Ricard Solé

ICREA Research professor, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Research Themes

Synthetic biology, Terraformation, evolution of complex systems

Short Bio

I am ICREA research professor (the Catalan Institute for research and Advanced Studies) currently working at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where I'm the head of the Complex Systems Lab located at the PRBB. I teach undergraduate courses on Biomathematics, biological design and complex diseases. I completed degrees in both Physics and Biology at the University of Barcelona and received my PhD in Physics at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. I am also External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute (New Mexico, USA) and external faculty of the Center for Evolution and Cancer at UCSF. I am also member of the editorial board of Biology Direct and PLoS ONE.

My current research focuses in understanding the evolutionary origins of complex systems, using both mathematical models and experimental approaches based on synthetic biology. I have proposed the concept of Synthetic Major Transitions as a unifying framework to explore the origins of innovation in evolution using a parallel approach, namely our potential for building or simulating synthetic systems that can recreate past evolutionary events. This includes the origin of protocells, multicellular systems, symbiosis, cognition and language. Another research area deals with Unstable Evolutionary dynamics, namely the dynamics of biological systems (particularly RNA viruses and cancer) that exhibit a tendency towards high genetic instability as part of their adaptation potential. Moreover, I also introduced the concept of "Terraforming" endangered or human-made ecosystems to avoid catastrophic shifts. The success of this proposal will require the development of a new synthesis involving multiple scales and conceptual frameworks, from synthetic biology and cellular circuits to ecological communities.


Last update: 04/03/2021