Postdoctoral position available – Physics of Collective Animal Behavior

Posted by on Feb 2 2011 in Available positionsNo comment


Postdoctoral Research Associate

The Physics of Collective Behavior: An Experimental Approach

Principal Investigators: Iain D. Couzin and Cristian Huepe.
Based in Princeton University
CouzinLab website:

We are seeking a postdoctoral research associate to work with us on our project entitled “Experimental and Theoretical Analysis of Collective Dynamics of Swarming Systems”, funded by the National Science Foundation.

The proposed research will focus on the study of schooling fish experimentally, from the perspective of non-equilibrium statistical physics. We have developed detailed digital tracking of all individuals in schools, which allows us to investigate biologically meaningful collective states to search for both generic, and specific, characteristics of animal groups. For example, an investigation of the adaptability, rapid response, consensus, and robustness requirements of group motion will allow us to reveal how individual interactions produce functional complexity at the group level. The successful candidate will: 1. Perform controlled laboratory experiments where hundreds, or thousands, of fish are tracked concurrently and their response to stimuli recorded (such experiments and tracking technologies are already well developed in the laboratory). 2. Develop detailed, and idealized, models to capture specific and universal aspects of groups, and to apply physics-inspired analytical tools to groups, such as correlation lengths, clustering, information flow, defect dynamics, etc. 3. Investigate collective effects that are typical of non-equilibrium dynamical systems; e.g.: scaling-laws, pattern formation, or transitions. 4. Test if some collective states follow a generic behavior due to the system adaptations and, if so, exploit the consequences of this for theoretical analysis.

Applicants must have proven ability to pursue quantitative experimental research (including data collection and analysis); experience with biological systems is a bonus.

The position will initially be for a period of 12 months with a possibility of extension of up to 24 months. The position is available immediately but, if needed, the start date is flexible.

We welcome informal inquiries. To apply please send a CV and a cover letter explaining your suitability for the position to Please include the word “Swarm” in the subject line.

Princeton University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and particularly welcomes nominations of women and members of underrepresented minority groups.


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