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Why QSB?
Quantitative and Systems Biology aims to accelerate the pace at which paradigm-shifting discoveries transform biology.
Masters of Discovery
Innovative By Design

New Concentration Available

QSB is the graduate program for the biological sciences. It is the largest graduate program at UC Merced, and it is highly integrative and interdisciplinary. The QSB curriculum is tailored to the student’s needs and research interests. The program now offers degrees with elective concentrations in Molecular and Cellular Biology (biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, immunology, microbiology, neurobiology, physiology), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Computational and Theoretical Biology (new for 2023). Concentration students form a cohort with shared training; the name of the concentration will appear on your transcript and degree.

Accelerating Biological Discovery Through Innovation

Whether your passion is to reduce human suffering from disease, mitigate climate-change effects on ecosystems, or advance how we understand, explain and predict living systems, your career will benefit from the unique competitive advantages of a QSB degree.

Featured Faculty

Quantitative and Systems Biology Professor Chris Amemiya
Genetic basis and EvoDevo of vertebrate innovations
QSB Professor David Ardell
The Ardell Laboratory at UC Merced is a computational biology lab that uses machine learning, data science and multi-scale theoretical models to...
Associate Professor
Computational biology and evolution of gene expression mechanisms
QSB Professor Miriam Barlow
Experimental evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria
QCB Professor Laura Beaster-Jones
Associate Teaching Professor
QSB Professor Michael Beman
Associate Professor
Microbial ecology and biogeochemical cycling in the oceans
QSB Professor Gordon M. Bennett
Associate Professor
Evolution of animal-microbial symbioses
QSB Professor Jessica Blois
Associate Professor
Terrestrial paleoecology, niche and community modeling and phylochronology
QSB Professor Wei-Chun Chin
Polymer physics and engineering of cellular and environmental systems
QSB Professor Michael Cleary
Associate Professor
Post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression during nervous system development
QSB Professor Mike Colvin
Classical molecular dynamics is the simulation of chemicals using the simplest atomistic model where each atom is a tiny mass with a charge interconnected...
Classical molecular dynamics simulations of flexible proteins and nucleic acids.
QSB Professor Michael Dawson
Biogeography, evolutionary ecology, and comparative genomics.
QSB Professor Eva de Alba
Dr. Eva de Alba is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering. The de Alba Lab focuses on basic and applied research, learning from our studies on protein...
Associate Professor
Molecular and mechanistic bases of cellular processes essential to life from a biochemical and biophysics perspective.
QSB Professor Betsy Dumont
The goal of Dumont's research is to understand the evolution of diversity in form and function in animals. Her approach has been to synthesize...
Professor and Dean
Research focuses on understanding the relationships between morphology, behavior and performance in a variety of vertebrates including bat, carnivoran and avian species.
QSB Professor Bercem Dutagaci
Assistant Professor
Molecular dynamics simulations and machine learning modeling of biomolecular systems with a focus on RNA polymerase dynamics, function, and spatial organizations.
QSB Professor Roberto Andresen Eguiluz
Assistant Professor
Understanding how molecular interactions and forces across several length scales affect function in biology
QSB Professor Ariel Escobar
Calcium in cardiac cellular signaling and techniques to study cardiac cells in vivo
QSB Professor A. Carolin Frank
It is now widely recognized that microbiomes dictate many traits of their host. For example, the plant microbiome can act as a second immune system,...
Associate Professor
Plant microbiomes; function, community assembly, transmission, and dispersal.
QSB Professor Marcos Garcia-Ojeda
Associate Teaching Professor
Discipline-Based Education Research, didactic methods, microbiology
QSB Professor Xuecai Ge
We are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of neurodevelopment and its related diseases, focusing on the primary cilium, an antenna-like...
Assistant Professor
Cell signaling in neural development, brain tumors and neurological disorders
QSB Professor Arvind Gopinath
Assistant Professor
The focus of the Gopinath Lab is to combine experimental observations with minimal analytical models, phenomenological mesoscale theories and agent-based discrete computations to understand the origin of function in living matter at scales ranging from the molecular to multicellular.
QSB Professor Ajay Gopinathan
Theory at the interface of biophysics and soft condensed matter physics
QSB Professor Juris Grasis
Dr. Juris Grasis leads a research team utilizing viral metagenomics to investigate viral ecology and evolution in host-associated systems. Further, the...
Assistant Professor
Viral metagenomics, systems immunology, microbiome regulation, viral/antiviral discovery
QSB Professor Aaron Hernday
Assistant Professor
Epigenetic and transcriptional networks and metabolic engineering of yeasts
Professor Linda Hirst
Experimental soft matter physics and biophysics
QSB Professor Katrina Hoyer
Associate Professor
Immunological tolerance and auto-immune disease, regulatory T cells
QSB Professor Kirk Jensen
Associate Professor
Parasite pathogenesis and immunology, toxoplasma and host-immune responses
QSB Professor Shilpa Khatri
The focus of the Khatri Lab is fluid dynamics arising in the context of biological and marine phenomena, such as the transport of nutrients, organisms,...
Associate Professor
Numerical Analysis, Fluid Dynamics, Applied Math, Applications in Biology and Oceanography
Professor Sora Kim
Sora Kim interested with how organisms interact with their environment in both modern and ancient ecosystems. Her primary tool is stable isotope analysis...
Assistant Professor
Ecogeochemistry, interactions between environmental change and biotic response
Professor Petra Kranzfelder
Assistant Teaching Professor
Discipline-Based Education Research, biology teaching and learning methods, entomology and aquatic ecology
Professor Changqing Li
Associate Professor
Cancer imaging, cancer therapy, fluorescence molecular tomography, x-ray imaging, biomedical imaging system and algorithm
Quantitative and Systems Biology Professor Bin Liu
Assistant Professor
Transport of microorganisms in complex environments, mechanics of biological media and mechanical metamaterials
QSB Professor Patricia LiWang
Professor Patricia LiWang has been at UC Merced since 2008, and works on protein biochemistry and structural biology. Her work involves proteins that have...
The P. LiWang Lab uses protein biochemistry to study HIV prevention, HIV eradication, and anti-inflammatory strategies.
QSB Professor Gabriella Loots
Adjunct Associate Professor
Limb and skeletal development, genetics of bone metabolism, transcriptomics
QSB Professor Jennifer Manilay
Developmental immunology, cell fate regulation, hematopoiesis
Stefan C. Materna
Assistant Professor
Genomic control of gene expression, gene regulatory networks in organismal development.
QSB Professor Kara McCloskey
Associate Professor
Stem cell and tissue engineering for regenerative medicine applications
QSB Professor Emily Jane McTavish
Assistant Professor
Large scale evolutionary inference Data that can be used to answer evolutionary questions is being generated on unprecedented scales. How can we take advantage of evolutionary information in large data sets, in a way that is biologically informed, statistically rigorous and computationally efficient? We apply these techniques to data in a range of biological systems, from disease outbreaks, to cattle and humans, to the entire tree of life!
QSB Professor Emily Moran
Associate Professor
Evolutionary ecology of plant responses to environmental change
Professor Victor Muñoz
Structural Biology, Computational Biochemistry and Protein Engineering: Protein Folding, Function and Disease; Molecular Mechanisms of Gene Expression, Fluorescence Biosensors, Molecular Diagnostics
Professor Michele Nishiguchi
Host-microbe interactions and microbial ecology. My research as an evolutionary microbiologist spans the bridge between microbial ecology and the evolution of beneficial associations and is best known for deciphering the mechanisms for bacterial specificity that occur in animal hosts.
QSB Professor Clarissa Nobile
Research in the Nobile lab is directed towards understanding the molecular and mechanistic bases of microbial communities. We are interested in...
Associate Professor and Kamangar Family Chair in Biological Sciences
Molecular development of microbial communities, biofilm formation
QSB Professor Rudy Ortiz
Insulin resistance; cardiorenal and metabolic disorders; comparative physiology of Northern Elephant Seals.
QSB Professor Néstor Oviedo
Stem cell regulation, cancer and regeneration in planarians
QSB Professor Scott Roy
Assistant Adjunct Professor
Molecular evolution, gene/genome structure, intragenomic conflict, balancing selection, sex chromosomes and determination
QSB Professor Erica Rutter
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Image Analysis, Mathematical Modeling, Machine Learning, Cancer Treatment and Resistance
QSB Professor Ramen Saha
Associate Professor
Epigenetics of neuronal gene expression during brain development & function
QSB Professor Jason Sexton
Associate Professor
Plant adaptation, species range limits biological invasions and evolutionary conservation science
Applied Math Professor Suzanne S. Sindi
Mathematical biology, dynamical systems and computational biology and bioinformatics
QSB Professor Mark Sistrom
Assistant Professor
We study evolutionary hypotheses in bacterial and viral systems using a combination of computational and laboratory genomic approaches
Cognitive Science Professor Paul Smaldino
Assistant Professor
Population dynamics, social and cultural evolution, self-organization, mathematical and computational modeling
QSB Professor E. Maggie Sogin
Assistant Professor
Exploration into how microorganisms use molecules to interact with their eukaryotic hosts and their environment. The Sogin lab employs a cross-disciplinary approach that combines metabolomic and meta'omic analyses with experimental and computational analyses.
Professor Joel Spencer
Professor Spencer seeks to to develop novel optical imaging and sensing systems for studying tissue regeneration, hematopoiesis, cancer, and beyond.
Assistant Professor
The Spencer lab is involved in engineering new optical imaging technologies and using these technologies to study, in vivo, the microenvironments and cellular dynamics within tissues.
Professor Anand Bala Subramaniam
Associate Professor
Synthetic Biology, Soft Matter Physics, Colloid and Interface Science, Microfabrication and Microfluidics
Shahar Sukenik
Assistant Professor
Biophysical chemistry, structural biology; Understanding the interplay between proteins and their environment by combining biophysical methods and live cell microscopy
QSB Professor Mike Thompson
Professor Thompson is a California native, was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley (2007), received his Ph.D. from UCLA (2014), and was a postdoctoral fellow...
Assistant Professor
Molecular motion is critical for protein function, but it remains challenging to study the structural dynamics of complex molecules in atomic detail. My goal is to develop new types of structural and biophysical experiments that transcend the limitations of traditional techniques, allowing us to map structural interconversions at high spatial and temporal resolution.
Professor Susannah Tringe
DOE Joint Genome Institute/Associate Adjunct Professor
Sequence-based approaches to studying microbial community assembly, function and dynamics
Professor Axel Visel
Adjunct Professor
Human functional genomics and enhancers in development and disease
Professor Zhong Wang
Associate Adjunct Professor
Applications of high-performance computing to big-sequencing data and machine learning
QSB Professor Fred Wolf
We are interested in how an animal with a specific history and internal state responds to cues in a stereotyped manner. We use unbiased phenotypic and...
Associate Professor and Grad Chair
Genetic and neural coding of behavior in Drosophila
QSB Professor Stephanie Woo
Assistant Professor
Tissue morphogenesis, Control of cell migration and cell adhesion during development
Adjunct Associate Professor Tanja Woyke
Adjunct Associate Professor
Research in the Woyke laboratory focuses on the utility of single-cell methods to access genetic material of uncultivated taxa of interest. One such effort is targeted at environmental cells that are from candidate phyla, major branches in the phylogenetic tree without cultivated representatives
Professor Jing Xu
Associate Professor
Experimental biophysics, quantitative biology single-molecule analysis of molecular motors
Professor Justin Yeakel
Associate Professor
Animal foraging and food web dynamics over space and time
Professor Maria-Elena Zoghbi
Assistant Professor
Structural, biochemical and functional studies of membrane transport proteins

Our Research

The QSB graduate program trains students in quantitative and interdisciplinary biology research, with particular emphasis on Molecular and Cell Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Systems and Synthetic Biology, and Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics.


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Our Facilities

QSB researchers access top-notch facilities including the Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry (SCIF), a shared high-performance computing (HPC) cluster for Multi-Environment Research Computer for Exploration and Discovery (MERCED), and a shared Illumina MiSeq.

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Featured News

Quantitative and Systems Biology Ph.D. student Christi Turner
June 8, 2023

Christi Turner will represent UC Merced and join Nobel laureates from around the world at the 2023 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, June 25-30 in Germany. Turner, a Quantitative and Systems Biology Ph....

Brianna Aguilar-Solis
May 25, 2023

UC Merced students Brianna Aguilar-Solis, Diane-Marie Brache-Smith, Sierra Lema and Sarif Morningstar, and alumni Diana Cruz Garcia and Anna Maria Calderon were awarded fellowships from the National...

Professor Sora Kim
May 16, 2023

Professor Sora Kim has received a CAREER award for her project that bridges concepts between modern and ancient marine ecosystems by integrating geochemical and modeling approaches with paleobiology...

Quantitative and Systems Biology

Advances in techniques and theory that bridge molecular and ecosystems scales have greatly enabled the potential for integration across the life sciences. Biologists' ability to gather and process large amounts of quantitative data in field and laboratory settings is advancing hand-in-hand with theory and modeling that better explain the diversity of life on Earth.