Gašper Tkačik

PhD, Physics (Princeton University)

I joined IST Austria in 2011. Previously I was a postdoc with Vijay Balasubramanian and Phil Nelson at University of Pennsylvania, working on the theory of neural coding and specifically exploring population coding and adaptation in the retina. I finished my PhD at Princeton with Bill Bialek and Curt Callan in 2007, studying how biological networks can reliably transmit and process information in the presence of intrinsic noise and corrupted signals. I am broadly interested in uncovering general principles that underlie efficient biological computation.

[ CV pdf ]


Sarah Cepeda

Graduate Student

I am interested in understanding the dynamics of communication in biological systems. In particular on signal transmission and decision making in biochemical networks; with special focus in time-varying signals.


Jan Humplik

Graduate Student

I joined IST as a graduate student in 2013. Previously I worked in the group of Martin Nowak at Harvard University focusing on problems of evolution of infectious diseases in finite populations. Now I am interested in more general questions about organization and information processing in complex systems. In particular, using data-driven approaches, I am trying to understand how local interactions among fish give rise to the collective behavior they exhibit in groups.


 Bor Kavčič

Graduate Student, co-advised by Tobias Bollenbach

Predicting responses of organisms in different environments is a long-standing goal. In my project I combine experimental and theoretical approaches to study the bacterial responses to the combinations of antibiotics. In particular, I use well established “growth-laws” together with microscopic kinetics of antibiotic transport and binding to predict quantitative features of the experimentally observed dose-response curves for translation inhibitors and their combinations. On the experimental end, I use genetical perturbations that change model parameters in predictable ways thus enabling verification of model predictions.


Rok Grah

Graduate Student, co-advised by Calin Guet

Which phenotypes can be realized by evolution is determined by the biological and physical constraints acting on the regulatory networks. In my project I study the effect of regulatory network topology on the distribution of mutational effects and evolutionary accessibility of dynamical phenotypes. I hope to make the evolutionary connection between the documented interesting dynamical properties of the regulatory networks, and the regulatory genotype. Understanding the biophysical constraints posed by the topology of the regulatory network, and through it the genotype-phenotype map for a dynamical phenotype, would form a basis to infer how dynamical properties in a cell can evolve.




Anna M Andersson

PhD, Physics (Niels Bohr Institute)

The question that fascinates me is how bacterial populations deal with uncertainty. A bacterial population makes chemical computations that determine what genes are expressed in single cells and in the population. The outcome of these noisy computations has to convey information about the surrounding environment, a seemingly daunting task. I study this theoretically working with Gasper but also collaborate with Tobias Bergmiller in Calin Guet’s group where we ask these question experimentally in relation to antibiotic resistance.

Thomas Sokolowski

PhD, Physics (AMOLF, Amsterdam)

I am interested in mechanisms that make information processing in biological systems robust, with a special focus on spatial aspects. My current research topic is the embryonic development of the fruit fly. Here different body parts are specified by local establishment of confined protein expression patterns. I am studying whether and how diffusive coupling and genetic cross-interactions can enhance information transmission via this process, and under which circumstances this works best. I employ methods from statistical physics, information theory, and spatially resolved stochastic simulations.


Mantas Gabrielaitis

IST Fellow
PhD (MPI-DS and University of Göttingen)

The question encapsulating my research interests is that of the relation between the properties of biophysical organization and information processing of biological sensory systems. Currently, my work focuses on the auditory system. Applying the tools and concepts of information and statistical learning theories, I study how various structures in the auditory periphery are adapted to encode and transmit information to the brain efficiently. On a more theoretical side, I am developing a mathematical framework for calculating the responses of dynamical systems described by partially observed Markov processes. These are the underlying mathematical models of diverse phenomena related to the processing of biological information, e.g., gene regulation and neurotransmission.


Wiktor Mlynarski

IST Fellow
PhD (MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences)

I joined the group as an IST Plus fellow in October 2018. Before that I was a postdoc at MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, and got my PhD at the Max-Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences. In my work I try to understand fundamental limits and principles which govern the function of sensory systems. To that end I analyze the statistical structure of natural stimuli, develop optimal processing strategies which might be approximated by biological systems and verify theoretical predictions through experimental data analysis. To read more about my work please see my homepage.


Former group members


Katarína Boďová, postdoc, cosupervised with Nick Barton; Winter 2017 starting as Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics, Comenius University, Bratislava
Vicent Botella-Soler, postdoc, now freelance data analysis consultant
Matthew Chalk, postdoc, 2018 starting as INSERM Researcher at Institute of Vision, Paris
Daniele De Martino, postdoc
Tamar Friedlander, IST Fellow, 2017 starting as Assistant Professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Anna Levina, IST Fellow, 2017 starting as Group Leader at University of Tübingen, recipient of Sofja Kovalevskaja Award 2017
Georg Martius, IST Fellow, 2017 starting as Max Planck Group Leader at MPI for Biological Cybernetics
Gabriel Mitchell, postdoc
Georg Rieckh, PhD student (defended June 28, 2016); Fall 2016 starting as postdoc with Sergey Kryazhimskiy at UC San Diego
Jakob Ruess, IST Fellow, Fall 2016 starting as INRIA Palaiseau Researcher
Cristina Savin, IST Fellow, Fall 2017 starting as Assistant Professor at NYU in neuroscience and data science
Murat Tugrul, PhD student, cosupervised with Nick Barton (defended June 27, 2016); Fall 2016 starting as postdoc at St. Anna Kinderspital, Vienna