Program Overview

The MIT Physics of Living Systems Fellowship supports postdoctoral scholars in pursuing research in the dynamics of living and complex systems, from the molecular to population scales. The program aims to appoint two new Fellows per academic year for a three-year fellowship term each. Fellows are typically selected by means of an annual competition coordinated with the Pappalardo Fellowship competition in early September; biophysics and soft matter applicants for the Pappalardo Fellowship will be considered for both Fellowship programs. Candidates must be nominated by early September, and the complete application is then due a few weeks later.

All MIT Physics of Living Systems Fellows are provided with:

  • independence in selection and focus of research direction within the MIT Physics of Living Systems Group throughout their three-year fellowship term;
  • active mentoring and intellectual interactions fostered by the annual biophysics retreat, weekly seminar series, and weekly luncheons with faculty during the academic year;
  • a competitive annual stipend (currently $65,000) with an annual cost-of-living increase, combined with $2,000 per year in discretionary research funds; and
  • MIT Medical Affiliate health insurance coverage for Fellows and their dependents.

The PLS community thanks the Moore Foundation and private sources for supporting this program.

Current Fellows

foster-peter-9726Peter Foster (PLS Fellow, 2017 – 2020)

Peter Foster is interested in the self-organization of biological systems, and in active materials more broadly. His graduate work focused on pairing quantitative microscopy with theoretical modeling to understand the dynamics and internal architecture of non-equilibrium microtubule networks.


CROPPED-IMG_20140613_163732[1]David Gelbwaser (PLS Fellow, 2018 – 2021)

David is interested in open quantum systems and non-equilibrium systems. He would like to understand how energy transformation processes take place in living systems and how they are limited by the laws of thermodynamics. He has recently studied the differences between classical and quantum heat machines and how the laws of thermodynamics are applied to the quantum regime.

Josh Goldford (PLS Fellow, 2020 – 2023)

Josh is interested in metabolic modeling, with applications to microbial communities and the origin of life.



 Akshit Goyal (PLS Fellow, 2019 – 2022)

Akshit is interested in how competition and cooperation shape biological populations. He is especially interested in how these natural forces influence the form, function and fate of populations. Previously, he has used models and theory to study diversity, multistability and metabolic cooperation in microbial communities.


Samuel Melton (PLS Fellow, 2020-2023)

Sam is interested in information theory and statistical mechanics, and in particular how these tools can help us understand biological data. Previously, he has worked on inferring molecular circuits in development and high dimensional inference.


Dino Osmanovic (PLS Fellow, 2017 – 2020)

Dino’s interests are broadly focused on biological systems. He is currently working on understanding the dynamics of chromatin and host/microbiome co-evolution.



In addition to PLS and Pappalardo Fellows, the PLS also hosts other postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Sergey Belan (McDonnell Fellow)
  • Shreyas Gokhale (HFSP Fellow)
  • Sivan Pearl (HFSP Fellow)
  • Avihu Yona (HFSP Fellow)

Past Pappalardo and Physics of Living Systems Fellows

  • Margaret Gardel (Pappalardo Fellow, 2004 – 2005) is now an Associate Professor in the Physics Department at University of Chicago.
  • Guy Bunin (Pappalardo Fellow, 2013 – 2016) is now an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at the Technion in Israel.
  • Todd Gingrich (PLS Fellow, 2015 – 2018) is now an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at Northwestern University.
  • Jeff Gore (Pappalardo Fellow, 2007 – 2009) is now an Associate Professor here in the Department of Physics at MIT.
  • Jordan Horowitz (PLS Fellow, 2017 – 2018) is now an Assistant Professor in Biophysics and Complex Systems at the University of Michigan.
  • Kirill Korolev (Pappalardo Fellow, 2010-2013) is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Boston University.
  • Yoav Lahini (Pappalardo Fellow, 2012 – 2015) is a Senior Lecturer in  the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University.
  • Sarah Marzen (PLS Fellow, 2016 – 2019) is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the W. M. Keck Science Department at the Claremont colleges.
  • Alexandre Solon (PLS Fellow, 2015 – 2018) is a CNRS research scientist, LPTMC, Sorbonne Université
  • Arpita Upadhyaya (Pappalardo Fellow, 2002 – 2005) is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park.