Juan Bonachela is a theoretical biologist at Rutgers University. His research focuses on understanding, from an ecological and evolutionary point of view, the: interaction between plasticity and evolution in marine phytoplankton and viruses; the emergence of multi-scale spatiotemporal patterns and their consequences for marine and terrestrial ecosystems; and how to characterize ecological transitions and ameliorate their potential catastrophic effects. Bonachela and his group aim to reach a mechanistic understanding of, and improve predictions for, the systems they study through an integrative approach combining mathematical, computational and statistical methods with empirical work. This approach aims at producing theories that can explain the observed patterns and lead to new hypotheses that can be tested in the laboratory or the field.
Bonachela received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Granada in Spain. He spent his postdoctoral years in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, where he applied his statistical physics background to a wide variety of biological problems, from the plastic response of phytoplankton cells to changes in nutrient availability, to the spatial dynamics of fauna-vegetation interactions in semiarid ecosystems. As a faculty member, Bonachela has continued to develop a multidisciplinary way of looking at biological problems, first at the University of Strathclyde in the U.K. and now at Rutgers University.