Antonio Celani (International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy), Jacopo Grilli (International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy), Simon Levin (Princeton University, USA) and Matteo Marsili (International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy)
30 November 2020 to 18 December 2020

The Winter School on Quantitative System Biology has been held every year since 2012 at ICTP in Trieste, Italy and ICTS in Bangalore, India in alternating years.

The topic of the 2020 School is Ecosystems Ecology, with a special focus on quantitative methods and modelling techniques.

Ecology views biological systems as composed of many interdependent parts, whose interactions between themselves and the environment span a wide range of spatial and temporal scales (from cells to the biosphere). This incredible complexity of interactions parallels often with the simplicity of emergent statistical patterns of abundance and biodiversity, as well as nutrient cycling. Describing quantitatively the dynamics of populations, communities and ecosystems requires therefore a broad range of mathematical and modelling techniques. Thanks to new experimental and sequencing techniques, community and ecosystem ecology are experiencing a revolution, as they are transitioning from a traditionally data-poor discipline to a data-rich one. This change presents new challenges and new possibilities for ecologists, physicists, and mathematicians around the world.

This advanced school will focus on ecosystems, and it aims at providing an integrated perspective of both experimental and theoretical approaches.

The topics covered include:

• Ecological networks;
• Population and community dynamics;
• Macroecology, including ecosystems and landscapes;
• Ecological interactions;
• Ecological Communities in-vitro.

Ecology has extremely important applications, from environmental preservation to disease eradication. Most ecologists in the majority of developing countries have strong applied expertise, but they are not up to date with the most recent theoretical and quantitative tools and results. Applied ecologists, with some quantitative background, could strongly benefit from this school, both in terms of exposure to fundamental questions in ecology, and of quantitative methods that they could apply to their research. On the other hand, the strong expertise in quantitative and theoretical tools (e.g., dynamical systems theory, stochastic processes, random matrix theory) of physicists and mathematicians from developing countries is sometimes dissipated to study problems of secondary relevance. This school could offer them exposure to up-to-date problems in quantitative ecology, where those theoretical tools could find interesting and novel applications.


1. S. Levin (Princeton University, USA)
2. J. Grilli (ICTP, Italy)
3. M. Marsilli (ICTP, Italy)

Local Organiser:

Antonio Celani (ICTP, Italy)


1. S. Allesina (University of Chicago, USA)
2. J. Bascompte (University of Zurich, Switzerland)
3. D. Fisher (Stanford University, USA)
4. M. Gatto (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
5. V. Guttal (Center for Ecological Sciences, IISc, India)
6. J. Levine (Princeton University, USA)
7. A. Maritan (University of Padua, Italy)
8. J. O'Dwyer (University of Illinois, USA)
9. M. Pascual (University of Chicago, USA)
10. A. Rinaldo (EPFL, Switzerland)
11. A. Sanchez (Yale University, USA)
12. D. Segre (Boston University, USA)
13. C. Satver (Yale University, USA)
14. J. Weitz (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
15. J. Yeakel (University of California, MERCED, USA)
*to be confirmed

Scientific Advisory Committee:

V. Balasubramanian (University of Pennsylvania, USA)
A. Celani (ICTP, Italy)
​​S. Jain (University of Delhi, India)
V. Krishnamurthy (ICTS, Bangalore, India)
M. Marsili (ICTP, Italy)
M. Thattai (National Centre for Biological Sciences, India)

Previous editions of this school

This Winter School is part of the joint ICTP-ICTS Programme in Biology.

This is the ninth school in the series on Quantitative Systems Biology,  held alternately in Trieste and Bengaluru, and will be conducted online this year.

How to apply: Online application

Deadline: November 15, 2020

Female scientists are encouraged to apply.


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