December 2021 QCB Newsletter

With 2021 ending, the QCB Department concludes its first year as a department. We now have six new tenure-track faculty members. Everyone who has already joined is very well funded. I want to warmly welcome Dr. Jazlyn Mooney who will join us from Stanford in January 2022.

We had a successful departmental retreat with everyone being back together. Our PhD students, Master’s students, and Postdocs presented fantastic research talks and posters. And we used the in-person retreat to strengthen our community.

I want to thank everyone, our students, parents, donors, postdocs, staff, and faculty for everything you have done to make this first year of the QCB Department a success. If there is anyone who wants to supports us, everything helps:

Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year to you and your families!

Remo Rohs, Ph.D.

QCB Department Chair

QCB Departmental Retreat

The QCB Departmental Retreat was held on November 19-20, 2021, in Ventura, CA. This gave the graduate students, Master's students, postdocs, staff and faculty an opportunity to hear about the research that each lab is doing, and get to know each other better.

QCB Faculty

Dr. Stacey Finley will be a Visiting Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), a university in Lausanne, Switzerland. from January through July 2022. This is part of Dr. Finley’s sabbatical leave and is partially supported by the NSF. She will be hosted by Professor Michele De Palma, whose lab focuses on characterizing immune cell states in the context of cancer.

Dr. Steve Kay represented QCB on the Science Advisory Committee of the 2021 USC Massry Prize, which was awarded to the three quantitative biologists pioneering in the field of “ancient DNA”: Svante Paabo, Max Planck Institute Leipzig for Neanderthal genome sequence; David Reich, Harvard University, for statistical genetic definitions of ancient migration and admixture; Liran Carmel, Weizmann Institute of Science, for the first ancient epigenome analysis.

The PNAS study by Fengzhu Sun and his Ph.D. student Zifan Zhu was featured in Dornsife Research Briefs, see “Deep Learning Inference Using Knockoffs” post here (

Published in Nature on December 15 (, he paper from the Katritch lab, led by postdocs Anastasiia and Arman Sadybekov, describes the new modular approach to computer-assisted drug-discovery, called V-SYNTHES, which enables fast virtual screening of giga- and even tera-scale compound libraries (see Dornsife News here).

Steve Kay, Seva Katritch, Paul Thomas, and Arthur Toga have been included in the Highly Cited Researchers list from Web of Science (Clarivate) 2021. The list identifies scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade.

QCB Book Club

Featuring Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos by Steven Strogatz, this book club will convene once a month to discuss established paradigms and analytic techniques in mathematical modeling, and showcase recent development in methods and applications in addressing key biological questions. First meeting, Thursday January 20, 2022 11 a.m.-12 p.m., RRI 421 and zoom. All are welcome!

Departmental Seminars

Dr. Laura Melissa Guzman, Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California "Using occupancy-detection models to analyze historical data, a case study of bumble bees in North America."

January 13, 2022, 2:00-3:00 p.m., RRI 101

Dr. Brnilda Balliu, Computational Medicine Fellow, Department of Computational Medicine, UCLA "Fast and powerful context-dependent eQTL mapping improves functional contextualization of genetic variation." January 20, 2022, 2:00-3:00 p.m., RRI 101 Dr. Srinivas Aluru, Professor, School of Computational Science and Engineering within the College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology "Genome graphs: Models, Algorithms, and Applications." January 27, 2022, 2:00-3:00 p.m., RRI 101

Postdoctoral Positions Open

The Edge Lab is accepting postdoctoral applications in evolutionary genetics ( Postdoctoral positions in 3D genome biology are open in the Fudenberg Research Group ( The Katritch Lab is accepting postdoctoral applications in structural bioinformatics and drug discovery (

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