Laufer Center Physical & Quantitative Biology PhD Program

Physical & quantitative biologists explore principles of biology by harnessing the power of physics, mathematics, chemistry and computer science. The skills you learn here will enable you to model biological processes, discover new medicines, probe evolutionary relationships and principles, design nano-bio devices, and engineer new organisms for creating renewable chemicals, fuels, and drugs. Our program allows you to strengthen your skills as a physicist, chemist, or applied mathematician at the same time you deepen your understanding of biology.  For our perspective, see the Welcome to the Laufer Center Opening event.

Is the Laufer Center PQB program right for you?

Our program focuses on principles, modeling and simulations as a route to insight in biology.  We believe in the importance of coupling theory with experiments and in the importance of evolutionary principles. Our program gives all our students − whether from physics, math, computation or chemistry − options for learning the full breadth of the physical-science tools of the trade, including physical model-making, computational structural biology, bionformatics and genomics, systems biology and dynamics. And, in conjunction with the Stony Brook University's Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, we help our students acquire the strongest possible career and communication skills.  

You can choose your PhD research advisor from among our 16 Laufer Center faculty across Stony Brook, Cold Spring Harbor and Brookhaven National Labs.

Stony Brook University has a world-class scientific environment that includes highly ranked departments in the disciplines at the interface between the life and physical sciences, and an outstanding Medical School on the same campus. We have strong ties to neighboring institutions – Brookhaven National Labs and Cold Spring Harbor. Taken together, our three institutions account for 18 Nobel Prizes over the past half century. 

The Laufer Center is designed to foster scientific interactions and collaborations, through a state-of-the-art video-conferencing facilities, our own 72-seat auditorium, and our Laufer Hub, a great little lounge for eating, meeting, greeting or just hanging out.  We have regular seminars by leaders of physical and quantitative biology from around the world. These get-togethers are a great opportunity to understand new perspectives and to develop your network.

How do you apply?

Depending upon your interest there are different academic paths for entering the Laufer Center PQB program. The following departments provide a gateway to the program.  For information on applying visit one of these sites:

Physics apply at Stony Brook Physics Department

Math or Computer Science apply at SBU Department of Applied Math & Statistics

Chemistry apply at SBU Chemistry Department

Biology apply to either

  • Molecular & Cellular Biology or
  • Biochemistry & Structural Biology or
  • Biomedical Engineering

  • What coursework will you take?

    The detailed course requirements are given here.  In short, you will take some courses that are specific to your home department (Physics, Chemistry, Applied Math & Statistics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, or Biochemistry and Structural Biology).  You will take other courses in Physical & Quantitative Biology, such as the following:  

    In addition, you'll take an introduction and overview of PQB (iPQB), a basic introduction to biology, a journal club, and a course on leadership, career skills and how to communicate science. And, in your first year, you'll do rotations in a few research labs of your choice, to help you choose the lab for your PhD research.  This curriculum provides the background you need in biology, even if have not had much before.

    Stony Brook University is a thriving seaside academic community in a beautiful wooded New-England-like environment, only a 90-minute train ride away from New York City. We welcome your application for our Laufer Center PhD program in physical & quantitative biology.