Nora Martin

Nora MartinNora Martin

Systems and Synthetic Biology

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Systems and Synthetic Biology
Barcelona Collaboratorium Independent Fellow
Nora Martin

Systems and Synthetic Biology

Barcelona Collaboratorium Independent Fellow
Nora Martin


From July 2023 - Independent Collaboratorium Fellow, Barcelona Collaboratorium for Modelling and Predictive Biology, Barcelona, Spain
2021-2023 - Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, UK
2017-2022 -PhD as a Gates Cambridge scholar, Sainsbury Laboratory & Department of Physics, University of Cambridge, UK


Biological complexity at all levels, from single molecules to organisms, is a product of evolution. Therefore, quantitative and predictive models of evolution could have applications for a range of biological questions, from the evolution of disease-causing viruses to the analysis of evolved sequences in rapidly growing macromolecular databases.

My work uses modelling and theory to elucidate a key component of quantitative models of evolution: molecular and phenotypic changes introduced by variation through random mutations. This is addressed using the general framework of a genotype-phenotype (GP) map. GP maps describe how genotypic changes are translated to higher-order phenotypic characteristics. One central model in the field focuses on mutational changes in folded RNA secondary structures. Results from established models like RNA have a broad relevance because they can often be applied to other examples, ranging from other macromolecules to beyond the molecular scale. By improving such GP map models, my aim is to increase their biological realism and thus make progress towards models that can be compared directly to the rapidly increasing amount of available biological data.

Job Openings

If you are interested in our research and would like to discuss possibilities of joining the group, please get in touch - I would love to hear from you!

Funding Acknowledgements


Full list of Publications



*Corresponding Author
1Organizing and leading authors; contributed equally to this work; S. Manrubia is the corresponding author. A reply to comments was published in 2022 with the same co-authors.


N.S. Martin*, S.E. Ahnert.
The Boltzmann distributions of folded molecular structures predict likely changes through random mutations.
bioRxiv (2023): 2023-02 DOI:10.1101/2023.02.22.529545.
N.S. Martin*, S.E. Ahnert
Thermodynamics and neutral sets in the RNA sequence-structure map.
EPL, 139: 37001 (2022). DOI:10.1209/0295-5075/ac7c34
N.S. Martin*, S.E. Ahnert
Fast free-energy-based neutral set size estimates for the RNA genotype-phenotype map.
J. R. Soc. Interface 19: 20220072 (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2022.0072
N.S. Martin*, S.E. Ahnert
Insertions and deletions in the RNA sequence–structure map
J. R. Soc. Interface 18: 20210380 (2021) DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0380
S. Manrubia1, J.A. Cuesta1, J. Aguirre, S.E. Ahnert, L. Altenberg, A.V. Cano, P. Catalán, R. Diaz-Uriarte, S.F. Elena, J.A. García-Martín, P. Hogeweg, B.S. Khatri, J. Krug, A.A. Louis, N.S. Martin, J.L Payne, M.J. Tarnowski, M. Weiß.
From genotypes to organisms: State-of-the-art and perspectives of a cornerstone in evolutionary dynamics
Physics of Life Reviews 38: 55-106 (2021).DOI: 10.1016/j.plrev.2021.03.004