There are known knowns i.e. things we know that we know. There are known unknowns, things that we know we don’t know. And there are also unknown unknowns, things we don’t know we don’t know.

Figure 1. Highly intuitive representation of our current understanding of the biological world

Knowledge and information are endless so quantifying knowns and unknowns is futile. But if we were to do it, intuitively it seems that of all scientific disciplines, a fraction of unknowns to knowns could be the highest in Biology. And a tiny fraction of the knowns has immensely improved our understanding of biology in and around us and helped make tremendous progress in healthcare. Therefore, apart from the satisfaction of scientific curiosity, a simple motivation behind pursuing a biological question is a possibility of big impact it can have.

Why specifically Biophysics?

Biophysics is a broad discipline which seeks to investigate biological systems using physical and mathematical tools. Here are some of my favorite reasons for choosing Biophysics for career : 

  • It is quantitativeI love numbers. Making sense of tons of data that are generated in a biophysical measurement or modeling a particular process is a lot of fun!
  • It involves instrumentation:  Making a customized instrument or tinkering with an existing one for your measurements is not only fun but it also massively tunes your understanding about critical physical and chemical phenomena. Method development in cryo-EM is one of my immediate primary interests.
  • It involves bench-work: If you are an experimental biophysicist, you will be dabbling with the usual bench-work stuff which is another thing I love about doing science. Being able to perform and develop extensive protocols and incrementally troubleshoot when they don't work, can be extremely tiring, but almost always ends up being fun.
  • Simple questions but tough investigations:  Simplest questions and their answers tend to have the most profound scientific impact and the core nature of biophysics allows for asking such simple questions. E.g., what is the structure of an important membrane protein? How does a critical DNA binding protein recognize DNA?
  • The interdisciplinary and heterogeneous nature of biophysics is an excellent insulator against possibilities of boredom. If bench-work starts boring me, I can switch to writing codes, and when codes start to bore, I can tinker with the instruments and then back to bench-work. And the cycle continues.