Biophysics uses physical methods to study biological systems and the field can be broadly divided into three main fields: molecular, cellular, and systems biophysics.

At Berkeley, molecular biophysicists detect and manipulate single molecules to elucidate molecular motors, protein folding, polymer (biopolymer) physics, single molecule rheology, dynamics of complex processes such as transcription, replication, translation, etc. Cellular biophysicists look at molecular mechanisms of channel gating, the design and building of alternative chemical network wiring inside cells, the imaging of fundamental cell processes, and they create computational models of cellular metabolic control and molecular switches.

The field of systems biophysics, also represented in the Physics Department at Berkeley, aims at describing collective phenomena and addresses evolutionary and ecological dynamics of populations, biofilm development, sensory studies, neural development, synapse organization, neural transmission, as well as the functional imaging of the brain and spatio-temporal coordination of movement.