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Marcel Weiss

Marcel Weiss

PhD Student

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
47 Bateman Street
Cambridge CB2 1LR

Cambridge CB2 1LR


Before starting my PhD at Cambridge in the research group of Sebastian Ahnert, I completed my Bachelor and Master studies in Physics at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, with exchange stays at Imperial College London and the University of Parma. In my Bachelor project, under the supervision of Sandro Wimberger, I studied the steering of random walks with kicked ultracold atoms. In my Master project, under the supervision of Ulrich Schwarz, I switched to theoretical biophysics and studied the stochastic dynamics of small ensembles of myosin II motors. In my PhD, I am now focusing on evolution and in particular on genotype-phenotype maps.

Research Interests

The mapping between biological genotypes and phenotypes fundamentally influences evolution as mutations take place on the level of genotypes, while selection applies on the level of phenotypes. My research focuses on studying the properties of these genotype-phenotype (GP) maps. In general, real biological GP maps are extraordinarily complex and analysing their properties can be a challenging task. For this reason, I primarily work with abstract or computationally tractable models of GP maps, like that of RNA secondary structure.

Schematic illustration of a genotype-phenotype (GP) map

Schematic illustration of a genotype-phenotype (GP) map.

Key Publications

Weiß, M, Ahnert SE. (2020) Using small samples to estimate neutral component size and robustness in the genotype–phenotype map of RNA secondary structureJournal of the Royal Society Interface, 17: 20190784.

Weiß, M. and Ahnert, SE. (2018). Phenotypes can be robust and evolvable if mutations have non-local effects on sequence constraints, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 15: 20170618.

Weiß, M., Groiseau, C., Lam, W. K., Burioni, R., Vezzani, A., Summy, G.S., and Wimberger, S. (2015). Steering random walks with kicked ultracold atoms. Physical Review A, 92,033606.

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