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Ceballos Research Laboratory


The Ceballos Lab is a cell and molecular biology, microbiology, and biochemistry research lab at the University of California Merced, dedicated to studying: (1) the evolution and ecology of microbes with focus on thermophilic archaea, micro-algae, cyanobacteria, and their viruses; (2) the common mechanisms underlying double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) virus-host dynamics across domains of life; (3) the impact of viral infection on cell function and cell-cell signaling (i.e., in neuronal systems); and, (4) the development microbial-based biotechnologies from extremophile microbe systems.

“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” – Stephen Jay Gould

Virology & Virus Ecology

Studies of virus systems from across domains of life include projects focused on fuselloviruses, roseoloviruses, orthomyxoviruses, phycodnaviruses, cyanophages, and more.


Host-Virus Evolutionary Dynamics Institute is a collaborative project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) Biology Integration Institute program.

Microbial-based Biotechnology

Design, development, and testing of microbial-based biotechnologies include projects focused on enhancing enzyme-mediated processes for biofuels, biomedical, and agricultural applications.

Ceballos Laboratory


(Last Updated 12 September 2023)

FuselloViruses (ARchaeal)

Sulfolobus Spindle-shaped Viruses

Phycodnaviruses (Eukaryotic)


Cyanophages (Bacterial)

AS-1, SM-1, N-1

Roseoloviruses (Eukaryotic)

Human Herpesviruses 6A/6B/7

Orthomyxoviruses (Eukaryotic)

Influenza A

Mobile enzyme sequestration Platforms



Ceballos Laboratory


Ruben Michael Ceballos, PhD

Principal Investigator

Sobroney Heng, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Elham Bahramian, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Enrique Marroquin, Jr. (Rick)

Lab/Field Technician





Scientific Curiosity

Why are there no Laws in Virology?

Physics has Newton’s Laws, Schrödinger’s Equations, Maxwell’s Equations and more. Chemistry has the Ideal Gas Law, Charles’ Law, Boyles’ Law, and more. Biology is nothing more than physics (energy) and chemistry (matter) in a living system. Yet, there are no universal laws of biology comparable to those developed in physics and chemistry. In biology, and certainly virology, we are left with postulates (e.g., Koch’s Postulates) and theories (e.g., Theory of Natural Selection). Why are there no universal laws of virology when biological systems are simply intersections of physics and chemistry in living systems? Perhaps, it has to do with the vastness and diversity of the virosphere that makes the formulation of universal laws intractable. Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that compared to the number of viruses (and bacteriophage) in the biosphere, we have only characterized a very small sample size and thus do not have enough data to formulate generalizable models to which all viruses (or large groups of viruses) adhere. Or, just maybe, we have focused on responding to emergent viral diseases and characterizing virus system dynamics in a reactionary manner and have spent less time trying to develop universal laws or “rules of life” in virology with validated predictive power. Willow (see photo right) has spent a lot of time thinking about this very question.

Willow is a Maine Coon from Israel
Ceballos Laboratory

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