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Rachel Patton McCord, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator


Rachel received her BS in Biophysics from Davidson College (Davidson, NC), building optical tweezers with advisors Dr. Karen Bernd and Dr. John Yukich.  She received her Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) for work on transcription factor sequence preferences supervised by Dr. Martha Bulyk. She carried out postdoctoral research on 3D genome structure with Dr. Job Dekker in the Program in Systems Biology at UMass Medical School.  In addition to science, she enjoys playing with her son, playing the violin, bicycling, and singing.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Rebeca San Martin Ph.D

Rebeca obtained her B.S in Biochemistry and her M.S in Chemistry from Oakland University (Rochester, MI), under the tutelage of Dr. Kathleen H. Moore, studying MMP-TIMP interactions. She received her Ph.D in Cell and Molecular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX), working on characterizing a role for the reactive tissue microenvironment and prostate cancer progression, supervised by Dr. David Rowley. Her current research explores how these reactive microenvironments inform the 3D genome structure in the progression of prostate cancer.

Graduate Students

Heng Li

Heng obtained his BS in Biology from Nanchang University (China), and a MS in Genetics from Nanchang University (China). He joined BCMB on 2019. His research focus on 3D genome organization changes during DNA damage.

Priyojit Das (GST)

Prior to joining UTK, Priyojit completed his MTech degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the National Institute of Technology Calicut, India. Priyojit uses different computational, mathematical, and physics-based modeling and simulation techniques to characterize the rearrangements in the spatial organization of the genome due to physical and biochemical perturbations and how these changes affect the downstream cellular phenotype. He is also interested in characterizing the structural heterogeneity and dynamics of chromosome structural ensemble. Apart from doing research, he spends his time cooking and watching historical documentaries.

Chris Playter

Chris received his BS in Genetics from Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN). He currently is studying the relationship between 3D genome structure and cancer migration. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, and going to sporting events.

Yang Xu (GST)

Yang received his BS in Biotechnology from Huazhong Agricultural University (Wuhan, China). Yang focuses on unsupervised representation learning for high dimensional sequencing data and integration of multimodal single-cell data via deep learning. Outside of lab, Yang is a big fan of horror movie and horror video game. When he is not a nerd and geek, he likes to travel or camp in the wilderness.

Undergraduate Students

  • Renata Dos Reis Marques, Engineering Class of 2023
  • Ashtyn Hill, BCMB Class of 2021
  • Morgan Rose Brown, Microbiology

Past Members/Graduates

Rosela Golloshi Ph.D


Jacob Sanders Ph.D


Sarah Carver, BCMB, B.S. 2016
Darrian Nash, BCMB, B.S. 2017
Jeff Schoondyke, BCMB, B.S. 2018
Peyton Terry, BCMB & Philosophy, B.S. 2018
Trevor Freeman, BCMB B.S. 2018
Thomas Isaac Raines, BCMB B.S. 2019

Delaney Thurston, BCMB/Medical Lab Science, Class of 2020
Mandy Stallard, BCMB Major, Class of 2020