Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (MCD)


Career Options:  The MCD Biology Training Program encourages graduate students to consider diverse career options, including research in academia or biotechnology, teaching in a university or college, science writing or publishing, science policy, science funding, and science-related law. To expose graduate student to different career options and facilitate their networking with Ph.D.s who have pursued various careers, we now offer a Career Planning course and we developed a database of Bay Area biotechnology companies and a database of MCD Biology alumni who have pursued diverse science careers.

To help graduate students prepare for careers to which they are well suited, all graduate students prepare Individual Development Plans (IDPs) at least twice during their years in our program.  IDPs encourage trainees to reflect on their training and career goals, self assess their skills and competencies, discuss their goals and competencies with their mentor, and work with their mentor to develop short- and long-term training goals.

Career Outcomes: Over the last 18 years, 136 graduate students have earned a Ph.D. in MCD Biology.  The average time to degree was 5.9 years.  Of those 136 Ph.D.s:

  • 99 (73%) are in academic, biotechnology, teaching, or science writing careers
  • 28 (21%) are currently doing postdocs 
  • 9 (6%) are arranging their next science position or pursuing non-science careers

Paths and Careers of Several MCD Biology Graduates are provided below. You can also download a PDF table of all graduates since 2005, which also shows their current positions.


YuKristina Yu, Ph.D. in 2000
Ph.D.: William Sullivan’s lab
Postdoc:  None
Current Position: Director of the San Francisco Exploratorium Living Systems Department, San Francisco, CA 

kentJim Kent, Ph.D. in 2002
Ph.D.: Alan Zahler’s lab
Postdoc:  None
Current Position: Director of the UCSC Genome Browser at UCSC
Jim Kent on the UCSC Genome Browser:

Megan WilliamsMegan Williams, Ph.D. in 2004
Ph.D.: Lindsay Hinck’s lab
Postdoc:  Anirvan Ghosh’s lab at UC-San Diego
Current Position: Associate Professor of Neurobiology & Anatomy at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT


Blake RiggsBlake Riggs, Ph.D. in 2005
Ph.D.: William Sullivan’s lab
Postdoc:  Rebecca Heald’s lab at UC-Berkeley
Current Position: Associate Professor in Biology at San Francisco State University

Sam GuGuoping (Sam) Gu, Ph.D. in 2006
Ph.D.: Alan Zahler’s lab
Postdoc:  Andrew Fire’s lab at Stanford University
Current Position: Associate Professor in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Rutger’s University in New Brunswick, NJ

Patrick FerreePatrick Ferree, Ph.D. in 2006
Ph.D.: William Sullivan’s lab
Postdoc:  Daniel Barbash’s lab at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Current Position: Associate Professor of Biology at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA

Cory PfeiffenbergerCory Pfeiffenberger, Ph.D. in 2007
Ph.D.: David Feldheim’s lab
Postdoc:  Ravi Allada’s lab at Northwestern University
Current Position: Medical Writer at Complete Healthcare Communications in Philadelphia, PA

Karen ArtilesKaren Artiles, Ph.D. in 2008
Ph.D.: Doug Kellogg’s lab
Postdoc: None
Current Position: Research Scientist and Lab Manager in Andrew Fire’s lab at Stanford University

Craig TableCraig Tamble, Ph.D. in 2008
Ph.D.: Scott Lokey’s lab
Postdoc:  John Reed’s lab at Burnham Institute for Medical Research
Current Position: Senior Technical Application Scientist, Pall Laboratories, Westborough, PA

Nicole LambertNicole Lambert, Ph.D. in 2010
Ph.D: Alan Zahler’s lab
Postdoc:  Christopher Burge’s lab at MIT in Boston, MA
Current Position: Associate Director of Research and Early Development, Foundation Medicine, San Diego, CA

Hector MaciasHector Macias, Ph.D. in 2010
Ph.D.: Lindsay Hinck’s lab
Postdoc:  Michael German’s lab at UCSF
Current Position: BioPharma Key Account Manager, 10x Genomics, San Francisco, CA

Eva Murdock BalogEva Murdock Balog, Ph.D. in 2012
Ph.D.: Seth Rubin's lab
Postdoc: Jennifer Martinez lab at Los Alamos National Laboratory
Current Position: Associate Professor in Chemistry at the University of New England in Biddeford, ME


Alice YeAlice Ye, Ph.D. in 2014
Ph.D.: Needhi Bhalla's lab
Postdoc: None
Current Position: Researcher at DNARx in San Francisco, CA


nih UCSC's graduate  Program in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering is supported by training grants from the National Institute of General Medical Science and the National Human Genome Research Institute.