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Meet the group


Ruben Perez-Carrasco is a researcher who is passionate about understanding the basic dynamical rules of life by working in the interface of Biology, Mathematics, and Physics. He earned his PhD in Physics on the “Mechano-chemical study of rotatory molecular Motors” at the University of Barcelona in 2013, before moving to the Mathematics Department at University College London to employ tools from stochastic dynamical systems theory to explore the principles of timing in cellular transitions during embryonic development and synthetic biology. In 2017, he became an independent researcher as a Clifford Fellow at UCL. Since 2020, he is a lecturer in theoretical systems biology in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London where his group studies how the timing and precision of cellular decisions are controlled from molecules to tissues, focusing in problems of developmental and synthetic biology.
When he is not in the office you might find him playing the clarinet with the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble. In his free time, he also enjoys sketching around London.

Charlotte Manser is a PhD student in the group with a passion for applying mathematical tools to solve complex biological problems. After completing an undergraduate degree in mathematics at Cambridge University in 2020, she went on to pursue a master’s degree in Systems Biology at the same institution, which she completed in 2021. Currently, she is investigating the mechanisms behind how different species undergo the same processes at different speeds, despite having evolutionarily conserved genetic programs. Leveraging her background in mathematics, Charlotte is taking a theoretical approach to her research, using dynamical systems to solve this complex problem, shedding light on this fundamental biological question and contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying life itself.

Smitha Maretvadakethope is a postdoc in theoretical systems biology with a passion for curiosity-driven problems in mathematical biology and fluid dynamics. She has a particular interest in understanding cell dynamics, whether it be active suspensions of swimming microorganisms, organelle dynamics like flagella or cilia, or the internal dynamical systems that govern cell behaviours and gene expression. Smitha completed all of her higher education at Imperial College London, where she completed a BSc in Mathematics (2015), an MSc in Applied Mathematics (2016), and joined the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Fluid Dynamics Across Scales completing an MRes (2017) and PhD (2020). Her PhD was on the topic of “Synchronisation and dynamics of model cilia and flagella.” Afterwards, she joined the University of Liverpool as a postdoc studying the effects of shape, shear, and diffusion on microswimmer suspension dynamics and their boundary encounter interactions, captured through stochastic cell modelling and probability density continuum modelling. Now back at Imperial, she is studying synthetic tipping points to reveal the rules of gene critical timers inspired by bacterial cell-autonomous clocks and differentiation transitions in embryonic development. She is particularly interested in studying how coexisting critical points control timing dynamics in the presence of static, intrinsic, and extrinsic noise.

Daniel O’Hanlon is a postdoc at the group. He completed his PhD in particle physics at the University of Warwick in 2017, studying the amplitude structure of many-body decays at CERN’s LHCb experiment. I continued on this topic as a postdoc at INFN Bologna and the University of Bristol, where additionally I worked on machine learning for particle identification and algorithms for track reconstruction on novel parallel computing hardware. I was also privileged to hold several positions of responsibility within the LHCb collaboration. Prior to coming to Imperial I was a research fellow at EMBL-EBI, where I worked on the analysis of large double knock-out CRISPR screens (in collaboration with experimental colleagues at the Sanger Institute), and on describing genetic interactions with graph neural networks. In Ruben’s group, I develop simulation-based inference methods and models of cell competition to describe live-cell imaging data. His research interests centre around using machine learning to solve problems in biological modelling, and how these models can incorporate experimental data to understand, predict, and engineer biological systems. I also maintain an interest in hardware and software for automated data acquisition; and tools for the analysis of large unbiased datasets, such as single-cell RNASeq and metagenomics.  In general, you will find me wherever there are fun things to do with computers.

Emma Wei is an MRes Bioinformatics and Theoretical Systems Biology student in the group. Prior to joining Imperial College, they completed an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at UCL, specialising in genetics and statistics. They are now investigating using deep learning to decode enhancer logic. In collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute, they are applying computational techniques to genomic data. In their free time, Emma enjoys weightlifting and reading.

Sergio Garcia Busto is a Masters student in the MRes in Bioinformatics and Theoretical Systems Biology course. He graduated in Biochemistry with a Year in Industry from UCL in which he specialised in computational biology. He also completed a year-long industrial placement at Nxera Pharma (formerly Sosei Heptares), acquiring extensive wet laboratory experience in structural biology. Sergio’s mainly interested in using computational, statistical and artificial intelligence (AI) methods to provide solutions in the life sciences. During the MRes, he completed a group project researching Bayesian deep learning methods for parameterizing gene regulatory networks. He is currently developing an implementation of a novel feature selection technique for single-cell data in collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute. He enjoys art, music, nature, fitness and debating philosophical and controversial topics

Elephes Sung is a PhD student and the first Homo Sapiens from Mars to visit Earth. He is a fossil hunter, gardener, hiker, and avid audience member of special Yangqin & Erhu performances. His research focuses on integrating experiments and theoretical modelling to explore the complex interactions in immuno-oncology, aiming for a comprehensive understanding of the tumour immune microenvironment at a systems level. He completed a bachelor’s degree in Nanomaterials & Nanotechnology (Nanomedicine). During the undergraduate study, his favourite courses include Physical Chemistry and Molecular Biology, and his favourite techniques include scanning electron microscopy and flow cytometry.  After completing a bachelor’s, he pursued an MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology at Imperial College where he investigates the dynamics in NK-tumour interactions. Awarded the President’s PhD Scholarship, he continues his research and crazy ideas at the Perez-Carrasco group. He welcomes discussions at