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Xianfa Xie, Ph.D.

I have a broad interest in science and my research is very interdisciplinary. The focus of my research though is in biological science and engineering (if that is narrow enough :)). On one hand, I am very interested in understanding some fundamental questions in biology, particularly the origin and early evolution of eukaryotic life and the formation of new species. On the other hand, I try to make my research relevant to the real problems facing human society and the environment. For the latter, I am particularly interested in studying cellulose degradation process in the ecosystem with potential application in next-generation biofuel technology and understanding how human activities affect phytoplanktons in water systems and how environmental pollution causes human diseases like cancer. All my research employ large-scale molecular data and bioinformatic analyses, and often field study.

Xianfa Xie

Director, Center for Biotechnology, Genomics, and Bioinformatics 

Associate Professor

Department of Biology

Virginia State University

P.O. Box 9064

1 Hayden Drive

Petersburg, VA 23806

Office: 804-524-6838

Molecular Lab:  804-524-2962

Genomics Lab:  804-524-2963


Email:  xxie{at}

Courses taught:
Biological Sciences (U); Principles of Biology I, II (U); Integrative Organismal Biology (U); Evolutionary Biology (U); Genetics (U); Topics in Biology (U); Investigations and Research (U); Investigations in Biology (G); Topics in Modern Biology (G); Seminar (G); Molecular Biology (G)



Origin of species 

How do new species evolve? What roles do ecological differentiation, genomic, and transcriptomic divergence play in speciation?

Cellulose degradation (Biofuel)

How are cellulose and other plant materials degraded in the ecosystem and in animal digestive systems? Potential for next-generation biofuel?

Bioluminescent mushrooms

How many and what types of mushrooms are bioluminescent? Do they have similar genetic pathways and genomic profiles?

Environmental cause of cancer

How do the chemicals from the diet and environmental pollution cause epigenetic and gene expressional changes leading to cancer?

Organizer and Chair, Symposium "Microbial Eukaryotic Genomic Evolution (MEGE)" for the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) 2019 Annual Meeting at Manchester, U.K.
Organizer and Chair, Symposium "Understudied, Undervalued, But Amazingly Interesting: Microbial Eukaryotic Genomic Evolution" for the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) 2016 Annual Meeting at Gold Coast, Australia
Organizer and Chair, Symposium "Environment, Epigenetics, and Evolution (EEE)" for the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) 2009 Annual Meeting at Iowa City, Iowa, USA
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