About Korf Lab


ifkorf at ucdavis dot edu

Ian Korf

Associate Professor


As a youth, my favorite classes were sciences (especially biology) and my favorite pastime was computer gaming. Unlike today, back in 1980, pixels were the size of your fist and games required a lot of imagination. I have fond memories of some of those games, but even fonder memories of breaking into them. It wasn’t cheating that motivated me, but rather the challenge of figuring out how they worked. One wouldn’t expect that hacking computer games until the wee hours would be useful training for the budding molecular biologist… and it wasn’t. But for my eventual research program that mixes genomics and bioinformatics to answer fundamental questions about the hidden “language” of genome structure and function, it was exactly the sort of training I needed. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to make a career out of what is essentially a game to me.

Research Interests

Every genome contains the blueprints for an organism as well as a vast amount of its life history written in the simple alphabet of DNA. Understanding these “books of life” is one of the greatest challenges of this century. My research program uses bioinformatic and genomic techniques to decypher the various languages encoded in DNA. Specific areas of interest include gene prediction, epigenetics, genome assembly, gene regulation, protein-DNA interactions, sequence alignment, metagenomics, hidden Markov models, high performance computing, motif-finding, and genetic algorithms. I am especially attracted to problems at the interface of molecular biology and computer science.

Selected Publications

See my Google Scholar page

Prospective Trainees

My lab features people from high school to Ph.D. We don’t care about age, gender, nationality, favorite food, etc. We only care that you are passionate about science. We can teach you about bioinformatics and genomics (and foosball). We can’t teach you how to be self-motivated and insatiably curious. If you want to become a member of my lab, email me your CV and a cover letter. In the letter, tell me what you find interesting about my work. Generic, impersonal letters receive generic, impersonal responses (if any).

About Korf Lab

Korf Lab in the news

Jun 26, 2015: Keith Bradnam is interviewed by Frontline Genomics Magazine about his life in Bioinformatics.

Apr 8, 2015: Ian Korf is quoted in a Nature commentary article about Bioinformatics Service cores and the need for beter career paths for bioinformaticians.

Mar 16, 2015: Danielle Lemay is interviewed by the UC Davis News team about the new publication by herself, Kristen Beck (lead author), Ian Korf and others that describes new milk proteomes for human and macaque.

Apr 22, 2013: The Assemblathon 2 paper has won the 2013 BioMed Central Open Data award

Dec 10, 2013: A short piece in the UC Davis Alumni Magazine that discusses the new Genomics undergraduate major that Ian Korf co-developed.

Nov 26, 2013: Ian Korf writes a News & Views piece for Nature Methods about two new comparisons of programs that work with RNA-seq data

Nov 1, 2013: Keith B. and Kristen are both featured in a piece on Inquiring Minds as part of the new One UC Davis campaign.

More news

Contact Us

For questions or comments about the website, please e-mail:

korflab AT ucdavis DOT edu

Contact information for specific members of our lab can be found on their personal pages.