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Xiaobo Li

Principal Investigator

2018-present    Principal Investigator

                            School of Life Sciences

                            Westlake Institute for Advanced Study

                            Westlake University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

2016-2018         Postdoc

                            Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA

2012-2016         Postdoc

                           Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA, USA

2007-2012         Ph.D., Plant Biology program

                           Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

2003-2007        B.E., Bioengineering program

                            Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China


I spent the past 11 years on my Ph.D. and postdoc research in the US. The most important thing that I have learned during the years was that one should always be decisive when opportunities come up. When I started my Ph.D., the unicellular green-lineage organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii just got sequenced in its nuclear genome. I chose to use this organism to understand plant cellular metabolism in a department that heavily focused on Arabidopsis research. After my Ph.D., I chose to do a postdoc in a young lab, which was started by the PI (Martin Jonikas) directly after his Ph.D., to develop tools for accelerating our understanding of gene functions in photosynthetic eukaryotes.  


In 2018, I made one of the most important decisions in my academic career - to join the newly founded Westlake University. Here I enjoy the infinite number of possibilities to collaborate with elite scientists from all disciplines. Given the rapid advances in high-throughput molecular methodologies in the past decade, we think it’s time to intensively characterize the molecular and cellular biology of photosynthetic eukaryotes in the oceans; these organisms play essential roles in global ecology and typically have cellular structures strikingly different from those of green-lineage organisms.  

My philosophy for running a lab is to: (1) focus on solving the really key questions in a field; and (2) recruit the best people and keep them happy.