Olivier Marre

I did a PhD working on how the visual cortex encodes natural stimuli, using a combination of modeling and experiments. I then did a post-doc working on population coding in the retina. I am currently a “Research Director” (Principal Investigator) in the Vision Institute. I am interested in how the retina processes natural scenes, and how the retinal circuit implements the computations performed by ganglion cells. I have always worked at the interface between theory and experiments.

Matthew Chalk

Principal Investigator

I am interested in how neural circuits transmit and transform incoming sensory signals, allowing us to perceive and interact with our surroundings. I address this question by constructing theoretical models of neural activity in low-level visual areas, such as the retina and primary visual cortex. I use these models to discover principles that account for the observed patterns of neural activity in these areas. For example, neurons in low-level visual areas are thought to encode simple aspects of visual scenes, such as local motion, and changes in contrast. I am interested in understanding how they do this, and how such functional objectives play a role in determining the dynamics and connectivity of neural circuits. See my website for more information.

Ulisse Ferrari

Principal Investigator

My research’s interests focus on the collective behavior of heterogeneous ensembles, ranging from complex systems in statistical mechanics, to neuronal networks in computational neuroscience and viral vectors variants in directed evolution. During my PhD with G. Parisi and L. Leuzzi, I have worked on the dynamical behavior of Spin Glasses, lattice systems with disordered interactions. Ever since, my aim has been to understand how neurons work collectively to encode and transmit information, both in the retina or in the cortex. More recently, I have started working on the engineering of viral vectors using directed evolution to improve gene therapy in the retina. To achieve these goals, I’m combining statistical physics, machine learning and information theory and I’m working on massive biological data in close collaboration with my experimental colleagues.

Sarah Goethals

Joint researcher Essilor – Institut de la Vision

I am currently working on a project in collaboration with Essilor, aiming at better understanding the role of the retinal circuit in myopia progression. Before joining Olivier Marre’s team, I did my PhD at the Vision Institute under the supervision of Dr. Romain Brette. I investigated both theoretically and experimentally the link between neuron’s morphology and excitability. More specifically, we studied the impact of the axon initial segment geometry on excitability, using biophysical models and patch-clamp recordings.

Matías Goldin

Principal Investigator

I am interested in the mechanisms that the brain uses to achieve simple motor actions and sense complex features. Being trained in modeling as a physicist I try to understand nature using simple explanations. I am also an experimentalist, and believe that discoveries come from the experiment-model-experiment virtuous closed-loop: a well designed experiment -> followed by proper analyses -> rendering an intelligent model -> that predicts new experimental results.

I am currently working to understand how visual information is encoded by the retinal circuit. For this, I use two perturbative approaches: 1) I generate slight modifications to the retinal input by perturbing visual stimulations, and 2) I perturb the retinal circuit in its middle layer targeting neurons with patterned holographic optogenetics. To understand the effect of these perturbations, I simultaneously record hundreds of ganglion cells, the output of the retina, using multi-electrode-arrays and model their responses using convolutional neural networks.

Tobias Kühn


The collective behavior of neurons and its relation to information processing in the retina fascinates me. Being a physicist by training, I like working with simple models like the maximum-entropy approach and its relatives, hoping that studying them gives insights about how the retina contributes to master the enormous flow of sensory information it receives.

After studying physics and mathematics in Aachen and Amiens, I have applied methods from statistical physics to different fields, mostly neuroscience, both during my PhD studies at the Research Centre Jülich and my time as postdoc at ENS and Université Paris Cité.

Samuele Virgili

PhD student

My career goal is to extend and improve the use of mathematical modelling in Neuroscience, in order to reach a solid understanding of sensory processing, both at the single cell and at the population level. Currently, I am working on a visual stimulation approach that makes use of perturbations combined with modelling to investigate the response properties of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) [1]. Here my Scholar profile.

Bio: I have started my PhD with Olivier Marre in December 2020, sponsored by the Marie-Curie EU fellowship EnTRAIN Vision. I am a  physicist by training. I have studied general physics and biophysics at Sapienza University of Rome. For my master thesis project I worked in the lab of Dr. Hiroki Asari at EMBL Rome, where I discovered quantitative research in Neuroscience and in particular on the retina.

Thomas Buffet

PhD student

I studied biology and I am now interested in systems neurosciences, extending my skills to big data analysis and modelling. I study the mechanisms of motion processing in the retina, with a focus on dynamic modulation of neuron activity and inhibitory interneurons.

Déborah Varro

PhD student

I am a PhD student working with Pierre Yger and Olivier Marre to find the role of a specific type of amacrine cells in the retinal circuit. I perform experiments combining 2 photon holographic stimulation and MEA recordings.

Gabriel Mahuas

I am a PhD student working with Ulisse Ferrari and Thierry Mora on population coding in the retina.

Tommaso Ocari

PhD student

My research interest consists in applying models borrowed from statistical mechanics and machine learning to massive data coming from genetics and protein evolution experiments. In particular my PhD project concerns using statistical modeling in order to design new vectors for retinal gene therapy. This project is part of a collaboration between Ulisse Ferrari and Deniz Dalkara.

About me, I got my bachelor in Physics in 2019 and my master in Theoretical Physics and Statistical Mechanics in 2021 at University of Milan. I joined the lab of Olivier Marre during my master internship.

Carlo Paris

I am a PhD student working with Ulisse Ferrari on population coding in the retina. Previously I worked in physics and also in visual psychophysics.

Awen Louboutin

Research Engineer

I graduated from France’s engineering school Arts et Métiers as an engineer in mechanics, energetic and industry and specialized in biomedical engineering and neuroscience. I like to learn and want to make a good use of my versatility to help science and technology progress.

Simone Azeglio

PhD Student