Krishnapriya Tamma to join Azim Premji University as an Assistant Professor (updated)

I am absolutely delighted that Dr Krishnapriya Tamma – a postdoc from our lab – will soon (on 11th March 2019, Monday) be joining Azim Premji University as an Assistant Profesor! Hearty congratulations from the entire lab. Here is a picture from the lab party (Priya is on the right side, at the last minus one position)!


Priya completed her PhD from NCBS, working with Prof Uma Ramakrishnan. Priya joined our lab in April 2016 as a postdoctoral research associate. She was initially funded by a lab project grant and she then won the SERB National-Postdoctoral Fellowship award (from April 2017 onwards). Over these nearly three years, Priya has made immense contributions to the lab.

Priya helped us start a new direction of research in our lab on using remotely sensed vegetation data to infer the resilience of ecosystems. Her work with Sabiha (where both were equal contributors) is in nearly final stages of review and we hope to get that out soon! Priya also mentored Prashastha Mishra, an undergraduate student from IISER Pune and this led to another (in prep) manuscript on understanding the role of human influence in our characterisation of ecosystem states from remotely-sensed data. This is an area that we will continue collaborating for over the next few years. (In fact, we have just received a DBT grant – a post to come on that soon.)

Priya’s presence in the lab added a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the entire lab. We are badly going to miss that now. As soon as she joined, she resurrected our defunct lab meetings and made them full of excitement and fun. Apart from the research described above, she was also pursuing many collaborations with independently. Visit her Google Scholar profile to read her papers.

Priya is also interested in science communication, underprivileged groups and hopes to increase her engagement with these in the coming years, especially with a focus on Northeastern India. Update: To mention a few of her very important initiatives –  Priya was in the core organising committee of SCCS-Bengaluru for a few years and organized a pre-school for the underprivileged students.she also led discussions in CES In-house symposium on extremely important topics like mentor-mentee relationships, authorship issues, and how power-imbalance between mentor and mentee leads to suboptimal outcomes to many mentees, how to navigate such experiences, etc.

Azim Premji University has been hiring top-notch scientists and teachers over the last few years and is one of the best universities in India for undergraduate education. Once again, Congratulations to Dr Krishnapriya for her new job where I am absolutely sure that she will do a splendid job!

Understanding Behaviour – 2019 at Kolkata and Jitesh Jhawar wins best talk/poster prize

A number of folks from our lab — Abhratanu Saha (UG student), Akanksha (PhD student), Jitesh Jhawar (PhD student), Priya Iyer (postdoc), Preethi Rajasekaran (Project assistant), Nitin Saxena (PhD student) — attended the Understanding Behaviour – 2019 conference, organised by IISER-Kolkata.

Congratulations to Jitesh Jhawar – who won the best speed-talk cum poster award for his presentation on inferring local rules of interactions among fish from collective behaviour studies.



Jaideep Joshi awarded a prestigious Marie Curie fellowship

I am delighted that Jaideep Joshi, the (one of the) first PhD student of the lab, has been awarded a prestigious Marie Curie fellowship.

Jaideep will be pursuing his postdoctoral research in Austira/UK, mentored by Prof Ulf Dieckmann (IIASA, Vienna, Austria) and Prof Iain Colin Prentice (Imperial College London). His research topic is “Assessing the global vulnerability of forests to drought using Plant Functional Trait Evolution (Plant-FATE)”.

Soon after submitting his thesis (on the topic of spatial evolutionary dynamics), Jaideep joined Divecha Centre for Climate Change at IISc for a postdoctoral position. He will continue there for a few months before joining the Marie Curie fellows program.

Best wishes from the lab for his future endeavours!!!


We have been awarded an UGC-UKIERI grant for collaboration with Colin Torney

We are delighted that we have been awarded an UGC-UKIERI grant for collaboration with Colin Torney in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Glasgow and my colleague Dr Kavita Isvaran at CES. The grant amount is around 25,000 UK Pounds (equivalent to around 25 lakhs) and is valid from March 2018 – March 2020.

The ideas and work proposed here are by PhD student Akanksha Rathore who is jointly advised by me and Kavita. The grant will help both of our groups to travel back and forth, and work on investigating collective behaviour of blackbuck in the wild.

This is our second collaborative grant with Colin Torney, the previous one being funded by Royal Society which was instrumental in starting our collaboration as well as getting this grant.




Congratulations to Sabiha Majumder and Jaideep Joshi for their successful completion of PhD!!!

2018 has been a fantastic year for our lab.

HUGE congratulations to two lab members (now, unfortunately, former lab members) — Sabiha Majumder and Jaideep Joshi – for the successfully defending their thesis.

Sabiha Majumder








Sabiha Majumder defended her thesis on 26th February 2018. She joined IISc as an Integrated PhD student in the Department of Physics. Her Physics adviser was Prof Sriram Ramaswamy and with us she worked on “Multiple stable states and abrupt transitions in ecosystems”. She made some extremely important contributions to our understanding on patterns and dynamics ecosystems with multiple stable states, whether we can anticipate them via measuring simple quantities from field data, and whether we can even estimate threshold/critical points of such ecosystems.

Sabiha has joined as a postdoctoral fellow at Crowther Lab at ETH-Zurich. All the best for her future work. She will be badly missed in our lab.

Jaideep Joshi









Jaideep defended his thesis on 30th January 2018. He joined IISc as a PhD student at CES and worked on some deeply insightly theoretical aspects of the evolution of cooperation in spatial systems. Apart from working with me, he also established his own collaborations as part of his thesis. After his PhD, he has joined as a postdoctoral researcher at Divecha Centre for Climate Change, IISc with prof Sukumar of CES. All the best to Jaideep for his future endeavours!

Priya Iyer has been awarded DST grant to pursue her postdoctoral work

Congratulations to Priya Iyer, who has been awarded DST Women Scientist grant to pursue her postdoctoral research work. The grant is for three years, and is likely to start from Jan 2018. Priya did her integrated MSc in Mathematics from IIT Kanpur, PhD in Biology from Stanford, and spent some time as a fellow at IISER Pune.

Priya has wide range of interests, from studying animals in the wild to building theoretical models to education. We are delighted that she will work in our lab.

Krishnapriya Tamma has been awarded National-Post Doc Fellowship from SERB to work in our lab

Congratulations to Dr Krishnapriya Tamma for the National-Post Doc Fellowship from SERB to work in our lab.

Krishnapriya will work on analysing various remotely sensed images of vegetation to understand and to predict tipping point phenomena natural forests across the world.

Priya Tamma is not really new to our lab. She was already on a postdoctoral position in our lab from April 2016. This fellowship gives her additional three years to continue her work. This will also allow her to pursue newer directions of research apart from primary focus areas of our lab. Apart from global scale analyses of vegetation, she is deeply interested in understanding biogeography, ecosystem patterns and conservation issues n North-Eastern India.

Before joining our lab, Priya Tamma did her PhD from our neighboring institution NCBS, in the lab of Prof Uma Ramakrishnan, on biogeography of Himalayan region. Check our her Google scholar profile to see her interesting publications.

We have been awarded an SERB grant to study collective behaviour

We are delighted that we have been awarded an extramural research grant from Science and Engineering Research Board, Govt of India, to a project titled “Inferring nonlinear and stochastic dynamics of flocking systems from real data”.

We will get around Rs 36 lakhs plus overheads over a period of three years. The grant will support conducting experiments using fish schools and to use tools from physics to infer nonlinear dynamics of schooling fish.

I would like to thank our former project assistant Amith Kumar and the PhD student Jitesh Jhawar for offering immense help  in the process of this grant writing and application.

This is funded by the Physical Sciences panel of SERB. It is interesting to note that two of our other grants to study collective behaviour too are funded by non-biology panels — one of them an Applied Mathematics section of CSIR and the other a Mathematics section of SERB (via Mathbio program at IISc).



Nikunj Goel wins Volterra Award and Damman Award at ESA 2016

Nikunj Goel has won two awards at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) 2016 Annual Meeting, Volterra Award by the Theoretical Ecology section and Ton Damman award from the Vegetation section. He was given these for his excellent presentation titled “Spatiotemporal dynamics of savanna-forest distribution”. Both of these awards are given to best graduate student presentation at the Annual meetings of ESA.

Congratulations to Nikunj!

Nikunj graduated with BSc(Research) from IISc in 2015 and worked in our lab for his final year project working on early warning signals of financial meltdowns that resulted in a publication. He is currently a PhD student with Dr Carla Staver at Yale University. We continue to collaborate after he has moved to Yale and I serve on his PhD thesis committee.