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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory


Sebastian Ahnert read physics (BA Hons) and mathematics (Part III) at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge before completing a PhD in the TCM group at the Cavendish Laboratory under Professor Mike Payne. During his PhD he became interested in the growing interface between statistical physics and biology and afterwards took up a postdoc at the Institut Curie in Paris. He returned to the Cavendish for a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, during which he spend six months at Northeastern University in Boston visiting the group of Professor Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. In 2009 he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to work on quantitative measures of structural complexity in self-assembling systems, and in 2016 he took up a joint position between the Cavendish Laboratory and the Sainsbury Laboratory, as Gatsby Career Development Fellow.


My main research interests lie on the interface of theoretical physics, biology, mathematics and computer science. I am particularly interested in using algorithmic descriptions of structures and functional systems in order to quantify and classify their complexity. Examples of the application of such approaches include pattern detection in gene expression data, the classification of protein quaternary structure and the identification of large-scale features in complex networks. 


Key publications: 
  • Principles of assembly reveal a periodic table of protein complexes SE Ahnert, JA Marsh, H Hernández, CV Robinson, SA Teichmann, Science 350 6626 1331 & aaa2245 (2015)
  • A tractable genotype-phenotype map modelling the self-assembly of protein quaternary structure. SF Greenbury, IG Johnston, AA Louis and SE Ahnert, J. Roy. Soc. Interface 11 20140249 (2014)
  • The rich club of the C. elegans neuronal connectome. EK Towlson, PE Vértes, SE Ahnert, WR Schafer and ET Bullmore, J. Neurosci. 33 6380 - 6387   (2013)
  • Flavor network and the principles of food pairing Y-Y Ahn, SE Ahnert, JP Bagrow and A-L Barabási, Scientific Reports 1 (2011) 
  • Oscillating gene expression determines competence for periodic Arabidopsis root branching. MA Moreno-Risueno, JM Van Norman, A Moreno, J Zhang, SE Ahnert and PN Benfey, Science 329 1306 - 1311 (2010)
  • Self-assembly, modularity, and physical complexity. SE Ahnert, IG Johnston, TM Fink, JP Doye and AA Louis, Phys. Rev. E 82 026117 (2010) 
  • Unbiased pattern detection in microarray data series. SE Ahnert, Willbr, K , FC Brown and TM Fink, Bioinformatics 22 1471 - 1476 (2006)
Gatsby Career Development Fellow
King's College, Fellow and Director of Studies
Dr. Sebastian  Ahnert

Contact Details

Room 542 Mott Building
Cavendish Laboratory
JJ Thomson Avenue
+44 (0)1223 337377