Integrative Biology

University of California, Berkeley


The Department of Integrative Biology offers a program of instruction that focuses on the integration of structure and function that influences the biology, ecology, and evolution of organisms. It investigates integration at all levels of organization from molecules to the biosphere and in all branches of the tree of life: plants, animals, fungi, and microbes.

The department draws from many traditional and emerging fields and levels of biological organization in forging new research directions and answering traditional questions in new ways. The faculty has special strengths in the disciplines of functional morphology, organismal physiology, animal behavior, biomechanics, ecology, systematic biology, paleobiology, population genetics, and evolution.

Research Facilities

The Botanical Garden, located on 34 acres in Strawberry Canyon, provides opportunities for research with living plants, supplies teaching material for classes on campus, and serves as an outdoor laboratory for students. Independent student and internship opportunities are available in horticulture and plant conservation. The garden is organized primarily by geographic region: California, South America, Mexico/Central America, South Africa, Australasia, Mediterranean, Eastern North America, and Asia. Specialized collections include succulents and cacti, carnivorous plants, orchids, ferns, roses, tropical plants, a Chinese medicinal herb garden, and an herb garden. Laboratory and greenhouse facilities are available at the Botanical Garden Plant Conservation Research Center. For further information about events, programs, and opportunities, visit the Botanical Garden website. Inquiries can be addressed to the director by mail at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive #5045, Berkeley, CA 94720-5045, by email to, or by phone at 510-643-2755.

The Cancer Research Laboratory (CRL) is a research institute on the Berkeley campus that carries on a research, teaching, and service program designed to foster interdepartmental participation in cancer research. The central research program represents a multidisciplinary approach to an understanding of the mechanism of neoplastic transformation using a variety of systems. Graduate student and postdoctoral research programs are supported in various areas of tumor biology: biochemistry, cell biology, endocrinology, genetics, immunology, molecular biology, and tumor virology. Currently, CRL provides advanced technical resources to cancer and biomedical researchers in the areas of advanced microscopy, flow cytometry, gene targeting/transgenic mouse technology, human stem-cell facility, and an infectious disease facility. Instrumentation in the facilities is operated by highly-trained staff who offer instruction in the methods and techniques associated with each facility. For more information, visit the CRL website.

The Center for Interdisciplinary Bio-inspiration in Education and Research (CIBER) has been established to lead in the development of a new field of Integrative Systems Biomechanics that moves biology toward greater integration with other disciplines such as physics, mathematics, and engineering to a degree not seen before. The discipline focuses on the physics of how organisms function and interact with their environment. The goal is to discover basic physical principles that can be applied to a diversity of organisms and unique innovations. The fluid and solid mechanics of organisms are examined using direct experimentation, comparative and phylogenetic approaches, and both mathematical and physical modeling. Using this approach, the next generation of scientists and engineers will gain experience in collaboration across disciplines, as well as how to extract principles in biology that inspire novel design in engineering. In addition to developing innovative methods of teaching and research, CIBER has established an interdisciplinary teaching laboratory that allows students in undergraduate as well as graduate courses to address challenging problems that will give them a meaningful interdisciplinary learning experience. These facilities are being used in a number of existing and new courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. For more information on CIBER, visit their website.

The Center for Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry (CSIB), located on campus, is an analytical facility established as a University education, research, training, and service unit. The center provides high-precision, state-of-the-art instrumentation for analyzing the stable isotope composition of a diverse array of materials (e.g., plant and animal tissue samples, soils, atmospheric gasses, water, specific compounds, organic matter, etc.), as well as space for purifying, extracting, and preparing sample material for analysis. The center also serves as a focal point for research and training for many programs at Berkeley (e.g., in Biology, Ecology, Paleontology, Anthropology, Geography, Chemistry, Hydrology, Atmospheric, and Soil Sciences). The specialized equipment housed in the facility serves a broad range of student, postdoctoral, and faculty needs. This equipment includes several gas-phase isotope ratio mass spectrometers (IRMS); these mass spectrometers have the capabilities of analyzing the isotopic composition of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur in biological and geological samples, gases (biogenic and atmospheric), and water. In addition to the instrument laboratory, the center houses a fully-equipped sample extraction and preparation laboratory for handling a full range of sample types. For more information, visit the CSIB website.

The Field Station for Behavioral Research is a research institute that supports behavioral studies on animals under natural and semi-natural conditions. Situated on 20 acres of wooded hillside at the top of Strawberry Canyon two miles from the central campus, the field station maintains and observes a variety of animal species. Faculty from several Berkeley departments including Integrative Biology conduct research at the station. Its facilities are available for graduate and postdoctoral research with the approval of the director. People interested in the field station may contact the director via the Department of Integrative Biology.

The Gump South Pacific Research Station, French Polynesia, is located on Moorea (17° 30' S 149° 50' W), one of the Society Islands, 15 km northwest of the main island of Tahiti. Moorea offers diverse habitats ranging from coral reefs, lagoons, coastal beaches, freshwater streams, wetlands, and mountain forests. The Gump Station occupies 14 hectares (35 acres) of land from the shore to 149m (489 ft.) at the entrance to Cook's Bay, providing excellent access to the ocean, lagoon, and island interior. A range of housing options (shared dormitories or private bungalows) and laboratories allow long- and short-term research and education in a diversity of fields, including marine, freshwater, and terrestrial biology; evolutionary and conservation biology; archaeology; anthropology; ethnobotany; geology; and geomorphology. Facilities include boats and 4WD vehicles. A waterfront marine laboratory contains an open seawater system and equipment for UC Scientific Diving. A large climate-controlled research building contains offices, library/conference room, and several laboratories including space for morphological work (high-quality microscopes) and molecular genetic analyses. The station is connected to the Internet via multiple ADSL lines and has WiFi access in all common areas. For further information, contact Dr. Neil Davies, Executive Director at More information can be found on the station's website.

The Human Evolution Research Center (HERC) is dedicated to the study of human origins and evolution. HERC represents an international focal point for field and laboratory research and education. It is a center for the study of the process and products of human evolution. Research by HERC includes both field and laboratory investigation. The center’s collections and facilities provide support to faculty and students working on important, large-scale investigations. These include The Middle Awash Project and The Revealing Hominid Origins Initiative (RHOI). For more information on HERC and RHOI, visit the HERC website and the RHOI website.

The Jane Gray Research Greenhouse is operated by the Department of Integrative Biology and comprises approximately 2,400 square feet of state-of-the-art research space used for projects by faculty and students. The climate management system is computer-controlled and monitors temperature, humidity, light energy, and wind speed and direction. The system’s responses to these conditions can be controlled centrally or from a remote location through an on-screen ARGUS interface to gas heaters, evaporative coolers, vents, fans, and sunshades. The facility provides an ideal resource for plant growth investigations that require closely controlled and monitored conditions. For more information, visit the greenhouse's website.

The Museum of Paleontology (UCMP), a research institute for faculty, staff, students, and qualified visiting scholars, has one of the largest collections of fossil protists, invertebrates, plants, and vertebrates in the nation, as well as large collections of modern vertebrate skeletal elements and invertebrates. The collection is worldwide in scope and especially strong in materials from western North America. Research activities include systematic, paleobiogeographic, paleoecologic, biostratigraphic, evolutionary, and theoretical paleobiologic studies. Fieldwork on all continents by researchers and students associated with the museum continues to sustain substantial collection growth. Special facilities include molecular biology and fossil preparation laboratories, as well as specialized laboratories for microfossils, pollen, and cast production.

UCMP has an active education and outreach program which uses the web as its primary venue for sharing science with a broader audience. The UCMP website contains a wealth of information on evolution, paleontology, systematics, and associated sciences, as well as access to collections data and specimen images. Requests for the use of the collections or facilities should be mailed to the Director, Museum of Paleontology, Valley Life Sciences Building, University of California, Berkeley; Berkeley, CA 94720.

The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology is an Organized Research Unit affiliated with the Department of Integrative Biology and the Berkeley Natural History Museums. It was established in 1908 and has grown to be one of the largest and most important collections of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals in the world. The museum has no public exhibits; it is primarily a research organization and a center for graduate and postdoctoral education. The museum's space in the Valley Life Sciences Building includes all of the collections as well as administrative and research offices for faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate students. In addition, there are laboratories for molecular genetics and biodiversity informatics. Research activities center on problems in evolutionary biology, with an emphasis on systematics, ecology, functional and developmental morphology, behavior, population and conservation biology, and biogeography. Integration of field and laboratory methods are encouraged. For more information, write to the Director, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley; Berkeley, CA 94720, or for the Hastings Reservation, write to Jen Hunter at More information can be found on the museum's website.

The University and Jepson Herbaria offer a worldwide reference-research collection, laboratories, archive, and library that form a foundation for basic research in systematic botany, ecology, phytogeography, evolution, and comparative genomics. These resources are available not only to faculty, staff, and students but also to visiting scholars and biologists throughout the United States and other countries. Resources include the following:

  1. The collection itself, more than 2.2 million specimens with special strengths in the angiosperm flora of California and elsewhere around the Pacific Rim as well as in cryptogamic groups including ferns, bryophytes, fungi, and algae.
  2. Modern laboratories for all types of plant studies ranging from morphology/anatomy to molecular systematics. 
  3. Extensive electronic resources, including an online flora of California and interface for accessing electronic records from all California herbaria, the world's standard index of algal nomenclature, to the tree of life for green plants.

Visit the website for more information. Inquiries should be directed to the Collections Manager at

The University of California Natural Reserve System (NRS) was founded in 1965 to establish and maintain significant examples of California's diverse aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems for university-level teaching, research, and public service. The 33 reserves are open to all qualified individuals and institutions for scholarly work in disciplines ranging from geology and environmental sciences to anthropology and art. For information regarding the four reserves administered by the Berkeley campus, contact faculty reserve Director Peggy L. Fielder at 510-987-0143 or The Berkeley campus administers the following four reserves:

  • The Angelo Coast Reserve in Mendocino County is one of the most diverse reserves, with 26 terrestrial and four aquatic habitat types. Located along a belt of highly-deformed, well-defined coastal ridges cut by the South Fork of the Eel River, the reserve contains the largest virgin Douglas fir community left in the state as well as four undisturbed watersheds. It is part of the UNESCO California Coast Ranges Biosphere Reserve. For more information, contact Peter Steel at 707-984-6653 or
  • The Chickering American River Reserve in Placer County is located in the sub-alpine headwaters basin of the North Fork of the American River. The reserve has diverse topography, soil, and moisture regimes on sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic substrates. It supports approximately 1,000 plant species, unusual red fir and mixed-conifer old-growth forest communities, and a variety of large mammals. Long-term research continues on the endangered wolverine. For more information, contact Robert Rhew at
  • The Hans Jenny Pygmy Forest Reserve in Mendocino County supports elfin forests of endemic pygmy cypress, bishop pine, and unusual evergreen shrub species on highly podzolized old marine terrace soils. This reserve is adjacent to lands managed by The Nature Conservancy.
  • The Hastings Natural History Reserve in Monterey County contains a representative sample of California's interior Coast Range ecosystem with annual and perennial grasslands, oak woodlands, chaparral, and running streams. The reserve has 620 vascular plant species and 166 bird species. While noted for its 50-year research history on vertebrate ecology and oak woodland biology, the reserve is also conducting important research on native grassland restoration. For more information, contact Jen Hunter at 831-659-2664 or

Undergraduate Program

Integrative Biology: BA

Graduate Program

Integrative Biology: PhD

Visit Department Website


Integrative Biology

Contact Information

Department of Integrative Biology

3040 Valley Life Sciences Building

Phone: 510-642-3281

Fax: 510-643-6264

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Robert Dudley, PhD

5018 Valley Life Sciences Building

Undergraduate Student Services

Advising Office

3060 Valley Life Sciences Building

Phone: 510-643-1667

Graduate Department Co-Chair

Mike Boots, PhD

5017 Valley Life Sciences Building

Graduate Department Co-Chair

Eileen Lacey, PhD

3101 Valley Life Sciences Building

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Monica Albe

3040 Valley Life Sciences Building

Back to Top