Principal Investigator:  

Vishwesha Guttal, Assistant Professor, CES, IISc and Associate faculty, IMI, IISc. 

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 7.54.40 pmI am fascinated by most all areas of basic sciences and in particular physics, ecology and evolution, but I try to limit myself to studying (a) collective animal behaviour (with a focus on evolutionary aspects and self-organized pattern formation), (b) self-organized spatial patterns in vegetation of semi-arid ecosystems (c) building simple yet “predictive” models of abrupt changes in complex dynamical systems. Prior to joining IISc, I was a postdoc in the group of Iain Couzin at Princeton University; and I did my PhD in Physics at The Ohio State University working with Prof. C Jayaprakash on theoretical ecology. My undergraduate education (Integrated MSc in Physics) was at IIT Kanpur.

Click here for a Curriculum Vitae.

During my graduate student days at Columbus, OH, I used volunteer for Association for India’s Development. Click here for Columbus chapter webpage.



Hari Sridhar: My main research interest is understanding the causes of heterospecific sociality and its influence on community organization. I have been involved in organizing various student based ecology conferences in India (YETI and SCCS), taught  a course on birds at Azim Premji University, Bangalore and served as an editor for the magazine Current Conservation.

Check his Google Scholar page for his publications.  Hari has also conducted a fantastic set of interviews of scientists on their key publications.


Krishnapriya Tamma: I completed my PhD from Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan’s lab at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore. The major focus of my thesis was the biogeography of mammals in the Himalayas, and I used a variety of approaches (spatial analyses, phylogenetic) to understand the same. I am interested in spatial ecology, specifically, in long term patterns of ecosystem change. Given the explosion of data that we are currently witnessing, it is important that we develop cost effective tools for monitoring large-scale, long term changes in ecosystems. One way is to use remotely-sensed (or satellite) data. I hope to use remotely sensed data to measure changes in vegetation cover in semi-arid ecosystems as part of my post-doctoral work. I am also interested in science communication, and hope to increase my engagement with it in the coming years.

PhD Students

Jaideep Joshi is in the PhD program of Centre for Ecological Sciences. He graduated from IIT Bombay with a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering but his real interest lies in ecology, and “field work”. He will likely work on collective animal movement and he is always thinking how to find an opportunity to work in the field! However, he is currently working on mathematical and computational models to understand the evolutionary dynamics of collective movement. More specifically, he is focussing on the coevolution of cooperative interactions with collective movement.


Sabiha Majumder is in the Integrated PhD program  of Department of Physics, IISc. She is working jointly with Prof. Sriram Ramaswamy (Department of Physics, IISc) and Vishwesha Guttal to investigate phase transitions in ecosystem vegetation patterns. One of her current research questions is to estimate critical point at which an abrupt regime shift occurs with spatial data of ecosystems. She is using the idea of “coarse-graning” from physics literature and applying these in the context of ecological models and data.

Publications: Stephanie Eby*, Amit Agrawal*, Sabiha Majumder, Andew Dobson and Vishwesha Guttal, 2017, Alternative stable states and spatial indicators of critical slowing down along a spatial gradient in a savanna ecosystem,  Global Ecology and Biogeography,  DOI  Codes and Data. PDF (*These authors contributed equally to this work).

Sumithra Sankaran did her BSc in Zoology at the University of Madras (Stella Maris College) and an MSc in Wildlife Science fromWildlife Institute of India (Dehradun). She then worked on a number of research projects panning the fields of animal behaviour, conservation and evolutionary ecology over the course of which she became increasingly interested in theory. She worked with our lab first as a teaching assistant for the course EC 201 in Jan-April 2013 and subsequently joined us as a PhD student in Aug 2013. Her current project is to investigate mechanisms that generate patchiness in vegetation of semi-arid ecosystems.

jiteshJitesh Jhawar did his graduation in engineering in biotechnology from MITS Gwalior and post graduation in structural biology and biochemistry from IIT Kanpur. With a keen interest in mathematics, he joined a theoretical biology lab as a project student at NCL Pune, where he recognised my interest in ecology. He is interested in understanding animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective.  He is a nature lover and like things restored in their natural form. He likes travelling and playing sports with friends.

Aakanksha_picAakanksha Rathore (joint student with Kavita Isvaran): I graduated from MNIT Jaipur with a in Information Technology. Subsequently, I worked as a software developer at SAP Labs for two years. Over the course of two years my inclination towards nature escalated to a point where it became inconceivable to work on anything else. So, I decided to break free and joined Nature Conservation Foundation in 2014. I worked on different aspects of Hornbill’s breeding biology and seed dispersal role. While working on these projects, I became increasingly interested in ecology.

Being very new to this field, almost every concept of ecology fascinates me. I am planning to work on something related to Animal Behaviourfor which I intend to use my favourite tools­ Mathematics and Computer programming.

Project staff/Visitors

Arun Mahadevan is the system administrator of our laboratory.

UG Students

aakashAakash Sengupta:I am an integrated Ph.D student in Biological Science Division of IISc. Before I joined IISc in 2013, I did my bachelors in microbiology from Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira. I joined Vishwesha’s lab for the second year project of my Int Ph.D course and I am currently working on collective animal behaviour and it’s evolution. I am broadly interested in ecology and evolution but if I have to be more specific, I would say animal behaviour (including collective phenomena), biogeography, theoretical modelling and  statistical analysis. I am still very much interested in microbiology but the only thing that has changed in me since my bachelors is the perspective to look at the subject.


Kushal Appilineni: I am a 4rth year Undergraduate pursuing Physics. I enjoy studying and solving problems arising in the intersection of physics and other fields like biology, atmospheric sciences, economics etc. I find it quite fascinating how complex systems in these contrasting disciplines work on very similar underlying principles. I also play and compose music and try expressing different experiences in life through it.

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