One more PhD from the lab! Jitesh Jhawar defends his PhD thesis investigating Collective behaviour in schooling fish

Congratulations to Jitesh Jhawar, the newly minted PhD from our lab!!!! He defended his thesis in December 2019.

Jitesh defended his thesis titled “Intrinsic noise in collective dynamics” – where he theoretically and empirically investigated how stochasticity plays a very counter-intuitive role and creates order!

The thesis was reviewed by Prof Martin Evans (Dept of Physics, Edinburgh, UK) and Prof Malay Banerjee (Dept of Math, IIT Kanpur)! We thank them for their very constructive comments and their valuable time.

As you can see, although this work is from CES and we look at fish schools, it was reviewed by physicists/mathematicians! This is because there are lots of links between physics and schooling fish.

You can read the synopsis of his thesis here.

Here are three papers arising out his thesis (and two more are expected):

1) Jitesh Jhawar, Richard G. Morris, U. R. Amith-Kumar, M. Danny Raj, Harikrishnan R., Vishwesha Guttal, Noise-Induced Schooling of Fish, arXiv:1903.12132

2) Jitesh Jhawar and Vishwesha Guttal, 2019, Noise-induced Effects in Collective Dynamics and Inferring Local Interactions from Data,

3) Jitesh Jhawar, Richard Morris, and Vishwesha Guttal, 2019, Deriving mesoscopic models of collective behaviour for finite populations, In Handbook of Statistics Vol 40: Integrated Population Biology and Modeling  (edited by Arni Srini Rao and C R Rao), Part B, 551-594. DOI:;  Pre-print from Arxiv;  Codes and data on GitHub.  Download PDF

Jitesh is continuing as a short-term post-doctoral fellow in the lab. He will soon join Max Planck Institute for Collective Behaviour in Konstanz for his postdoctoral work on honey bees and collective cell migration.




Sabiha Majumder – a former PhD from the lab – joins banking/finance sector

Hearty congratulations to Dr. Sabiha Majumder who is all set to join ING in Amsterdam on a new exciting career path of banking/finance.

Sabiha got a PhD from the Physics department of IISc in 2017/18, working jointly with me and Sriram Ramaswamy. Her thesis applied ideas from nonequilibrium statistical physics and stochastic systems to analyse risks of ecological collapse. She published a number of excellent papers on this topic, in prestigious ecology journals. After her PhD, she joined ETH-Zurich for a postdoc, where she continued for two years.

In her new job, Sabiha will be employing her interdisciplinary skills as a Risk analyst in the banking/finance sector!

This shows how skills learnt in PhD are highly transferable. One need not continue in the traditional academic set up after PhD — something that a lot of PhD aspirants are unaware of. There are a large number of opportunities outside the academic set up where skills of PhD are going to be extraordinarily useful.


Akanksha visits Max Plank Institute and attends ASAB conference on a Zukunftskolleg research visit fellowship


Akanksha with her poster at ASAB 2019, Konstanz

Congratulations to Akanksha Rathore, a final year PhD student in our lab working on the collective behaviour of blackbuck, who was awarded Zukunftskolleg research visit fellowship by the University of Konstanz in Germany.

With this support, Akanksha visited the new Max Planck Institute for Animal Behaviour at Konstanz in the month of August 2019. She was hosted by Dr Ariana Stranburg-Peshkin and Dr Blaire Costelloe at the Institute to discuss collaboration opportunities.

Using the same fellowship, Akanksha also presented a poster on her research work on the collective behaviour of blackbuck at ASAB summer conference 2019 at Konstanz.

Akanksha Rathore and Jitesh Jhawar presented their work at Gordon conference in March 2019

I am quite late to writing this post (this seems to be sitting in my draft!).

Akanksha Rathore (4th year PhD student) and Jitesh Jhawar (5th year PhD student) presented their work on collective behavior at Gordon conference on Movement Ecology in March 2019. 

Akanksha was an invited speaker at the accompanying Movement Ecology of Animals (GRS) Seminar. Congratulations to Akanksha for the invited talk at a major international conference!

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Akanksha Rathore presenting her work on blackbuck herds.

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Jitesh Jhawar with his poster on fish schools!

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.