Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology

Systems, Synthetic and Physical Biology (SSPB) is a new field that combines experimental and theoretical approaches to solve both fundamental and applied problems in the biosciences, biotechnology and medicine. SSPB is emerging as one of the most important areas of life sciences of this century. While the past several decades have been dubbed the Information Age, the coming era will likely be a biological one where organisms are engineered to produce new medicines, fuels and materials. In order to reach the potential of engineered biological systems, we must first understand the organizing principles of life. SSPB researchers operate at this interface, aiming to understand the molecular language of life, so that new biological functions can be reliably designed.

The SSPB Ph.D. program at Rice University trains students to combine principles from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in order to make transformative discoveries and advances in biological engineering. SSPB students will be highly interdisciplinary, with strong foundations in the quantitative and life sciences. SSPB faculty members come from 8 different departments across the Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences. The curriculum includes a “Fundamentals of SSPB” course that is designed to provide students from diverse backgrounds exposure to a breadth of biological and quantitative topics, at least two advanced courses in computer science, physics, applied mathematics or statistics, and two courses focusing on a biological subject within the area of a student’s dissertation research. Students joining the SSPB program are expected to have prior training in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, or physics.

For further information and how to apply, prospective students may visit Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology website and download the graduate program handbook.

Areas of Research

  • Systems Biology - Theoretical
  • Systems Biology - Experimental
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Physical Biology - Theoretical
  • Physical Biology - Experimental

Degrees Offered:

Doctor of Philosophy

Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology Contact Information

Jonathan (Joff) Silberg
Associate Professor of Biosciences
Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Director, SSPB Graduate Program
Phone: 713-348-5961