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Professor

Photo of  Iain D. Couzin
Iain D. Couzin Professor Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Other Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA
Website: Visit Website

Iain joined the Princeton faculty in late 2007. Previously he was Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and Junior Research Fellow in the Sciences at Balliol College, Oxford. He did his PhD in Biology at the University of Bath, UK, with Professor Nigel R. Franks. His work aims to reveal the fundamental principles that underlie evolved collective behavior, and consequently his research includes the study of a wide range of biological systems, from brain tumors to insect swarms, fish schools and human crowds. His favourite band is the Pixies. He is a member of the Faculty of 1000 Biology and in recognition of his research he was recipient of a Searle Scholar Award in 2008, the Mohammed Dahleh Award in 2009, Popular Science Magazines “Brilliant 10″ award in 2010, PopTech Science and Public Leadership award in 2011 and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award in 2012.

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Post Doctoral Fellows

Photo of  Sean  Fogarty
Sean Fogarty Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Sean is a behavioral ecologist and mathematical modeler interested in the role that individual-level diversity (in personality, ability, or decision making processes) plays in determining the overall performance of the group. In particular, can this diversity simultaneously enhance both sensitivity and accuracy, and is it readily evolvable. Sean received his PhD in Animal Behavior with Dr. Andy Sih at the University of California at Davis, focusing how the personality composition of groups or populations affects the ecological performance of those groups.

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Photo of  Andrew  Hein
Andrew Hein Post doctoral fellow Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Website: http://andrewhein.org

Andrew is a theoretical biologist with a background in statistics and applied mathematics. He has used experiments along with computational and mathematical tools to scale up individual-level physiological and sensory mechanisms to their population and ecosystem-level consequences. He is also interested in bio-inspired technology and design. He earned his PhD from the University of Florida under Jamie Gillooly in Biology and Scott McKinley in Mathematics.

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Photo of  Noam  Miller
Noam Miller Post doctoral fellow Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Noam joined the Couzin lab in 2010 after completing his PhD in Psychology at the University of Toronto. He is interested in the mechanisms of collective decision-making and, more broadly, in how being in a group affects learning and other forms of cognition.

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Photo of  Sara  Najem
Sara Najem Post doctoral fellow Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Sara received her BS in physics at the American University of Beirut. After that, she finished her Master’s degree under the supervision of Dr. Jihad Touma. Her work was mainly concerned with the interplay between dynamics on networks and their topologies. She then obtained a PhD in Physics at McGill University under the supervision of Dr. Martin Grant. She studied cell motion and growth treated as out-of-equilibrium systems, and employed notions from statistical mechanics to model them. She is also interested in the evolution of language from a networks perspective, and in a bunch of other things.

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Photo of  James  Waters
James Waters Post doctoral fellow Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

James is interested in how the mechanics of physiological transport and communication networks influence organismal form and function.  He recently completed his PhD in Biology in the Social Insect Research Group at Arizona State University.  Working in Jon Harrison’s comparative ecological and evolutionary physiology lab, he studied he relationship between the behavioral organization of social insect colonies and the allometric scaling of metabolic rate. Previously, he helped to develop methods to use synchrotron x-ray imaging to study the dynamics of insect respiratory systems at Argonne National Laboratory and The University of Chicago, where he earned his undergraduate degree with a concentration in mathematics.  He is currently supported by a fellowship from the James S. McDonnell Foundation to study complexity science and will be focusing on investigating how the flow of information within social insect colonies regulates their behavior and influences their ecology.

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Photo of  Haishan  Wu
Haishan Wu Post doctoral fellow Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Although he grew up in the rural countryside of China which was surrounded by animal groups, such as ant colonies and fish schools, he was fascinated by the collective behavior of such biological systems till he was a PhD student in Department of Computer Science of Fudan University in China. His research focuses on measuring and quantifying such behaviors via techniques such as computer vision, computer graphics and data mining. Meanwhile, he is also very interested in understanding the neural mechanisms underlying such behaviors. Previous to joining Couzin’s lab, he worked as a staff researcher in IBM Research Lab in Beijing, China.

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Ph.D. Students

Photo of  Jaan  Altosaar
Jaan Altosaar Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Physics
Work Princeton University, Department of Physics Jadwin Hall, Office 307 Princeton NJ 08544
Website: https://jaan.io

Jaan is a Physics Ph.D. student hailing from Canada, where graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Mathematics and Physics from McGill University in 2013.

He is interested in the mechanics of collective behaviour, game theory, machine learning, computational neuroscience, and science outreach. Previously, he has worked in theoretical condensed matter physics, biochemistry, and biophysics.

Jaan is grateful for the support of the 2013 Julie Payette-NSERC Research Scholarship, the Delta Upsilon Memorial Scholarship, and the McGill Moyse Travelling Scholarship.

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Photo of  Andrew  Berdahl
Andrew Berdahl Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Andrew is studying collective navigation, both the mechanisms that lead to its emergence and its role as driver of ecosystem level patterns. Andrew obtained an M.Sc. while a member of the Complexity Science Group within the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Calgary. There he studied disordered discrete dynamical systems under the supervision of Jörn Davidsen and Maya Paczuski. Previous to that, he completed a B.Sc. in physics at the University of Waterloo.

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Photo of  Mircea  Davidescu
Mircea Davidescu Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Mircea is a Ph.D student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology interested in collective decision-making of cells and its role in metazoan evolution. He earned a double-bachelor degree in Biochemistry and Computer Science from the University of New Brunswick, Canada in 2012. He has held sponsored research internships on a variety of topics ranging from drug discovery to quantum computing, and has also written a history book in his spare time. He is also interested in bio-inspired algorithms and computer graphics.

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Photo of  Matt  Grobis
Matt Grobis Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Guyot Hall Princeton University Princeton NJ 08544

Matt is a first-year graduate student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Matt researched the antipredator benefits of schooling in threespine sticklebacks. He then spent a year in Germany studying sleep and social foraging in great tits at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, funded by a Fulbright grant. Matt has wide-ranging interests in predator-prey interactions, information transfer, social learning, animal personality, and urban ecology, though he’ll probably have to narrow his focus eventually. In general, he is interested in how individual phenotype affects the spread and use of information in animal groups.

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Photo of  Olivia  Guayasamin
Olivia Guayasamin Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Olivia is a first year graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Having previously completed research in the Collective Behavior Lab as an undergraduate, she decided to use the personal information she gained from this experience to inform her choice of graduate program.  With a background in psychology, neuroscience, animal behavior and evolutionary biology, Olivia is most intrigued by behavioral questions best answered by interdisciplinary approaches. In 2013, she graduated Princeton University with an A.B. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her current research involves exploring a rather reciprocal arrangement:  How do consistent individual differences among zebrafish (Danio rerio) alter the behavior of fellow group members, and in turn, how does the current state of a group influence the behavior of the individual? Other interests include collective human behaviors and science communication.

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Photo of  Andrew  Hartnett
Andrew Hartnett Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Physics
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Andrew is a Physics Ph.D. student studying large fish schools. He is particularly interested in the dynamics of individual interaction rules and understanding the implications of group structure on information processing in multi-agent biological systems.

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Photo of  Albert  Kao
Albert Kao Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA
Website: http://www.princeton.edu/~akao

As an undergraduate, Albert read about Iain’s research and flocked to England to spend a summer in his lab, then located at the University of Oxford. There he began his schooling in the field of collective behavior. In the fall, he migrated back to Harvard College and graduated in 2007 with an A.B. degree in Physics with a Biophysics emphasis. He underwent two years of individual-based soul-searching, seeing five continents and two bears before finally self-organizing and returning to the fold in the fall of 2009. In addition to collective behavior, he is interested in systems neuroscience and biomechanics.

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Photo of  Simon  Leblanc
Simon Leblanc Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityProgram in Applied and Computational Mathematics & Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Simon is a Ph.D. student in Applied and Computational Mathematics, he is coadvised by Iain Couzin and Simon Levin. He earned an engineering degree in mathematical and mechanical modeling and a Master in modeling, calculus and environment from Université de Bordeaux 1, France in 2010. He is interested in the speed and robustness of information transfer within large swarms. His work includes performing analysis of experimental data at a coarse-grain level using optical flow estimation methods (also know as Particle Image Velocimetry), and creating massively parallel simulations using GPU programming.

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Photo of  Matthew  Lutz
Matthew Lutz Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Other Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

With a background in architecture, Matthew is interested in self-organizing structures at multiple scales that emerge from the activity of individuals following local rules. His current research is focused on self-assemblages in the army ant Eciton Burchellii, examining the rules behind the formation of adaptive bridges that serve to optimize the trail network, as well as the formation process of bivouacs (temporary nest structures), through both experimental field work and theoretical modeling. He holds an M.S. in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, and a B. Arch. from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Other research interests include the ecology and evolution of cooperative structures such as transport networks, and the influence of chemotaxis and haptotaxis on leadership in collective cell migration, including the growth and invasion of cancer tumors.

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Photo of  Catherine  Offord
Catherine Offord Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Catherine holds a BA in Biological Sciences from Oxford University, where she was first introduced to behavioural economics and collective decision making. After a year spent with spiders at the Oxford Silk Group, she moved to the Couzin lab to study collective behaviour in social insects, with a focus on the role of variation within groups. She has an inordinate fondness for ants and is interested in how the composition of colonies affects their sensitivity to the environment.

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Photo of  Brin  Rosenthal
Brin Rosenthal Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Physics
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Brin is a second year physics grad student, interested in all sorts of collective behavior. She has worked with social amoebae, Dictyostelium discoideum in the past, and would like to be able to unify some properties of emergent behavior across different species and different scales. She is currently working on a project in exploratory behavior in fish schools, thinking about a school of fish as a system of interacting particles which have to overcome an effective potential energy barrier to leave a shelter and explore new areas. This strength of this potential barrier will depend on a number of parameters, including school size, shelter size, and shelter attractiveness. She hopes to quantify the relation between these parameters and the likelihood of leaving the shelter. She is also interested in how such variables as school density and velocity (analogous to potential and kinetic energy) relate to exploratory behavior.

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Photo of  Ariana  Strandburg-Peshkin
Ariana Strandburg-Peshkin Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityQuantitative and Computational Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton New Jersey 08544 USA
Website: http://arianasp.com/

Ari is a graduate student in the Quantitative and Computational Biology program, broadly interested in collective phenomena in biological and social systems.   Before coming to Princeton, she studied physics at Swarthmore College and conducted research on a variety of topics ranging from viscous splashing to color changes in fiddler crabs. She joined the Couzin lab in 2012, and is currently investigating how information about a food source propagates through fish schools.  She is also interested in the role that individuals play within groups, and how individual differences both shape and are shaped by group dynamics, learning, and collective decision-making.

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Photo of  Colin  Twomey
Colin Twomey Ph.D. student Princeton UniversityDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Work Princeton University Guyot Hall Princeton NJ 08544 USA

Colin is interested in group motion and decision-making processes, and the evolution of individual behaviors that generate coordinated behavior at the group level. He studies these subjects using experimental, theoretical, and computational techniques. He is also interested in algorithms inspired by biological processes for solving NP-hard problems.

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Previous members of the lab

Kolbjørn Tunstrøm (post-doctoral fellow): Assistant Professor at Complex Systems Group, Physical Resource Theory, Department of Energy & Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

Colin Torney (post-doctoral fellow): Lecturer in the Centre for Mathematics and the Environment, at the University of Exeter

James Watson (post-doctoral fellow): Researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, part of Stockholm University, studying social-ecological systems, with a focus on human behavior in common pool resource systems.

Simon Garnier (post-doctoral fellow): Ants expert. Now assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (The Swarm Lab).

Bernardino Frola (visiting student): GPGPU, computer animation, bio-inspired models

Andrew Gallup (post-doctoral fellow): Crowd behavior. Now visiting Assistant Professor in Psychology at Bard College.

Allison Shaw (PhD) recently flew to Canberra after finishing her brilliant thesis on animal migrations. She is now a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Australian National University.

Johann Delcourt  (visiting post doctoral fellow): Fish ethology

Christos Ioannou (post-doctoral fellow) recently left the lab after having done so much for the development of our research program on fish behavior. He is now back to England where he occupies a lecturer position.

Nils Olav Handegard (visiting professor) and Arne Johannes (visiting student) have spent several months with us studying fish schooling. They are now back in Norway.

Xiaolei Zou (visiting student): human crowd behavior.

Lauren Childs (visiting student).

Christian Yates (visiting student): mathematical biology (and soccer!).

Pawel Romanczuk (visiting student): statistical physics applied to collective behaviors.

Marie-Hélène Pillot (visiting student): collective movement and leadership in sheep.

Rui Feng (visiting student): fish behavior.

Jerry Moxley: antbird foraging behavior. Moxley, after winning his awards and graduating, left the lab a less fun place. Come back!

Joseph Hale (D.Phil./Ph.D. student): locust swarming / human crowd behavior. J.J. Hale spends time in England, USA and South Africa. Website.

Gabriel Miller (D.Phil./Ph.D. student): disease & locust behavior / phase change in locusts. Gabe is now in Sydney with Steve Simpson. Website.

Nicole Milligan (Graduate student): fish schooling / human crowds. Nicole is a D.Phil student in Oxford.

Dr. Stamatios Nicolis: automated tracking and behavior analysis of bird flocks using computer vision (collaboration with Marian Dawkins and Steve Roberts: 2006-2010). Stam is now a postdoc. with Dave Sumpter in Uppsala.

Christopher Taylor (Masters student). Chris is now a school teacher.

Sian Thomas (Undergraduate project student). Sian was in New York last weekend. She is travelling.

Dr. Matthew Collett: locust swarming. Matthew is a postdoc. in Oxford.

Esther Miller (technician/researcher): locust swarming / fish schooling. Esther is studying teacher training in Bath.

Sam Seaver (Ph.D. student with Luis Amaral, Northwestern University): social networks and collective decision making (visiting July – Aug 2006). Sam and Erica have had a wee bairn, Owen, who will join Liverpool Football Club sometime around 2025.

Daniel Stouffer (Ph.D. student with Louis Amaral, Northwestern University): network analysis and collective behavior (visiting student 2006). Daniel is doing top-level postdoctoral research in Spain. People marvel at his ears there too.

Dr. Ashley Ward: fish schooling / fish behavior and general fish genius (2006). Ash is now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney (and still a fish genius)

Dr. Jerome Buhl: locust swarming – The Buhl has now moved to Sydney University to work with Prof. Steve Simpson on the Australian plague locust.