From ObseRving to Modelling oceAn Life

FORMAL aims to study the dynamics of life in the ocean at various spatial and temporal scales. It will build on the huge quantity of various marine data (omics, imaging, acoustics, satellite) that has been acquired by the members of the team on marine life (viruses, bacteria, plankton, fish), either at global scale (e.g. Tara Oceans) or at long-term observatories (e.g. the time-series data from the 3 marine stations of Sorbonne Université).

The scientific objectives are:
  1. to develop new methods to analyse and combine high throughput data in oceanography,
  2. to improve existing marine ecosystem models through data assimilation, and develop new statistical and mechanistic models to represent the dynamics of biological systems in the ocean, and
  3. to structure the scientific community at SU working on the analysis of marine data and on the modelling of ocean life, both in Paris and in the 3 marine stations of SU.


  • New! The videos of the presentations of the first FORMAL Webinar on “Marine Big Data” and organised on June 18th 2020 are available on the webinar webpage.
  • The deadline for applying to our post-doc offer in applied mathematics and ecosystem modelling in Paris has been extended to May 31th.
  • Given the current pandemic situation, our activities such as our monthly seminars and our annual workshop have been postponed until further notice. Stay safe, stay home!
  • The first FORMAL workshop on “Marine data” IS POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE will be held on Friday 15th May 2020 at ISCD in Paris: More information will come soon.
  • Two post-doc positions at FORMAL/ISCD are open! One in applied mathematics and ecosystem modelling in Paris, the other on machine learning and plankton imaging in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Please apply if you are interested!
  • To be informed of our future activities, please register here.


Scientific Coordinators

Dr. Sakina-Dorothée Ayata, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche-sur-Mer, Sorbonne Université

Benoit Sarels
Dr. Benoît Sarels, Laboratoire J.L. Lions, Sorbonne Université


Major research units connected with the team:

  • Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche-sur-mer (LOV), Sorbonne Université, Villefranche-sur-mer.
  • Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Sorbonne Université, Paris.
  • Laboratoire J.L. Lions (LJLL), UMR 7598, Sorbonne Université, Paris.
  • Laboratoire de Biologie Intégrative des Modèles Marins (LBIM2), Sorbonne Université, Roscoff.
  • LOCEAN, Sorbonne Université, Paris.
  • Genoscope, CEA, Evry-sur-Seine.