Max Boeck, Ph.D.



    University of Washington - Genome Sciences


    Jason Lieb, Ph.D.
    Kerry Bloom, Ph.D.


When I was 10 I boldly declared I wanted to be a scientist. Having exhausted my Mr. Wizard kit, I decided I was destined for a life of scientific endeavour. I have, since then, been lucky enough to have been taught by a number of inspirational and encouraging mentors. In high school Dr. Ian Young let me work in his lab, in college Dr. Janis Shampay and Dr. Peter Russell inspired a deep and lasting passion for genetics in me and finally in grad schoole Dr. Bob Waterston gave me the space and time to mature into a fully fledged scientist. Having been inspired and aided by so many amazing scientists along my path, my passion is now to inspire the next generation of scientists and to help them realize their goals. The SPIRE program is an ideal environment to develop the skills necessary to impart this same ability and passion onto a new generation of scientists. I also think we as scientists have an obligation to make science more accessible to the wider public. With these same tools that I hope to use to inspire the next generation of scientists, I also hope to spread our work to the wider public.

I obtained my PhD. from the University of Washington Department of Genome Sciences in Dr. Bob Waterston's lab. While there, I focused on understanding how cell fate is activated by transcription factors during the development of the model organism C. elegans. The Waterston lab automatically tracks C. elegans development by labeling each cell with a ubiquitous histone-fused GFP and taking time-lapse movies during the first 6 hours of development. By examining embryos with specific transcription factors knocked out I was able to gain insights into the specific roles of transcription factors essential for gut development.

In an effort to better understand how transcription factors activate genes, I came to UNC to study the dynamics of transcription factors binding to DNA in the lab of Dr. Jason Lieb. The Lieb lab is interested in understanding how information is encoded by the proteins bound to DNA. One of the key aspects to understanding this layer of information is understanding DNA-binding dynamics (protein residence time). Depending on how you measure residence time, however, you can get vastly different estimates ranging from seconds to more than ten minutes. For my project I will be working on reconciling these estimates of residence time. The Lieb lab also has a stellar record of having undergraduate researchers in the lab and getting them onto publications. I hope to continue this record and have undergraduate researchers working in conjunction with me on this project.



  • Fall 2014
    • Special Topics: Genomics and Public Health, North Carolina Central University
  • Spring 2014
    • Principles of Biology with lab, North Carolina Central University