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, Nick Barton

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.


Daniele De Martino

IST Fellow
PhD (SISSA Trieste)

I joined IST in November 2015 after a postdoc in La Sapienza University of Rome and I hold a PhD in Statistical Physics from SISSA (Trieste). The focus of my research is on statistical mechanics, i.e. how to reconstruct the collective macroscopic behavior of a system from the interactions of its microscopic constituent units, and its applications beyond condensed matter and in particular to biological processes. In the last years I have been working on the theoretical physico-chemical basis of cell metabolism and on the development of related computational methods for data analysis that I am currently using to model cell growth.



Former group members

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
Georg Martius, IST Fellow, 2017 starting as Max Planck Group Leader at MPI for Biological Cybernetics
Cristina Savin, IST Fellow, Fall 2017 starting as Assistant Professor at NYU in neuroscience and data science
Jakob Ruess, IST Fellow, Fall 2016 starting as INRIA Palaiseau Researcher
Vicent Botella-Soler, postdoc, now freelance data analysis consultant
Murat Tugrul, PhD student, cosupervised with Nick Barton (defended June 27, 2016); Fall 2016 starting as postdoc at St. Anna Kinderspital, Vienna
Georg Rieckh, PhD student (defended June 28, 2016); Fall 2016 starting as postdoc with Sergey Kryazhimskiy at UC San Diego
Gabriel Mitchell, postdoc



Vijay Balasubramanian, University of Pennsylvania
William Bialek, Princeton University
Michael Berry 2nd, Princeton University
Thomas Gregor, Princeton University
Ann Hermundstad, University of Pennsylvania
Olivier Marre, Vision Institute
Thierry Mora, Ecole Normale Superiore
Phil Nelson, University of Pennsylvania
Elad Schneidman, Weizmann Institute of Science
Ronen Segev, Ben Gurion University
Jonathan Victor, Weill-Cornell Medical College
Aleksandra Walczak, Ecole Normale Superiore