I am a chemist that turned bioinformatician when realizing that the world would be a safer place without me in a chemistry lab. I started my career in genomics, analyzing and comparing the genomes of the first sequenced microorganisms. Then I started to focus my activity on metagenomics, creating several software tools and collaborating in the analysis of several novel metagenomes.
Currently, my interest is focused on the understanding of the functioning of diverse microbiomes. My particular holy grail is to produce knowledge and tools helping to predict the outcomes of perturbations on a given microbial community. This would allow also setting up the ideal conditions for the desired functioning of a particular microbiome. To do so, I use diverse techniques to analyze metagenomes, to recover genomes, to build models and to relating all of the above with environmental conditions.
When I am not in the lab, you will surely find me in the mountains. I am a passionate mountaineer. I am also interested in theatre, history, and travelling the world.
My scientific interest is to understand the ecology of aquatic microorganisms. Lately, I use genomics as a tool to generate hypotheses that can later be tested experimentally. I also like to study extreme or unusual environments to throw light on the functioning of more conventional ones. For example, hypersaline systems, karstic lakes, or the Polar waters illuminate particular aspects of the ecology of microorganisms that are more difficult to identify in temperate marine waters. Another area of research is the diversity of microorganisms, in particular the mechanisms maintaining a large number of rare bacteria in aquatic ecosystems.
I am also interested in outreach, relationships between art and science, biology of spirituality, fiction writing, and birding.
Fernando Puente Sánchez
During my time as a Ph. D. student I specialized in the study of extreme microbial ecosystems, using both classical and molecular techniques. While I began as a purely experimental microbial ecologist, I ended up drifting towards data analysis and computational biology. Currently, my work focuses on understanding how the different ecological forces affect the assembly of microbial communities, and how evolutionarily close microorganisms acquire different ecophysiological specializations. I strive not only to apply well-known protocols, but also to design novel analysis approaches that allow my collaborators and me to achieve the best possible understanding of microbial ecosystems.
Outside work, I like practicing martial arts, reading, and playing video games.
Beatriz Cámara Gallego
The very first time that I saw electron microcopy images of lithobiontic microbial communities, I become passionate about the functioning of this tiny world. Since then, my research career has been closely linked to the field of microbiology and its intersection with the geology. I have been mainly focused on the study of microbial communities inhabiting lithic substrates from different environments and the processes derived from microorganism-rock interactions using a combination of electron microscopy, molecular biology and phylogenetic approaches. However, in the last years, in a postdoctoral stage, I have glimpsed the necessity of immersing myself in the bioinformatics field. Currently, I am working on the optimization of computational methods to recover bacterial genomes from metagenomes, in an effort to understand the individual contributions of each taxon to the whole community.
In order not to go crazy with computational methods, I really like to disconnect my mind in swing dancing classes, riding a bicycle, baking, and visiting new places.
Marta Cobo Simón
Ph. D. student
I have a mixed background in evolutionary biology and bioinformatics. My first research experience was on the study of the phylogeography of freshwater fishes, which combined phylogenetic, geographic, and population structure analysis. During my Ph. D. I have acquired bioinformatics knowledge in high-throughput analyses, particularly in metagenomics of marine microorganisms and microbial genomics. My efforts in the lab concentrate on relating genomic characteristics to different environments and intra-specific genetic variations with environmental conditions. A short stay in KU Leuven (Belgium) introduced me to the development of co-occurrence networks. I am also interested in host-microbiome co-evolution.
In my free time I like traveling, swimming and all type of cultural activities, such as visiting museums, theater or just reading a good book. But, above all, I love learning new things and I adore animals. I also actively participate in popularization of science events.
Natalia García García
Ph. D. student
I am a biotechnologist who opted to specialize in Microbiology. I started my scientific career in an experimental laboratory where I worked with yeasts. Nonetheless, recently I had the great opportunity to explore the thrilling world of the oceans through their microorganisms. Currently, I am about to start my Ph.D. in Microbiology analyzing the microdiversity of the oceans and other environments based on metagenomes and linking this to specific environmental conditions. In addition to my interest in microbial communities, marine symbiosis has caught my eye too. Therefore, I am developing my skills as a bioinformatician.
When I have leisure time, I love to run away from the city and rediscover Nature. I enjoy broadening my horizons and learning from life, so I try to travel around the world and read as much as I can. Nevertheless, if there is anything that has always fascinated me, it is the sea and all the secrets it conceals. That is also the reason why I attempt to go whenever I have the chance.
Diego Jiménez Lalana
Ph. D. student
During my academic studies as biologist and biotechnologist, I sought an integrated profile. I completed my academic degrees in different laboratories of diagnosis in animal health; development of kits to detect pathogens; isolation of bacterial strains, scaling up of cultures to bioreactor level, extraction methods to find antitumor compounds, and directed evolution in yeasts, applying HTS protocols to evolve ligninolytic consortium enzymes. Furthermore, I have got an education in pest management and biosafety strategies too. At this moment, I want to develop my Ph. D. describing the microbial interactions in the bosom of microbiomes helping to build a metabolic model. The plan is to use different media and conditions to identify experimentally co-occurrence networks in growth experiments, learning to manage these communities.
In other environments, I enjoy being in Nature and collaborating in different science-related associations, practicing traditional martial arts, and learning all type of new things.
Natalia García García
I am a Biologist and my interest is to understand how living organisms and ecosystems function, especially in the ocean. Therefore, I specialized in the field of Microbiology where I am currently working on a metagenomic analysis of Arctic time series for my Master’s Thesis.
Last year, I went on an exchange visit to the Netherlands where I met people all over the world who I would love to visit. In the meantime, I like to spend my time doing sports with friends, reading and watching TED talks.
Luis Alberto Macías Pérez
I have always been driven by curiosity and an innate interest in science. I studied biotechnology charmed by a flourishing field where new technologies are constantly incorporated and major breakthroughs are frequent. I am interested in microbial biotechnology as a way to improve the quality of nature and life of a population that grows with an unsustainable consumption of resources. I am currently working on my master’s thesis, which is focused on the study of metagenomic data from the Arctic Ocean to identify groups of microorganisms and functions that vary from late winter to summer. I am looking forward to developing my bioinformatics skills since, in the future, I would like to combine experimental and computational solutions in order to tackle the current and the upcoming challenges of biotechnology.
Apart from science, I enjoy discovering new places and appreciating art in all its forms of expression.