Logo - springer
Slogan - springer

Physics - Biophysics & Biological Physics | Journal of Biological Physics - incl. option to publish open access

We’re working on a new version of this journal site - preview it now
Journal of Biological Physics

Journal of Biological Physics

Editors-in-Chief: Sonya Bahar

ISSN: 0092-0606 (print version)
ISSN: 1573-0689 (electronic version)

Journal no. 10867

80,33 € Personal Rate e-only
Get Subscription

Online subscription, valid from January through December of current calendar year

Immediate access to this year's issues via SpringerLink

1 Volume(-s) with 4 issue(-s) per annual subscription

Automatic annual renewal

More information: >> FAQs // >> Policy

Interview with Sonya Bahar

On behalf of International Women's Day 2014

What appealed to you in starting out in your field? 

I wanted to understand the universe, plain and simple. I was driven by a very “existentialist” attitude when I was a student: the world is absurd, and as a conscious being I wanted to explore it as deeply as possible while I could. Having a very materialist bent, this naturally led me to science. When trying to decide what science to go into, I was initially attracted by chemistry, and read a textbook I had borrowed from my school library (reading it by flashlight at night, feeling very “Madame Curie”). But I the part of the book I found most fascinating was the chapter about the Bohr atom, so I soon began to read about the revolution in physics in the 1920s, and fell in love with quantum mechanics. I read A. d’Abro’s The Rise of the New Physics, and the die was cast! When I started my undergraduate studies (in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia), I was determined to go into theoretical particle physics (isn’t everyone?). But in my senior year (1990-1991) I began to learn about nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory. I read James Gleick’s beautiful popular science book Chaos: the Making of a New Science, and had the opportunity to do my senior thesis working with Robert Gilmore, a pioneer in chaos theory who was then exploring the internal structure of chaotic attractors. At the same time, I “re-discovered” biology, which I had basically ignored since high school. I began to think about the possibility of combining nonlinear dynamics with biology. I was moving toward the idea of complex systems (and was very inspired by a talk that Stuart Kauffman gave at Drexel as a guest of our Society of Physics Students), but the link between dynamics and biology was so new at the time that I was flying blind, trying to find my way into a field that hardly existed yet. I decided to pursue graduate studies in Biophysics at the University of Rochester, and worked with Phil Knauf on anion exchange in blood cells; it was a very “wet lab biochemistry” dissertation, and while it was fascinating to learn a new field of science, I missed mathematics and physics. Gradually, during postdoctoral work, I figured out what research areas had the most exciting mixture of nonlinear dynamics and biophysics. Since 1997 I have been working on dynamics in biological systems, initially with cardiac dynamics and neural synchronization, and now with dynamics and phase transitions in evolutionary models. For me, it’s a perfect balance.

Can you recall any women colleagues, mentors or pioneers of your field you drew or continue to draw inspiration from? How might they have inspired change in your field? 

I wish I could give a clear “yes” answer to the first of these questions, but I can’t. As a child, I was inspired, as are so many young women, by the story of Madame Curie (and watched a brilliant BBC series on her life in the late 1970s). I was very inspired by a chemistry teacher, Charlotte Hameka, when I was in high school; but I was equally inspired by my physics teacher, William Sweeney, so I think it was more the personalities of these wonderful teachers rather than their genders that made them important to me. As a student, I knew very successful women researchers (Joan Centrella at Drexel and Ingrid Sarelius at Rochester). All that being said, most of the physicists I read about (and studied with) were men, and I set off in science with the expectation that I would be a scientist alongside my male colleagues, and that gender would have nothing to do with my intellectual work. My father was a professor of mechanical engineering (he really worked on classical mechanics, for the most part), and he was always very encouraging of me, and never considered the possibility that my gender would impede my career. I had several wonderful mentors as an undergraduate who were men (Bob Gilmore and Lorenzo Narducci). I became much more aware of gender issues when I was a graduate student. I saw a close friend hospitalized with anorexia and realized with horrifying clarity how societal demands can twist the mental energy of young women away from fighting to explore and improve the world, and dissipate all that energy in self-hatred. I saw how that poison had affected me as well; that enraged me and I wanted to fight against it. I also saw gender bias in a way I had not experienced as an undergraduate: one professor called me a “wench”, and another commented, after a visiting seminar speaker had given an energetic and exciting talk on her research, “She must have a lot of testosterone to be running a big lab like that.” It was experiences like that that led me to read in more depth about the women’s rights movement, and to become a feminist. I was very inspired by writers like Susan Sontag and Kate Millett. Their exploration of the creative process, in others and in themselves, was immensely liberating to me, and provided a creative freedom that I have tried to bring into my own work.

What can we look forward to this year in regards to your journal’s content or development? 

This year, we are planning to add several new members to the JOBP board, in order to expand our expertise in systems biology, quantum/density functional calculations, and the applications of statistical mechanics in the study of molecular structure. This will help the journal continue to grow in some of the most exciting and cutting-edge areas of biological physics. We are hoping to highlight as well some advances in the biological physics of DNA translocation, and the role of biological physics in the quest for a “$1000 genome”. JOBP has a long tradition of publishing special issues on important current topics, and we hope to publish an issue on polymer translocation and sequencing in 2014, guest-edited by our Editorial Board member Tapio Ala-Nissila.

For authors and editors

  • Journal Citation Reports®
    2018 Impact Factor
  • 0.857
  • Aims and Scope

    Aims and Scope


    Many physicists are turning their attention to domains that were not traditionally part of physics and are applying the sophisticated tools of theoretical, computational and experimental physics to investigate biological processes, systems and materials.

    The Journal of Biological Physics provides a medium where this growing community of scientists can publish its results and discuss its aims and methods. It welcomes papers which use the tools of physics in an innovative way to study biological problems, as well as research aimed at providing a better understanding of the physical principles underlying biological processes.

    All areas of biological physics can be addressed, from the molecular level, through the mesoscale of membranes and cells, up to the macroscopic level of a population of living organisms, the main criteria of acceptance being the physical content of the research and its relevance to biological systems. In order to increase the links between physics and biology and among the various fields of biological physics, authors are advised to include a first section that introduces the basic issues addressed and the primary achievements to a non-specialist reader.

    In addition to original peer-reviewed research papers, the Journal of Biological Physics publishes Short Notes, Perspectives and Review Papers. Book reviews are also welcome.

  • Submit Online
  • Open Choice - Your Way to Open Access
  • Instructions for Authors
  • Author Tools (LaTex)

    Author tools to prepare your article


  • Author Academy: Training for Authors
  • English Language Editing

    English Language Editing


  • Copyright Information

    Copyright Information


    Copyright Information

    For Authors

    Submission of a manuscript implies: that the work described has not been published before (except in form of an abstract or as part of a published lecture, review or thesis); that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere; that its publication has been approved by all co-authors, if any, as well as – tacitly or explicitly – by the responsible authorities at the institution where the work was carried out.

    Author warrants (i) that he/she is the sole owner or has been authorized by any additional copyright owner to assign the right, (ii) that the article does not infringe any third party rights and no license from or payments to a third party is required to publish the article and (iii) that the article has not been previously published or licensed. The author signs for and accepts responsibility for releasing this material on behalf of any and all co-authors. Transfer of copyright to Springer (respective to owner if other than Springer) becomes effective if and when a Copyright Transfer Statement is signed or transferred electronically by the corresponding author. After submission of the Copyright Transfer Statement signed by the corresponding author, changes of authorship or in the order of the authors listed will not be accepted by Springer.

    The copyright to this article, including any graphic elements therein (e.g. illustrations, charts, moving images), is assigned for good and valuable consideration to Springer effective if and when the article is accepted for publication and to the extent assignable if assignability is restricted for by applicable law or regulations (e.g. for U.S. government or crown employees).

    The copyright assignment includes without limitation the exclusive, assignable and sublicensable right, unlimited in time and territory, to reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, make available and store the article, including abstracts thereof, in all forms of media of expression now known or developed in the future, including pre- and reprints, translations, photographic reproductions and microform. Springer may use the article in whole or in part in electronic form, such as use in databases or data networks for display, print or download to stationary or portable devices. This includes interactive and multimedia use and the right to alter the article to the extent necessary for such use.

    Authors may self-archive the Author's accepted manuscript of their articles on their own websites. Authors may also deposit this version of the article in any repository, provided it is only made publicly available 12 months after official publication or later. He/she may not use the publisher's version (the final article), which is posted on SpringerLink and other Springer websites, for the purpose of self-archiving or deposit. Furthermore, the Author may only post his/her version provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication and a link is inserted to the published article on Springer's website. The link must be accompanied by the following text: "The final publication is available at link.springer.com".

    Prior versions of the article published on non-commercial pre-print servers like arXiv.org can remain on these servers and/or can be updated with Author's accepted version. The final published version (in pdf or html/xml format) cannot be used for this purpose. Acknowledgement needs to be given to the final publication and a link must be inserted to the published article on Springer's website, accompanied by the text "The final publication is available at link.springer.com". Author retains the right to use his/her article for his/her further scientific career by including the final published journal article in other publications such as dissertations and postdoctoral qualifications provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication.

    Author is requested to use the appropriate DOI for the article. Articles disseminated via link.springer.com are indexed, abstracted and referenced by many abstracting and information services, bibliographic networks, subscription agencies, library networks, and consortia.

    For Readers

    While the advice and information in this journal is believed to be true and accurate at the date of its publication, neither the authors, the editors, nor the publisher can accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher makes no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein.

    All articles published in this journal are protected by copyright, which covers the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the article (e.g., as offprints), as well as all translation rights. No material published in this journal may be reproduced photographically or stored on microfilm, in electronic data bases, video disks, etc., without first obtaining written permission from the publisher (respective the copyright owner if other than Springer). The use of general descriptive names, trade names, trademarks, etc., in this publication, even if not specifically identified, does not imply that these names are not protected by the relevant laws and regulations.

    Springer has partnered with Copyright Clearance Center's RightsLink service to offer a variety of options for reusing Springer content. For permission to reuse our content please locate the material that you wish to use on link.springer.com or on springerimages.com and click on the permissions link or go to copyright.com, then enter the title of the publication that you wish to use. For assistance in placing a permission request, Copyright Clearance Center can be connected directly via phone: +1-855-239-3415, fax: +1-978-646-8600, or e-mail: info@copyright.com.

    © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Alerts for this journal


Get the table of contents of every new issue published in Journal of Biological Physics.