Jonathan Liu

Jonathan Liu

PhD Candidate, Physics

UC Berkeley

About Me

I am a PhD student in the physics department at UC Berkeley studying the biophysics of gene regulatory networks. My research combines tools from synthetic biology, theoretical physics, and statistical inference to develop and investigate models of gene regulation. In particular, I’ve focused on developing statistical techniques and models to extract and quantify biophysical parameters from transcriptional data acquired through live cell imaging. Although my background is in traditional physics, I have picked up a lot of familiarity with biology along the way and often inhabit the border between physics and biology, as well as between theory and experiment.

After getting my undergraduate degree from Caltech, I spent a year working in origins-of-life research with Dieter Braun at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, under the sponsorship of the U.S. Fulbright Student Fellowship. I’m currently in my fifth year at Berkeley and am working with Hernan Garcia in studying nonequilibrium processes in gene regulatory networks, in the context of developmental biology. Check out my CV here.

Outside of research, I am deeply committed to science communication and community building. I have given numerous talks to wide range of audiences, both expert and nonexpert, and regularly write scientific articles for the Berkeley Science Review. For the past few years, I have also been involved with industry-academia connections, serving on the team of Beyond Academia, a student-run organization at UC Berkeley that brings together hundreds of PhDs in industry every year. Please get in touch if you’re interested in chatting about this!

Beyond my scientific life, I am an active collaborative pianist in the Bay Area affiliated with the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus. In my free time I enjoy reading speculative fiction, running, and cooking.


jhkliu42 at gmail dot com

Twitter: @jhliu42

LinkedIn: in/jonathan-liu-b004103b/


  • Quantitative systems biology
  • Statistical inference
  • Modeling
  • Computational image analysis


  • PhD in Physics, 2021 (expected)

    UC Berkeley

  • BS in Applied Physics, 2015




Graduate Student Researcher

Garcia Lab, UC Berkeley

Aug 2016 – Present Berkeley, California
Funded by NDSEG fellowship.

Visiting Researcher

Braun Lab, LMU Munich

Sep 2015 – Jul 2016 Munich, Germany
Funded by U.S. Fulbright Scholar program.

B.S. Applied Physics


Sep 2011 – Jun 2015 Pasadena, California
Graduated with honors.

Selected Publications

Jonathan Liu, Donald Hansen, Elizabeth Eck, Yang Joon Kim, Meghan A Turner, Simon Alamos, Hernan G Garcia. (2021) Real-time single-cell characterization of the eukaryotic transcription cycle reveals correlations between RNA initiation, elongation, and cleavage. PLoS Computational Biology.

Elizabeth Eck*, Jonathan Liu*, Maryam Kazemzadeh-Atoufi, Sydney Ghoreishi, Shelby Blythe, Hernan G Garcia. (2020) Quantitative dissection of transcription in development yields evidence for transcription factor-driven chromatin accessibility eLife 2020;9:e56429. (*equal contribution)

Matthias Morasch, Jonathan Liu, Christina F Dirscherl, Alan Ianeselli, Alexandra Kühnlein, Kristian Le Vay, Philipp Schwintek, Saidul Islam, Mérina K Corpinot, Bettina Scheu, Donald B Dingwell, Petra Schwille, Hannes Mutschler, Matthew W Powner, Christof B Mast, Dieter Braun. (2019) Heated gas bubbles enrich, crystallize, dry, phosphorylate and encapsulate prebiotic molecules Nature Chemistry 11:779–788