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!


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.

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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 conducts a workshop on image processing for ecologists at SCCS-Bengaluru

Akanksha Rathore, a final year PhD student in our lab, conducted a workshop on the timely topic of using image processing in ecological studies (formally titled “Image processing for animal census and movement studies”; my name is listed as organiser but quite shamelessly I wasn’t even present on the day of workshop). She was ably assisted by Preethi (a former project assistant of our lab and current PhD student of my colleague Kavita Isvaran) and Arun (system admin of our lab).

This was a day-long workshop and covered the basics of the topic.  Here is a brief description of the same.

Camera traps, aerial imagery vehicles and top-mounted cameras are becoming popular modes of data collection in wildlife and ecological studies. Videos and images captured using these approaches aid in the studies of space-use patterns, animal movement, and animal census. This mode of observation can help us gather Spatio-temporal data at unprecedented detail and thus aid in answering a novel set of questions that were previously difficult to address. However, when collected data is huge it becomes difficult to manually extract useful information from the videos/images. For eg, identifying animals in the images captured from camera traps, locations of individual animals within a group, fine-scale movement trajectory of an animal or even identifying a particular type of flower or vegetation from the images. These tasks can be automated up to some extent using techniques from Computer Vision field. In this workshop, we will be covering case-scenario for which video or image-based data collection can be useful and then some basic concepts from computer vision field which can be used to extract meaningful information from the images. we will also cover the concepts of some of the available software for animal detection and how to choose the software for a particular type of data.

Here are some pictures from the workshop!

The workshop was partially supported by a UGC-UKIERI grant on collective behaviour of blackbuck herds.


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

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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!


Conferences 2018

Our lab members have attended a fairly large number of conferences in the year 2018. Here is a short summary of them.

Starting with me, I restricted my travel to a bare minimum due to family and child-care responsibilities. I did go to one a three-day meeting on Marine biology in Jan 2018 in France, followed by a DBT organised event on Nobel prize series in Rashtrapati Bhavan in early Feb 2018. After that, I have declined all conference invitations – both Indian and international. I will probably continue to limit my travel for at least another year.

Priya Iyer, an DST postdoctoral fellow, presented her work on parential care at a CNRS Jacques Monod conference “Sex uncovered: the evolutionary biology of reproductive systems” at Roscoff, France in April 2018.

Jitesh Jhawar (PhD student) attended and presented his work on fish schooling behaviour at a Conference on Collective Behaviour at ICTP, Trieste, Italy in May 2018. Interestingly, at this meeting, he met Dr Danny Raj, an Inspire Faculty Fellow at Chemical engineering department of our own institute! The conversations between them at Trieste has now led to a collaboration and Danny is a coauthor on a manuscript that we plan to submit very soon!

Krishnapriya Tamma (SERB supported National Postdoctoral Fellow), Sumithra Sankaran (PhD student) and Sabiha Majumder (a former PhD student and currently a postdoc Zurich) organised an Oral session titled “Multistability and Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Abrupt Transitions in Terrestrial Ecosystems: Theory, Application and Management” at the Ecological Society of America 2018. It featured many talks by a diversity of speakers!  In the same meeting, all three of them also gave talks based on their own research work on ecosystem resilience carried out in our lab.

Krishnapriya Tamma also attended the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) conference in Malaysia.

Sumithra Sankaran (PhD student), on the same trip to ESA 2018, attended Gordon conferences on “Unifying Ecology Across Scales Based on Individuals, Currencies or Theory”

Akanksha Rathore, a PhD student using machine learning techniques for collective behaviour, attended a Winter School on Quantitative Systems Biology: Learning and Artificial Intelligence at ICTP, Italy.

That’s it! Happy 2019!!


Winter travel and conferences

A bunch of us are traveling for collaborations and conferences this winter.

Sumithra Sankaran and Krishnapriya Tamma are currently in France for several weeks to continue to our collaboration with Sonia Kefi and her lab at Montpellier, France. This is the last trip under our grant from Indo-French Centre for Applied Mathematics.

Sumithra Sankaran, Krishnapriya Tamma and Sabiha Majumder will be presenting their research work at the annual meeting of British Ecological Society 2017 at Ghent, Belgium, from 11th December to 15th December.

Myself, Sabiha Majumder, Priya Iyer and Jitesh Jhawar presented out work at a conference at IIT-Guwahati on Complex Dynamical Systems and Applications (CDSA). IIT-Guwahati is such an amazing campus and weather is fantastic. We must visit more frequently!


Collective behaviour meeting in Germany

I am just returning from an highly stimulating workshop/conference on “Multi scale analysis and modeling of collective migration in biological systems”, Bielefeld, Germany, Oct 2017. 

One day of the conference was on collective behaviour in organismal biology. There were great talks on quantifying interactions in fish and sheep, intermittent behaviour in sheep, collective feeding in C elegans, models of swarming bees, criticality in schooling systems, etc. I gave a talk on our recent (unpublished) work on fish schooling by Amith-Kumar and Jitesh Jhawar followed by my previous work on evolutionary models of collective migration, including Jaideep’s recent work on cooperation.

It was great to catch up with Pawel Romanczuk (with whom I collaborated on locust cannibalism) and Guy Theraulaz (a leader in the field of collective behaviour). There were not too many people I knew previously. So it was nice to many others whose papers I had read but not never met.

Guy shared his fond memories of his visit to Bengaluru in 1990 when he attended International meeting on social insects. Guy has been encouraging me to organise a meeting on collective behaviour in Bangalore.  Should I 🙂 ?



Several of our lab members attend international conferences and workshops this summer

As I mentioned in the previous post, our postdoc is attending Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting in Portland this week. In addition, our lab had presence in various other international conferences and workshops this summer.

Four PhD students from our lab presented their work at the conference “Mathematical models in ecology and evolution” (MMEE) held at London in July 2017.

  1. Jaideep Joshi, final year student who has already submitted his thesis, presented his work on “Demographic noise and the evolution of tag-based cooperation”.
  2. Sumithra Sankaran, finishing her 4th year of PhD, presented her work on “Demographic noise promotes bistability in ecosystems”
  3. Jitesh Jhawar, finishing his 3rd year of PhD, presented his work on “Role of stochasticity in the dynamics of fish schools”
  4. Aakanksha Rathore, finishing her 2nd year of PhD, presented her work on “Spatial dynamics of Blackbuck herds”

Three of the students, Sumithra, Jitesh and Aakanksha, also attended BES organised one day symposium on movement ecology in London.

After the conference, Aakanksha went to visit Dr Colin Torney at University of Glasgow.

Jaideep went on to Puerto Rico to attend a workshop on tropical forest ecology.

Student trips were supported by funds from Indian Institute of Science (MHRD) and a grant from Royal society to visit Dr Torney’s lab.