Brian Lee

Major: Biosciences - Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Research Advisor: Kory Evans

Brian Lee’s love of biology began with marine biology. “My childhood was filled with trips to the beach, aquariums and rivers,” he said. “That interest in marine biology was supplemented in school, adding an appreciation for cellular and molecular systems. Coming to Rice, the Biosciences major was the obvious choice as it offered avenues to explore all of my interests in biology.”

Like many first-year students, Brian came to Rice with AP Biology credit. In order to make sure that he had a solid foundation as a Biosciences major, he chose to enroll in Introductory Biology (BIOS 201) with Professor Gustin instead of using his AP credit. “I’m so glad I did!” said Brian. “Professor Gustin helped solidify my love of biology and instilled a good knowledge base that I’ve used in all subsequent natural science courses at Rice.”

Among those courses is Ecology (BIOS 332), Brian’s favorite course so far at Rice. “Professor Miller’s class is relaxed and the perfect mix of interesting and challenging. I never got the sense that the class was overly easy or impossible, and I always felt that my efforts in this class paid off in terms of intellectual growth…and grades,” he said. “This course has been fundamental to my decision to pursue the concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.”

Working as an undergraduate researcher in Professor Kory Evans’ lab, Brian is part of a team trying to elucidate the mechanisms of evolution. They use fish skulls as their model and are especially interested in understanding the evolution of flatfish asymmetry. “I was surprised to learn that flatfish are born looking normal, with one eye on each side of their skull,” said Brian. “Through their development, one of the eyes shifts over to the other side. And it’s not just the eye moving — their entire skull, anatomy, hormones, pigmentation and behavior changes with that development of asymmetry.”

Brian’s research experience has helped cement his plan to attend medical school. “While I love biology and my love for ecology and marine biology has only grown, I also realized that I likely won’t pursue a professional career as a researcher,” he said. “With that being said, the knowledge and perspectives gained from an education and research in biosciences will be invaluable on my premedical journey.”

Outside of the classroom, Brian likes weight lifting, rock climbing with the “very welcoming Rice climbing community,” and playing the cello with Rice’s Campanile Orchestra. And he enjoys finding the occasional intersections between his classes and extracurriculars. “For example, after learning about the specific role of carbohydrates in cellular respiration during Biochemistry 1 (BIOS 301), I began incorporating more carbs before my climbing and lifting sessions.”