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Welcome to the web site for the Quantitative Biology and Epidemiology (QBE, “cube”) research group of the Plant Pathology Department at UC Davis.  In the cube group we are interested in understanding how plant disease epidemics, and many other phenomena, arise out of the interactions between people, agriculture, the environment, and wider ecosystems.  Wherever possible, we express relationships among these components quantitatively, but we utilize a wide range of quantitative and qualitative techniques in order to combine information from different domains into models.

Four basic components make up the systems we study: People, plants, pathogens and the environment.  Modern plant disease epidemiology is a hybrid discipline combining elements of natural sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences.


Prospective graduate students interested in studying in QBE should first complete the UC Davis online application process for admissions.  I cannot make offers of places to individual students applying speculatively via email.  In addition, if you are thinking about applying to work in QBE please consider the type of work that we do and note, in particular, that we do not offer wet lab experience - Eppendorf tubes and micropipettes get you going? Not our thing.
Graduate study at UC Davis is organized into Graduate Groups.  Plant Pathology is its own graduate group (see link to application above).  In addition to Plant Pathology, I am also in the
Students wishing to enter either GGE program should apply via the online systems for those programs.
Undergraduate research
QBE hosts several undergraduate researchers each year.  There are two main options.  Some students work with us as undergrad research interns (for research credits), or GDB students study with me to complete the research practicum requirement for the GDB Major.  Most of the research interns first take GDB101 and contact me in person to discuss possible research positions.
The Long Narrow Swale: Thoughts on interdisciplinary research
  • The Rumsfeld filter

    It is well over a year since the first post on this blog.  I had intended it to be monthly or maybe happen once every two months.  Ah well, most of the time that I wasn't spending writing blogs I was sciencing, so I'll let myself off the...

    By Neil McRoberts
    Author - Professor
  • "Science is Sciencing"

    The title for this post is stolen from a 1938 essay by the anthropologist Leslie A. White.  The essay - a reflection on the complex, interconnected phenomena that science attempts to interpret, and the resulting need for traditional artificial...

    By Neil McRoberts
    Author - Professor