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Jessica Lee, Ph.D.


Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems


  • Stanford University (Ph.D., Environmental Earth System Science)

  • University of Oxford (M.Sc., Biology, Integrative Biosciences)

  • University of Oxford (M.Sc., Biodiversity, Conservation and Management)

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., Biology)

What's your background?

I study microbes in the context of their environments. You could call me a microbial ecologist, but you could equally well call me a microbial physiologist, an evolutionary biologist, or a complex systems scientist.

What's your role at LRC?

I'm a research fellow in the Boundaries of Life Initiative. I do independent research at San Francisco State University in microbial ecology and evolution. I also get to coordinate the Boundaries of Life Scholarship, which means interacting on a regular basis with our three talented BoL Junior Fellows, who are doing their Master's research at SFSU in BoL-related topics. 

What trend, breakthrough or discovery are you most excited about?

Appreciating microbes as individuals. Much of microbiology research focuses on the behavior of microbes in bulk, taking the average of millions or billions of cells at time. While this often makes sense, we're increasingly starting to understand that individual cells often act differently from one another in ways we wouldn't normally expect... and this can allow groups of microbes to carry out more complex behaviors than they could if they were all identical. 



Learn more about Jessica on her website,

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