PONTE Postdoctoral Program in Theoretical Quantitative Biology

A program for graduates in physics, mathematics, engineering or a related discipline to perform research in theoretical quantitative biology hand in hand with experimentalists.

Fellows that bridge between exact sciences and biology 

The Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência invites graduates in physics, mathematics, engineering or a related discipline to apply for the newly established PONTE Program. The PONTE fellows will be key figures in accomplishing the institute’s mission of bridging biology with the exact sciences. 

To this end, PONTE fellows are encouraged to work independently, by developing projects in collaboration with members of one or multiple IGC research groups. To accommodate for this independence, the PONTE fellowship runs for a period of three years. During this period, fellows will enjoy excellent working conditions as well as playing a fundamental role in the development of theoretical and quantitative biology at IGC. 



The fellowships 

The PONTE fellows will be appointed for an initial two-year period, with the possibility of extension to a third year. In order to facilitate their life at IGC, fellows will be provided with: 

  • funding for personal computing equipment;
  • relocation subsidy;
  • private and public health coverage;
  • flexible start date. 

Furthermore, to facilitate the success of their research, PONTE fellows will have the possibility of:

  • access to computational facilities
  • yearly funding for traveling and hosting visitor
  • hosting one Friday seminar speaker per year
  • organize PONTE quantitative biology winter school
  • join the local PhD training in Integrative Biology
  • involvement in the selection process of subsequent fellows


The fellows 

Upon their arrival, the PONTE fellows are expected to interact with different research groups, by attending to their group meeting, discussing with group members, etc. After this initial exploratory period (and with assistance of the program coordinators as needed), the fellows are expected to outline a research program. It is expected that the fellows’ research is collaborative, involving local groups. Collaborative projects bridging among two or more research groups are especially welcome. 

In addition to carrying their research, PONTE fellows are expected to be an active part of the IGC community. To this end, they will attend and participate in seminars, as well as using the benefits of their position to invite speakers, and increasing the overall exposure to theoretical biology at IGC. 


Lorenzo Fant
PONTE Fellow, 2022

Lorenzo is a postdoc working in theoretical ecology and evolution. He has a background in theoretical physics and obtained his Ph.D. in SISSA (Italy) with a thesis on “Stochastic ecology and evolution in bacterial communities.” He moved to the IGC after a short postdoc at Granada University. His main research interest is modeling eco-evolutionary phenomena, following both theory and data-driven approaches. He mainly focuses on two aspects of ecology and evolution: the characterization of the stable state of ecological communities at evolutionary equilibrium and, on the other hand, the effects of environmental stochasticity and ecological interactions on the evolution of individual traits.

More info

Adolfo Alsina
PONTE Fellow, 2021

Adolfo studied Mathematics and Physics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) and has a Master degree in Soft Matter and Biological Physics ( École Normale Supérieure – ENS). After an internship at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), he moved to Germany to pursue a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPIPKS). In his research he studies biological systems using methods from non-equilibrium statistical physics, machine learning and stochastic processes, focusing in the emergence of collective behavior as a result of complex multi-scale interactions. 

More info


David Soriano-Paños
PONTE Fellow, 2021

David Soriano-Paños obtained his PhD at the University of Zaragoza, where he got also his Bachelor’s Degree and Master in Physics in 2016 and 2017 respectively. His research is devoted to the study of complex systems through the lens of statistical physics, nonlinear dynamics and network science, especially focusing on the interplay between human mobility and the spread of communicable diseases.

More info



The environment 

The Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência hosts research groups in diverse areas of biology, ranging from animal behavior to microbial evolution and theoretical biophysics. The institute hosts excellent research facilities, including electron microscopy, advanced imaging facility, flow cytometry and others. 

The computational facilities include:

  • biodata cluster: 16 nodes, each with 20cores and 128GB RAM, plus 2 nodes with 20cores and 1.5TB RAM. All this attached to over 100TB of SSD storage.
  • slurm cluster: 4 nodes, each with 64 cores and 512 GB RAM plus 12TB of SSD scratch space. 

In addition, the institute has an excellent track record of funding with international organizations including ERC, EMBO, HFSP and others.

Besides its broad scientific scope, the institute hosts a highly diverse cultural environment, with people from over 44 nationalities, and has a 56% female to male ratio. The Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência is ideally located in the coastal town of Oeiras, 15 minutes outside of Lisbon by public transport.


Previous fellows

Due to its short life there are no PONTE alumni yet. However, prior to the PONTE program IGC ran a precursor program (Biology by Numbers) for two years. Selected postdoctoral researchers were offered advanced biology courses for one semester, and given the chance to start quantitative biology research for another semester.

Estefanía Munoz Hoyos
Biology by Numbers Fellow, 2020

Estefanía obtained her doctorate at the National University of Colombia and her MSc at the University of Brasilia. Her research has focused on modelling ecological systems forced by climate variables through a combination of stochastic, physical, and numerical tools. While at IGC she obtained training in Biological Sciences and developed a research project on how plant-microbe symbiosis widens the habitability range of the Daisyworld. Currently, she holds a postdoctoral position at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany, where she studies the carbon-water exchange under stochastic atmospheric CO2 concentration.  


Cécile Carrère
Biology by Numbers Fellow, 2019

Cécile studied Mathematics at ENS Cachan and received her PhD in Applied Mathematics at Aix-Marseille Université. Her PhD research focused on the optimization of chemotherapy schedules using optimal control theory, and was followed by a Postdoc within the same topic at the Sorbonne University. While at IGC she collaborated with the Bacterial Signalling Lab. Since 2020, she is Maitre de Conférence (assistant professor) at the Université d’Orléans. Her research concerns structured populations in the gut microbiota, studying their phenotypic and spatial repartition.


Updated on 26 september 2023

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