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.




Collective behaviour symposium during the visit of Guy Theraulaz

During the visir of Guy Theraylaz, our lab members (Pritha, Jitesh, Akanksha) and collaborator Dr Danny Raj organized an interdisciplinary one-day symposium titled Collective behaviour at CES, IISc. Here is the full schedule:

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Around 10 faculty members from IISc and other institutions gave presentations. Prof Theraulaz also gave a fascinating special seminar at the Collective behaviour symposium on self-organized nest architecture.

There was also a very lively poster session where a number of students presented their work.

The symposium was very well attended, including two IT folks who saw the notice on Twitter and joined the entire day of talks!

Workshop at Valparai with Guy Theraulaz

During the visit of Prof Theraulaz, we organized an intense workshop on collective behaviour at Valparai, Tamil Nadu from 08.09.2019 to 10.09.2019.

Many students working on collective behaviour from our lab and our collaborator Dr Danny Raj attended the workshop. The workshop focused on the discussion of existing research in the field of collective behaviour and potential future advances in the same.

The team also did a number of field visits to observe wildlife, assisted by extraordinary scientists and staff from Nature Conservation Foundation.

Collective behaviour workshop and symposium during the visit of Guy Theraulaz

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Guy Theraulaz visited CES and our lab as Infosys Chair Professor.

During the visit, the lab members of Dr Vishwesha Guttal organized an interdisciplinary one-day symposium titled Collective behaviour.  Around 10 faculty members from IISc and other institutions gave presentations. Prof Theraulaz also gave a fascinating special seminar at the Collective behaviour symposium on self-organized nest architecture.

Symposium_Poster_Final (1)

In addition, Prof Theraulaz attended a workshop on collective behaviour was organized by Dr Vishwesha Guttal at Valparai, Tamil Nadu from 08.09.2019 to 10.09.2019.  Many students working on collective behaviour from our lab attended the workshop. We discussed the state of research in the field of collective behaviour and potential future advances in the same. The team also did a number of field visits to observe wildlife, assisted by superb staff and volunteers from Nature Conservation Foundation.

Apart from faculty members at CES, Prof Theraulaz held a whole range of discussions with faculty members spread across the Institute as well as neighbouring institutions such as NCBS and ICTS. Some faculty members he met included: Prof Ashish Verma (Civil engineering), Prof Renee Borges (CES), Prof Rohini Balakrishnan (CES), Prof Sanjay Sane (NCBS), Prof Axel Brockmann (NCBS), Dr Danny Raj (Chemical engineering), etc.

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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.

Prof Guy Theraulaz visits our lab from France

We are all absolutely thrilled that Prof Guy Theraulaz is visiting our lab from CNRS, France.

Prof Theraulaz is a world leader in the field of self-organisation and collective animal behaviour. He is visiting IISc as an Infosys Chair Professor which is awarded to him for three years. This is his first visit, from 4th September 2019 to 22nd Sept 2019.

We are all very excited and have begun many possibilities for collaborations and new research projects!


Arun, Vishu, Prof Guy Theraulaz, Vivek, Shuaib, Jitesh, Akanksha and Tanveen!

My tweet:


ಗುಂಪಲ್ಲಿ ಗೋವಿಂದ: Gumpalli Govinda – a Kannada talk on collective behaviour at Munnota

A couple of months ago, I gave a talk at Munnota Book store, where they organise some really good Kannada talks on science, social and political issues related to Kannada and Karnataka. Links to poster, videos of the talk (1.5 hours in all), etc are all given below. This was probably my first ever talk fully in Kannada on a science topic (of course, I was part of Thale Harate and Janasuddi podcasts recently, but this was a live talk to a larger audience). I really really enjoyed it. I hope to get more such opportunities.

ಸುಮಾರು ಎರಡು ತಿಂಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ, ಮುನ್ನೋಟ ಬುಕ್ ಸ್ಟೋರ್ ಅವರು ನಡೆಸುವ ಮಾತುಕತೆ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮದಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನು ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಗುಂಪಿನ ನಡವಳಿಕೆಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಒಂದು ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮ ನಡೆಸಿದೆ. ಅದ ವೀಡಿಯೋ ಮತ್ತು ಪೋಷ್ಟರ್ ಗಳು ಇಲ್ಲಿವೆ.

ಇದರ ವಿಶೇಷವೇನೆಂದರೆ, ಇದು ನಾನು ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ  ಕೊಟ್ಟ ಮೊದಲ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನಕ್ಕೆ ಸಂಬಂಧ ಪಟ್ಟ ಭಾಷಣ. ಇಂತಹ ಅವಕಾಶ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಟ್ಟ ಮುನ್ನೋಟ ಅವರಿಗೆ ನನ್ನ ಧನ್ಯವಾದಗಳು.

Video – 1: 


Video – 2: 


Video – 3:


Poster for the talk: 

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Visit by Colin Torney and Mikolaj Kundegorski to our lab

In the last week of May this year, Dr Colin Torney (Dept of Math, University of Glasgow) and his student Mikolaj Kundegorski (Miks) visited our lab to continue our collaboration on studying blackbuck collective behaviour with Akanksha. We had a really productive week of implementing AI based image processing to our datasets. Their visit was funded by UGC-UKIERI grant.

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Miks (second from left) and Colin (third) feasting on a fruit lunch with our lab members!

JOB opening: Project Assistant Position on experimental investigations on the collective behaviour of fish [UPDATE: POSITION FILLED]


We are looking to hire a Project Assistant to work on a SERB funded project on experimental investigations on the collective behaviour of fish, led by Vishwesha Guttal (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore) – DEADLINE for applications: July 7th 2019 

Project Description: The project aims to study collective behaviour in schooling fish via laboratory experiments. In our ongoing work, we are aiming to understand how fish interact with each other in groups by analyzing data from collective behaviour experiments in the lab. The larger project involves a blend of computational and mathematical approaches towards inferring such interactions. For this position, the student is expected to perform a large number of experiments in the laboratory. However, depending on the interest the candidate may participate in other aspects of the project as well.

The work will be done in the lab of Dr Vishwesha Guttal, Associate Professor, Centre for ecological sciences, IISc Bangalore.

Eligibility: Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from any branch of science/engg.

Skills: Experience with experimental design, statistics, fish behaviour, fieldwork and a knowledge of basic ecology will be desirable.

Appointment details: The position will start in August 2019 (or earlier if the candidate is available to join early).  The appointment will be for one year. Extension may be considered based on mutual requirement and funding. The project assistant is expected to commit to 1 year of appointment.

Remuneration for this position is as per norms (~Rs 25,0000 – 30,000 per month if you hold a Masters degree), and the position includes research expenses including travel support for fieldwork (if necessary).

To apply:  Please send the following to a 1-page cover letter describing your qualifications and potential interest in the position, your CV, and contact information for 2 references. An interview or test will be held with the interested candidate following which the decision to offer the position will be made. We will begin reviewing applications beginning July 7 on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Contact: For further information, do not hesitate to contact the PhD student in charge of this project – Jitesh Jhawar –


Thale-Harate’ podcast with Pavan Srinath and Ganesh Chakravarthi in Kananda (ಕನ್ನಡ)

Listen to my ‘Thale-Harate’ podcast with Pavan Srinath and Ganesh Chakravarthi in Kananda (ಕನ್ನಡ):

On topics ecology, physics, some of my research work and on doing science in India.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation during recording, and I hope you too! Any feedback welcome.

Since its an hour and a half long, here is roughly how the topics of discussions go:

0 – 33 minutes: On ecology, how principles and methods of physics/mathematics can be useful. Includes examples from my own research work on ecosystem collapse and collective animal movement.

33 – 55 minutes: How does research actually happen? Did you have eureka-moments? What is the life of a processor and scientist like at work?

55 mins to 1:25 hrs: On Indian science and global competitiveness.