investments in place-based research and development in the nation's history—uniquely placing science and technology leadership as the central driver for regional economic competitiveness. Each NSF Engine will initially receive up to $15 million for two years. NSF's initial $150 million investment in these 10 regions is being matched nearly two to one in commitments from state and local governments, other federal agencies, philanthropy, and private industry. Teams that demonstrate progress toward well-defined mile stones could potentially receive up to $160 million each from NSF over 10 years, as they seek to catalyze the NSF funding to draw additional investments into the overall region. The announcement delivers on the bipartisan priorities outlined in the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which authorized the NSF Engines program. Each engine will receive $15 million to rev up in the first two years, with the promise of $145 million more over the next eight years if it meets certain milestones. NSF says its initial investment is being matched by $365 million from private sector partners.

Beyond the 10 NSF Engines awards, a subset of the semi finalists and finalists will be invited to pursue NSF Engines Development Awards, with each receiving up to $1 million to further develop their partnerships and model for a future NSF Engines proposal. They will join 44 existing awardees announced in March 2023. Around the World New Head of Argentinian Science Agency Causes Furor The ongoing economic crisis in Argentina has left the country accustomed to government protests. The past few weeks have seen active protest campaigns directed at the Nation al Council of Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina (CONICET), the country’s main science agency, led by their own scientists. The furor surrounds the new head of the agency, Daniel Salamone . Salamone took office at the end of 2023, having been appointed by President Javier Milei after the dissolution of the Ministry of Science and his vocal criti cism of CONICET’s productivity. Salamone has expressed the belief that private enterprise will make research more efficient and relevant, which leads researchers to raise questions about his commitment to protecting the work of CONICET and the interests of its researchers.

March 2024



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Salamone has stated that CONICET needs to rethink how it spends its resources, for example, by bolstering research that helps alleviate the poverty affecting 40% of Argentines. Engaging with the private sector could free up funds for such research. A law could be passed soon to speed that process. Designed to aid the transfer of scientific and technological knowledge to private entities, it was proposed by Milei and is currently under examination in the National Congress. Critics worry the law would starve basic research of funding. One of the top science agencies in South America, with 11,800 researchers, CONICET currently lacks an approved budget. Even if the government matched the $400 million it received in 2023, the country’s 200% annual inflation rate has sharply eroded the budget’s value. Zelenskyy Pledges to Restore Ukrainian Scientific Landscape Back in November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Mariupol State University (MSU) at their new location in Kyiv to pay tribute to their resilience during a time of war. Since MSU relocated in April 2022, it has re-enrolled 3,200 students, ~70% of the prewar number. Thirty-one state universities have been uprooted from Russian-occupied territory since 2014, along with two dozen research institutes and scientific centers affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Tens of thousands of students and academics have been displaced. For all the success that MSU has had in its relocation to Kyiv, not all relo cations proved as effective, with some institutions essentially “dying out.” Zelenskyy and his government remain committed not only to emerging from the ongoing war successfully, but also to restoring vitality to a fractured academic landscape and ultimately luring academics back to the country. Govern ment efforts to craft such a plan are currently underway.

Take advantage of BPS On-Demand Resources today! Explore a library of on-demand webinars and videos with exclusive content to boost your knowledge and skills. ondemand

The BPS Find a Biophysicist Network (FaB) currently has more than 1,110 members. If you are looking for a biophysicist, the FaB Network allows members and nonmembers to search the global database to find peers, mentors, K-12 classroom visitors, speakers, science fair judges, student chapter sponsors, and more.

Numbers By the

March 2024




Know the Editor Baohua Ji Zhejiang University

Editor’s Pick

Editorial Board Member Biophysical Journal

Baohua Ji

What are you currently working on that excites you? I am currently exploring how groups of cells behave in the processes of wound healing, tissue morphogenesis, and can cer metastasis. What excites me is the possibility of influenc ing these processes via mechanical approaches because cell adhesion, cell polarization, and cell arrangement are sensitive to mechanical stimuli. If we can adjust the mechanical stress in living organisms, it opens a new avenue for treating diseas es. This perspective lets us tackle diseases from a mechanical viewpoint, intervening in processes like optimizing wound healing and resisting tumor spread. What has been your most exciting discovery as a biophysicist? The most exciting discovery is that we found a strong con nection between the way cells are organized and the stress field in cells and tissue. For instance, at the level of individual cells, the anisotropy of tensile stress in cells determines cell polarity, adding new aspects to what we understand as cell polarity. At the tissue level, the stress in the tissue shapes how cells are arranged. These findings show how the organi zation of cells in living tissue is linked to mechanical forces at multiple scales, uncovering the secret of how Mother Nature builds living tissue. We then built a quantitative relationship between the stress field and cell polarization and arrange ment. This provides the basis for predicting how cells will behave in tissue at various physiological and pathological conditions.

Biophysical Reports Observing mechanosensitive channels in action in living bacteria Mohammad Sharifian Gh., Michael J. Wilhelm, Hai-Lung Dai “Mechanosensitive (MS) channels are important safety valves that protect cells from extreme pressures after acute changes in environmental osmolarity. Specifically, MS channels are membrane-embedded proteins, which (when open) permit free diffusion of osmolytes (salts) across the cytoplasmic membrane. In addition to conditions of osmotic shock, it is now known that amphiphilic molecules can likewise acti vate these channels, allowing free passage of otherwise membrane-impermeant species. Currently, the dominant means for experimentally monitoring these channels is the patch-clamp method, which typically makes use of channels embedded in isolated membrane systems. Here, the authors demonstrate a nonlinear optical scattering technique, which permits observation of the activity of MS channels in intact living cells, even multimembrane cells (e.g., Gram-negative bacteria).”

Version of Record Published December 11, 2023 DOI: https:/

Be an inspiration to your community and help change the lives of those inter ested in or studying science. Sign up to be a mentor, K-12 classroom visitor, speaker, science fair judge, or student chapter sponsor. Access to the network is free for all BPS members and non-members. For more information, visit Use Your Expertise to Make a Difference!

March 2024



Special issue dedicated to Watt W. Webb: Point spread functions—from fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to multiphoton microscopy Call for Papers


Elizabeth Rhoades (University of Pennsylvania)

To celebrate the scientific contributions of our late colleague and mentor, Watt W. Webb, we invite contributions from the areas of biophysics that motivated his remarkable career, especially theoretical development and application of fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and multiphoton microscopy, as well as the approaches inspired by these methods, including single-molecule spectroscopy and super-resolution imaging. Webb, who passed away in 2020, had a profound impact on biomolecular spectroscopy and microscopy. Along with colleagues, he was responsible for inventing methods, such as fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and multi photon microscopy, that are now ubiquitous tools in laboratories around the

world. In addition to developing the theoretical basis and basic implementation of these methods, he also applied them to a broad range of challenging biological systems from DNA sequencing at the single-molecule level to membrane phase separation to metabolic imaging of brain slices. His scientific creativity and rigor were matched by his ability to bring out the best in his grad uate students and postdocs by cultivating a laboratory environment that encouraged exploration and independence. Over his 60 years, he mentored several generations of scientists who have gone on to make their own seminal contributions to the field of biophysics.

Deadline for submission: August 15, 2024

• Instructions for authors can be found at: https:/ • Please include a cover letter stating that you would like to contribute to the Watt W. Webb special issue and please describe why the work fits into the special issue. • Normal publishing charges will apply. • Questions can be addressed to the BJ Editorial Office [; (240) 290-5600] or Elizabeth Rhoades (

Biophysical Society

To submit, visit https:/

March 2024




Biological Helpers at the Molecular Level: Cell Stress, Environmental Factors, and Chaperones

chaperones in E. coli, with emphasis on Hsp70. She explained how the Hsp70 chaperone is a heat shock factor that also works under non-stress conditions by facilitating protein folding and delay ing aggregation. Hsp70 is found in most living organisms and performs some of its most inter esting action cotrans lationally and upon nascent-protein release from the ribosome.

In October 2023, the Convention Center of Portland, OR host ed the SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference. SAC NAS is the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispan ics and Native Americans, and it is dedicated to encouraging underrepresented young scientists across the United States to pursue advanced degrees and scholarly research in STEM. In addition to promoting diversity, inclusion, and professional advancement via local-chapter activities and other events, SACNAS holds a yearly National Conference that brings to gether thousands of ethnically underrepresented undergrad uate and graduate students, as well as postdocs, university professors, and industry scientists. The SACNAS National Conference provides attedees with exposure to a wide range of recent scientific concepts and discoveries. In addition, they can visit a large number of exhibitor booths that advertise graduate school programs as well as industry, postdoctoral, and academic jobs available across the United States. At the most recent conference, a biophysics-related event chaired by Silvia Cavagnero , Professor of Chemistry and Bio chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, focused on the concept of cell stress and molecular chaperones. All presentations were sponsored by the Biophysical Society. Cavagnero started the session by explaining the meaning of the term “biophysics,” which is often regarded as somewhat mysterious by non-experts. She went on to provide examples of what biophysicists do, and how they often synergistically combine computation and experiments to quantitatively un derstand and predict the behavior of biological systems. The session continued with a presentation by Pamela Padilla , past SACNAS President and Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of North Texas. Padilla discussed how diets rich in glucose and other carbohydrates lead to physiological imbalance and stress, ultimately compromising proteostasis and causing metabolic imbalances in C. elegans animal mod els. Cavagnero also introduced the concept of a “molecular chaperone.” Her presentation described the major molecular

The session concluded with a presentation by Rachel Klevit , which traced the step-by-step evolution of her scientific journey—from protein to protein. She shared how her struc tural analysis of cellular function has been primarily carried out by multidimensional nuclear magnetic resonance, due to the ability of this non-perturbative technique to provide information not only on structure but also on local and global dynamics of biomolecules. Towards the end of her presen tation, Klevit explained how she landed on the analysis of the conformation and function of amazing cellular helpers known as small heat-shock proteins (sHSPs). This class of chaperones has long been known to play a role in aggregation prevention. Yet, the study of sHSPs’ mechanism of action has only recently become possible, upon taming their challenging physical properties. In summary, the 2023 SACNAS session on “Cell Stress, En vironmental Factors, and Molecular Chaperones” provided a glimpse of the intricate world of proteostasis, and was very well received by the underrepresented trainees and principal investigators who attended the event.

Get Involved.

The Biophysical Society provides many opportunities for members to get involved and give back to the biophysics community. To learn more about the different opportunities, please visit

March 2024




BPS Welcomes Six New Student Chapters The Biophysical Society Student Chapter program is open to students with an interest in biophysics and leadership. The program aims to build active student chapters around the globe, increase student membership and participation within the Society, and promote biophysics as a discipline across col lege campuses through activities organized by the chapters. If you are interested in forming your own chapter as either a mentor or student, then you may apply for BPS Student Chapter recognition during one of the two annual calls for applications. Each chapter must be sponsored by a BPS mem ber. The Spring Call for Student Chapters will be open from March 1 through May 1, 2024. For more information about organizing a new student chapter, please visit: https:/www. BPS now has 60 Student Chapters worldwide, including 6 newly formed ones. See if there’s a local chapter near you! • Alexandria University (Egypt) • AL-MS (University of Alabama/Mississippi State University) Student Chapter of the Biophysical Society (USA) • Amherst College Student Chapter of the Biophysical Society (USA) • Cedarville University (USA) • Clemson University (USA) • Columbia University (USA) • Cornell University (USA) • CWU Biophysics Club at Central Washington University (USA) • Egerton University (Kenya) • Emory University (USA) • Florida State University (USA) • Gā ṅ geya Student Chapter at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata (India) • Georgia Tech (USA) • Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (India) • Irvine Student Chapter at the University of California, Irvine (USA) • Istanbul Student Chapter (Turkey) • Johns Hopkins University (USA) • Kent State University (USA) • Llano Estacado Young Biophysicists at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (USA) • Arizona Student Chapter (USA) • Bahçeşehir University (Turkey) • Biophysical Society Kenya Chapter (Kenya) • Biophysical Society San Diego (USA) • Biophysics Genoa Student Chapter (Italy) • Biophysics Pashchim Student Chapter (India)

• Milano Student Chapter (Italy) • Mustafa Kemal University (Turkey) • NY Capital District (USA) • Oregon State University Student Chapter at Oregon State University (USA) • Puerto Rico Biophysical Society Student Chapter (USA) • Sanyo-Onoda City University Student Chapter at Sanyo-Onoda City University (Japan) • SJU (St. John's University) Student Chapter of BPS (USA) • Structural Biology and Biophysics Club at Purdue University (USA) • The City of New York (CUNY) Student Chapter (USA) • The Medical School of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (Mexico) • The University of New Mexico (USA) • UB (University of Buffalo) Biophysics Club (USA) • Uganda Student Chapter (Uganda) • UMASS Lowell Biophysics Student Chapter (USA) • University of California, Davis (USA) • University of California, Los Angeles (USA) • University of California, Riverside (USA) • University of Chile (Chile) • University of Cincinnati (USA) • University of Denver Biophysics Student Chapter of the Biophysical Society (USA) • University of Lethbridge & University of Montana (Canada & USA) • University of London (United Kingdom) • University of Maryland, Baltimore Student Chapter (USA) • University of Maryland - College Park (USA) • University of Michigan (USA) • University of St Andrews (United Kingdom) • University of Texas, Arlington (USA) • University of Texas, Austin (USA) • University of Toronto Student Chapter of the Biophysical Society (Canada) • University of Wisconsin–Madison (USA)

• Wayne State University (USA) • Wesleyan University (USA) • Yale University (USA)

• Masinde Muliro University (Kenya) • Michigan State University (USA)

For more information or to learn how to start or join a chapter, visit:

March 2024




Kalina Hristova Public Affairs Committee

Kalina Hristova

Is this your first volunteer position for BPS? If not, what other positions have you held? I have been volunteering for many years. I have served on the BPS Council. I have served as Treasurer of the Society. I have served as Chair of the Membrane Structure and Function Subgroup. I have served as an Editorial Board Member for Biophysical Journal . Why do you volunteer? I have been a member of the Biophysical Society and an active participant in Society activities for three decades. I volunteer so I can give back to the Society and help shape its future. I also volunteer to help young scientists and to excite them about biophysics. What has been a highlight from your volunteer experience? As a member of the Publics Affairs Committee, I participate in the Rally for Medical Research. At the Rally, scientists, doctors, patients, and advocates visit Washington, DC and meet with policymakers to raise awareness about the critical

need for increased funding and resources for basic biomed ical research. The event serves as a powerful call to action, urging policymakers and the public to prioritize the health and well-being of all citizens. At the Rally, I met cancer survivors with a very deep appreciation of biophysical research. I plan to continue participating in the Rally for years to come. Do you have advice for others who might be thinking about volunteering? Do not hesitate; it will be a very rewarding experience. You will get to meet amazing colleagues who share your passion for biophysics. You will work with young people and help them launch their careers in biophysics. When not volunteering for BPS, what do you work on? Most of the time you will find me sitting at my desk staring at the computer. I love looking at data and trying to understand what they tell us. I also love discussing hypotheses with my collaborators and planning the next stage of the project with my students.

Give the Gift of Membership Looking for the perfect gift for a colleague or aspiring biophysicist? To give the gift of BPS membership, visit

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For Industry Partner Membership information, contact SILVER

March 2024



Member Corner

Members in the News

Michael Dustin , University of Oxford and Society member since 2017, was named a 2023 Royal Society Fellow.

Trushar Patel , University of Lethbridge and Society member since 2009, was named a 2023 Royal So ciety of Biology Fellow.

David Weitz , Harvard University and Society member since 2003, will receive the 2024 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science.

Michael Dustin

Trushar Patel

David Weitz

Grants & Opportunities

American Federation for Aging Research: Diana Jacobs Kalman/AFAR Scholarships for Research in the Biology of Aging This scholarship opportunity aims to give students the chance to learn more about the field of aging research, as well as increase their understanding of the challenges involved in improving the quality of life for older people, through a three- to six-month research project focused on biomedical research in aging. Who can apply: Applicants must have completed at least two years of an MD, DO, PhD, or combined degree program by the start date of the award and must be in good standing at a not-for-profit institution in the United States (including universities, medical schools, hospitals, and non-government agencies). Deadline: April 15, 2024 Website: https:/

Wellcome Discovery Awards This opportunity provides funding for established re searchers and teams from any discipline who want to pursue bold and creative research ideas to deliver signif icant shifts in understanding that could improve human life, health, and well-being. Who can apply: Applicants’ host organization must be based in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, or a low- or middle-income country (excluding India and main land China). Deadline: April 16, 2024 Website: https:/ discovery-awards

Student Spotlight

Johannes Stein Harvard Medical School/Wyss Institute What inspired you to study biophysics?

I came across my first biophysics lecture toward the end of my physics bachelor’s program. Atoms forming molecules forming the complex nonequilibrium systems that define all living matter to me seemed the most fascinating problem to tackle with the tools one is equipped with as a physicist.

Johannes Stein

March 2024



Cereer Deveopment

How Do I Find a Good Research Project? A colleague once remarked, “Most advice columns state the obvious; what I really

• Sparks excitement and dedication. The “can’t wait to get back to the lab” feeling, followed eventually by a “ureka!” party. • Offers an often simple/ingenious solution that can be rec ognized as a clear milestone. • Utilizes new but already reliable technology, which is acces sible to you and plays to your strengths. • Facilitates a breakthrough that can be attributed to you/ your team through publications for career advancement. • Provides offshoots, which may be even more fruitful. • Lastly, lets you know when to give up, keeping in mind that there are always valuable lessons learned. Projects are more likely to succeed when they align with the key principles outlined above. However, research projects operate within real-world constraints such as team dynamics, funding availability, and personal skills. Navigating practical limitations like graduation deadlines, the need to find a longer-term posi tion after a postdoc or skill development, etc. are also important, but success often helps to overcome these. While planning helps, intuition and confidence in forward progress are crucial in the unpredictable realm of scientific research. *Even seemingly incremental projects can lead to unexpected breakthroughs. This column emphasizes the role of serendipity in discovery but discourages a roulette-like approach trying many pilot projects in an attempt to land on one. Scientific prog ress often emerges from focused, diligent work rather than ran dom experimentation. Microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur famously stated in an 1854 lecture, “In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.” — Molly Cule

want to understand is how to find a good research project”… and by “good,” she is dreaming about having a breakthrough dis covery—a stepping or foundation stone of a new (sub-)field on which lofty constructions will be built, prizes will be won, etc. So here is that column, where I draw in large part on insights from renowned scientists, who mostly report that while they were driven by intense curiosity, they were often “instinctively stum bling” in a particular direction before they had a breakthrough: finding their “stepping stone.” In an ideal universe, a good research project: • Solves an important problem that interests many, provid ing insights for future discoveries or applications. • Presents a groundbreaking insight, rather than incremen tal progress.* • Sets you apart from the crowd. In some instances, there are “stampedes” of researchers into new territory, other fields are already overcrowded, and other pastures seem already well grazed and are becoming lonely. • Fosters collaboration with supportive colleagues. Sci entific research is a communal effort, blending collab oration, competition, and cross-fertilization with more distant fields.

Support Biophysics • Big or Small • Your Donation Makes a Difference Your tax-deductible donation will help make a difference to the biophysics community. Your donation will help support travel awards, student chapters, public affairs activities, and resources and programs for biophysicists. To donate, please visit

March 2024



Career Development

Upcoming Networking Events The next call for Networking Event applications will be opening on March 15. Check out the website for criteria to start planning your application: https:/ meetings-events/networking-events/criteria-and-submis sion-information. Upcoming events include: 4th Annual Biophysics Colloquium at University of California, Davis Davis, CA, USA April 1, 2024 Current Biophysics Topics in Mexico Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico April 4, 2024 Building Bridges: Carving New Paths for Biophysicists in a Biology Landscape Lisbon, Portugal April 2024 (date to be determined)

Promotion of Quality Education and Research Outputs in Biophysics through Universal Collaboration and Peer Mentorship Kakamega, Kenya May 3, 2024 2024 Costa Rican Biophysics Symposium Heredia, Costa Rica July 26, 2024 Biophysics in Drug Screening Los Angeles, CA, USA September 16, 2024 Virtual Event: Building Bridges in Computational Biophysics v3.0 October 2024 (date to be determined) Not all details and dates for events have been determined at the time of publication. Check ing-networking-events for updates!

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March 2024



Biophysical Society

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March 2024


BPS Important Dates

Tahoe Molecular Biophysics of Membranes BPS Conference Early Registration Deadline March 22, 2024 Biophysical Journal Developmental Biophysics Special Issue Submission Deadline March 31, 2024 Biophysical Journal Point Spread Functions Special Issue Submission Deadline April 15, 2024

BPS Awards and Fellows Nomination Deadline May 1, 2024

Plan to Participate in Biophysics Week 2024 Join us from March 18 to 22, 2024, for the 9th Annual Biophysics Week— an extraordinary global event spotlighting the significance of biophysics in science. Dive into the festivities by joining BPS-sponsored activities, registering for Affiliate Events hosted worldwide, or even organizing your own. Additionally, BPS will provide valuable resources like lesson plans and flyers. For complete details, visit

Biophysical Journal Proton Reactions Special Issue Submission Deadline May 31, 2024

Please visit for a complete list of upcoming BPS Important Dates.

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