Education and scientific career
Holland attended Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California, where he graduated as class valedictorian in 1984. During high school, Holland was the best student in mathematics in his year, and he found it "just as exciting as punk rock." He then attended the University of Southern California, where he earned a B.S. degree in biology and an M.S. degree in molecular biology, and commenced a Ph.D. in molecular biology. However, after the success of The Offspring, he suspended his candidature to focus on music. Holland had said in 1995 that, when he turns 40, he would rather be a professor at a university than play music.
Holland was a doctoral student at the Laboratory of Viral Oncology and Proteomics Research, Keck School of Medicine, where he was supervised by Professor Suraiya Rasheed. In March 2013, Holland and co-authors published a paper in PLoS One regarding microRNA in HIV genomes, titled "Identification of Human MicroRNA-Like Sequences Embedded within the Protein-Encoding Genes of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus". The original academic paper describes the use of computational molecular biological (in silico) approaches to identify microRNA-like sequences in HIV. These sequences are suggested to have evolved to self-regulate survival of the virus in the host by evading its immune responses and thus influence the persistence, replication, and pathogenicity of HIV. Holland was awarded his Ph.D. degree in molecular biology during the USC Commencement on May 12, 2017.