Gašper TkačikProfessor 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 CepedaGraduate 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 timevarying signals. 

Jan HumplikGraduate 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 datadriven approaches, I am trying to understand how local interactions among fish give rise to the collective behavior they exhibit in groups. 

Bor KavčičGraduate Student, coadvised by Tobias Bollenbach Predicting responses of organisms in different environments is a longstanding 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 “growthlaws” together with microscopic kinetics of antibiotic transport and binding to predict quantitative features of the experimentally observed doseresponse 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 GrahGraduate Student, coadvised 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 genotypephenotype map for a dynamical phenotype, would form a basis to infer how dynamical properties in a cell can evolve. 

Anna M AnderssonPostdoc 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 SokolowskiPostdoc 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 crossinteractions 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 MartinoIST Fellow 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 physicochemical basis of cell metabolism and on the development of related computational methods for data analysis that I am currently using to model cell growth. 

Mantas GabrielaitisIST Fellow 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. 
Former group members
Matthew Chalk, postdoc, 2018 starting as INSERM Researcher at Institute of Vision, Paris
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
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 BotellaSoler, 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
Collaborators
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, WeillCornell Medical College →
Aleksandra Walczak, Ecole Normale Superiore →