I am a physicist with (real) interest in biology. I did my PhD in the Center for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa in Madrid (CSIC-UAM) under the supervision of Dr. Ugo Bastolla. Then I joined the Microbial Ecology laboratory of Imperial College London, leaded by Prof. Thomas Bell. I am currently a member of the Theoretical Biology group at ETH-Zürich, leaded by Prof. Sebastian Bonhoeffer. I focus on complex biological systems at the different scales, from molecules to large ecosystems, with special emphasis on microbial ecology, and considering experimental data whenever is possible. In the following, I briefly describe some areas of interest.
Microbial Ecology and Evolution
The vast number and ubiquity of microbes makes them vital for a variety of processes, from global carbon balance to antibiotic pathogenesis. However, we are still far from getting a clear picture of the ecological and evolutionary determinants shaping bacterial communities, which is necessary for the control and further development of any potential application. I am interested in the integration of top-down and bottom-up computational methods, combining statistical analysis from natural samples and genome-based models. My aim is to shed light on the complex relation between bacterial biodiversity and community function.
The relationship between biodiversity and stability in complex ecosystems has undergone a long debate involving intense theoretical research. I am interested in deciphering which is the role that the different species interactions have on this relationship, with particular emphasis on mutualistic interactions. Mutualism has been historically considered detrimental for biodiversity, overemphasizing the role of competition. We are challenging this view with a fresh perspective based on the importance of structural stability.
Protein structures play a fundamental role to understand the complex relationship between protein evoltuion and protein function. They allow us to incorporate physical principles into evolutionary analysis. My work aims to understand the effects that the different evolutionary events have in the protein structure, through the analysis of the topological properties of the protein structure space and the relationship between protein structures and protein sequences divergences, among other questions.
I am also interested in broad questions related to complex biological systems, such as emergent behaviours, community-level functioning or group selection. I address these questions both from the philosophical and the methodological sides. I developed a novel framework to investigate epistemological questions, and also contributed computational tools to work with complex networks, an important representation of complex systems widely used in modern reseearch, and present in most of my work.