Making Sense of Biological Designs

We are curious about how biological systems are built. We want to understand the engineering principles and molecular mechanisms of how things are built and how things function. In the lab, we study multiple scales of biological organisation, from small protein circuits, signaling pathways, developmental programs, to organisms. We enjoy using various tools, such as paper-and-pencil mathematical modeling, computer simulation, biochemistry, single-cell imaging, histology, molecular biology, experiments in frog embryos, and lately, some cutting and grinding experiments in jellies.

Check out our Systems Biology Program at Caltech!

Photograph by X. Wang 01
16 to 32 cell stage 02
Moon Jelly 03


June 13, 2016

And it’s summer time again.  We welcome Laura Ratliff, a rising senior from Flintridge Prep, returning to the lab this time to learn to clone and make movies of cells.  We also welcome a new technician in the lab, Andrew Liu, who graduated from Cal and joined the lab to tackle the b-catenin project with Kibeom.  We have great hopes for him.

January 5, 2016

Happy New Year!  Check out Noah’s new website at

December 15, 2015

We have an opening for a lab tech.  If you are a college graduate looking for more lab experience, consider applying to us.  Click here for project description.

August 25, 2015

We got interviewed again!  This time by the NPR Big Picture Science.  Click here to listen to Lea and Michael explaining symmetrization to Molly Bentley and Seth Shostak, a Caltech alumnus himself.

August 5, 2015

We are sad Clare is leaving.  She has been such a great presence in the lab.  But we are  happy that she’s going to an exciting Master program in Regenerative Stem Cells at USC.  Here is a toast to the bright future ahead!

August 3, 2015

Goodbye Alcina, Beatriz, and Laura.  They spent 5 weeks in the lab as a part of the Summer Research Connection program from the Caltech Teaching, Learning, and Outreach Center.  We enjoyed having them in the lab, and learnt a great deal from their questions and curiosity.  Alcina and Beatriz are brave  high school students who plunged straight into doing embryo and FISH experiments with Chris, Harry, and Tom.  Laura O’Dell teaches middle school students at the STEAM Academy at Burke, and this summer, she has developed several awesome lesson plans based on ongoing research projects in our lab.  It’s really inspiring to see how she translates what we think is so complicated into simple lessons young students can understand, along with fun activities to demonstrate the insights.  She will continue visiting our lab beyond the summer, so we look forward to continue learning from her.