The lab

Gerald Quon, Principal Investigator

Gerald Quon is a Canadi(eh)n Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at UC Davis. Previously, he was a postdoc at MIT and the Broad Institute, building models to predict the mechanism of action of genetic variants associated with obesity and Alzheimer’s Disease. He completed his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Toronto under Quaid Morris, where his research focused on developing models to deconvolute gene expression profiles of heterogeneous cell populations, in order to improve personalized medicine in cancer. He also holds a MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Toronto, as well as an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo.


Nelson Johansen, CS PhD student

Nelson is a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science. His current research interests include learning the relationship between gene expression, physiological and morphological properties defining cell state in order to identify abnormalities underlying complex diseases. His previous research focused on the integration of scRNA data from multiple studies and differential expression at the resolution of individual cells. Outside the lab, he enjoys growing a seasonal garden and spending time outdoors with Freyja.

Ruoxin Li, Biostats PhD student

Rita is a Ph.D student in Biostatistics. She has a keen interest in developing statistical tools, in particular generative models, to reveal and interpret novel biological insight from genomics data. In her personal time, she also enjoys watercolor, digital illustration and hiking.


Yongin Choi, BME PhD student

Yongin is a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering department, and joined the lab in Spring 2018. His current project focuses on learning the key regulatory mechanism responsible for change and maintenance of cell state. In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis, board games, and eating great food that others have prepared for him.

Arielle Yoo, BME PhD student

Arielle recently graduated mid-pandemic with a B.S. in Bioengineering, Bioinformatics from UCSD. She previously worked with Dr. Ludmil Alexandrov on analyzing paired tumor-normal sequencing data to find common mutations predictive of cancer risk. She is excited to work at the intersection of machine learning, genetics and human health, and hopes to apply her computer science skills and bioengineering background to neuroscience.

Jing Lyu, Biostats PhD student

Jing is a PhD student in Biostatistics. Her research interests include developing robust feature selection strategies and investigating novel deep learning methods for improving predictive modeling in complex trait genetics and functional genomics. She loves cooking and enjoys spicy foods, especially hotpot. Doing workouts at gym or home is part of her daily routine.

Hongru Hu, IGG PhD student

Hongru is a PhD student in the IGG program. He has experience in applying neurogenetic and genomic tools to discover the function of neural circuits underlying animal behaviors and would love to develop computational methods for bridging the genotype-phenotype gap to answer specific biological questions. He likes exploring national parks in his spare time.

Xinzhe (Jason) Li, Junior Specialist

Xinzhe is a recent graduate from the Cell Biology program of UC Davis who enjoys exploring the use of machine learning for solving biological problems. He loves traveling the world and spending time with friends and family. Cooking and martial art training might be his favorite activities when he occasionally has a life outside of school and lab.

Saja Alayadhi, CS MS student

Saja is a Master’s student in the Department of Computer Science. She is interested in machine learning and interdisciplinary research. She enjoys walking, hiking and drinking coffee.

Bohao Zou, Biostats MS student

Bohao is a Master’s student in the Graduate Group in Biostatistics. He enjoys learning about and applying statistics and machine learning algorithms.

Nasim Zeighami, G&G undergraduate

Nasim is a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Genetics and Genomics, and is a part of the University Honors Program. She is excited to apply various computational methods to human genetics research in order to analyze genomic variants of specific disorders. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, camping, hiking, baking, and spending time with friends/family.

Ryan Buchner, G&G undergraduate

Ryan is a 4th year undergraduate Genetics-Genomics and Data Science student with interest in applying statistical methods to biological data sets. In his free time, he likes to be outside as much as possible, whether that be camping, gardening, or playing sports.

Soumil Shekdar, CS undergraduate

Soumil is a junior studying Computer Science & Engineering at UC Davis. He loves the logical and enabling nature of programming, but at the same time, hopes to impact the world more directly, so his interests lie in the applications of Computer Science to Healthcare, Drug Discovery, and Biology. By developing machine learning models that reason and are interpretable, he hopes to facilitate cooperative work between people and AI which is needed to solve abstract problems.

Apurva Mishra, Davis Senior High student

Apurva is a junior in Davis Senior High School. He is deeply interested in exploring the intersection of computer science and biology, and the great opportunities the field provides. A favorite quote of his is, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood” by Marie Curie.


Frejya, lab mascot


Selected lab alumni

  • Pouneh Bahrami, Computer Science Masters (Winter 2020-Spring 2020)
  • Kevin Lee, Cell Biology / Computer Science undergraduate (Fall 2019-Spring 2020)
  • Kelly Chau, Genetics and Genomics undergraduate intern (2019)
  • Phoebe (Biyang) Zhang, Statistics undergraduate intern (2018)
  • Yifan Chen, BME rotation student (Fall 2017)
  • Daniela Soto, IGG rotation student (Fall 2017)
  • Shu Zhang, Biostatistics Masters intern (Summer 2017)
  • Erjia Cui, Statistics undergraduate intern (Summer 2017)
  • Yizi Zhang, Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior/Statistics undergraduate (Winter 2017)
  • Yimin Hu, CS undergraduate intern (Summer 2016)