cell fate (320x240)
Following the post infection decision of phage lambda (L. Zeng)

Research Interest: Using Physical Principles to Understand Living Systems

In our lab, we examine the way living cells process information from their environment and make decisions based on that information.

Our aim is to form a quantitative narrative for the dynamics of cellular decision-making and unveil simple principles that underlie such processes. Our first model system is the bacterium E. coli and its virus, phage lambda. We examine their complex interaction at the level of individual events in space and time. More recently, we have begun to extend our studies to higher organisms.

Following Drosophila transcription  (320x240)
Following transcription in a Drosophila embryo (H. Xu; strain gift of H. Garcia, Berkeley)

Work in the lab involves a set of skills broader than what is generally mastered within a single discipline, including the techniques of molecular- and cell biology; live single-cell microscopy for making quantitative measurements; and data analysis using the engineer's toolbox of signal- and image processing; all accompanied by the theoretical tools of dynamical systems theory, stochastic processes, non-equilibrium phenomena and more.

The practice of modern in vivo biology, combined with the intellectual effort of a quantitative approach, will contribute significantly to a young scientist's training experience, better preparing them for the future world of "Systems Biology".