Fellow of the month

Ainara Sistiaga


Ainara Sistiaga is a molecular geoarchaeologist with a broad background in human evolution and the application of lipidomics to paleodietary studies. In particular, she combines the research fields of organic geochemistry, evolutionary biology and microbiology by studying the lipids produced by gut bacteria in modern and fossil samples. Ainara graduated with a MA in Prehistory from the University of La Laguna and a MSc in Organic Chemistry by the Université de Rennes 1. In 2015 she obtained her PhD from Universidad de La Laguna on omnivory and human evolution, where she explored the use of lipid biomarkers to study the diet during the Paleolithic.

Since then, Ainara has been a postdoc in MIT on the Summons Lab investigating lipids using combined mass spectrometric techniques. Ainara first joined the team as a NASA astrobiology postdoc investigating the paleonvironment of early human sites at Olduvai Gorge, but she also participated in Mars analogue experiments for the Mars Science Laboratory. In 2017 her project “Mind the Gut” was awarded a MSCA-GF postdoctoral fellowship with MIT and the University of Copenhagen, where she will spend the third year of the fellowship. Within the MSCA project, MIND THE GUT, Ainara intends to better understand the role of our microbial partners during human evolution and to advance the study of the ancestral human microbiome by applying a multiomic approach (lipid biomarkers, faecal proteomes and DNA) to study different microbiome substrates: modern and mummified intestinal material, and reference faecal material. To do so, MIND THE GUT is developing new markers of specific bacterial action applying lipidomic and proteomic tools to explore the diagenesis of microbiome substrates. Mind the Gut represents a stepping stone to the integration of the ancient microbiomes in the study of human evolution.


Jamal Toutouh

jamal_headshotDr. Jamal Toutouh obtained his PhD in Computer Engineering at the University of Malaga (Spain). His PhD research was focused on the use of algorithms inspired by nature, such as the evolution of the species or the behavior of the birds in a flock, to address smart city problems. Specifically, he tackled optimization problems related to smart mobility, smart traffic management, vehicular communications, etc., to improve efficiency and safety during road trips. His PhD dissertation, that he finished with the highest mark (Summa Cum Laude), was honored with three prestigious awards (Best PhD Thesis Award sponsored by the University Chair – Aytos-Berger Levrault – on the Development of Smart Governance, Best Spanish PhD Thesis in Smart Cities – sponsored by the Spanish Network on Research for Smart Cities, and Best PhD Thesis Award of the University of Malaga). He collaborates with several researchers of international institutions, such as the University of Luxembourg, the University of the Republic in Uruguay, CENTRIA in Finland, and the QMIC research center in Qatar, among others.

Dr. Jamal is currently a MSCA Global fellow at MIT (MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab), where he is going to explore the application of nature-inspired algorithms to an exciting new research field, Deep Learning. The main idea is to devise new methods based on co-evolutionary algorithms to train and optimize Deep Neural Networks to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the state-of-the-art methodology, and therefore, allow the use of Deep Learning in problems that currently are difficult to address. Jamal is additionally using this new Deep Learning methodology to two significant use cases for our society: cybersecurity and smart cities. Being at MIT allows him to work and connect with world-class researchers in the fields involved in his research.


Xiana Bueno:CROPPED-Bueno Garcia_0254

I am a sociologist and demographer at the Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics in Barcelona, and a Marie Skłodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellow since October 2016. I was thrilled to spend the two-year outgoing phase of the project in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. My research examines family and fertility patterns in postindustrial societies and the role of gender egalitarian attitudes and behaviors, labor-market conditions, and family policy provisions in family formation decisions in several country contexts. In my project, I combine qualitative and quantitative methodologies along three axes of comparative analysis: cross-country, longitudinal, and historical.

I encourage everyone seeking for research excellence and the internationalization of their careers to apply for a Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowships.