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I study the complex social and collective systems of various animals from insects and spiders, to fish, and up to humans – the ways single individuals come together to form much larger groups, and the rules of interaction that govern how these groups behave. My research program encompasses in-depth field studies, molecular genetics, and neurobiological approaches to understand both the mechanisms and the outcomes of social interactions. I am a Principal Investigator (Group Leader) at the Max Planck Institute Department of Collective Behaviour, and maintain a position as Senior Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, where I was previously Integrative Biology Fellow, working in collaboration with Mike Ryan and Hans Hofmann. Before that I was a JSPS fellow in Osaka working with Masanori Kohda, and I completed my PhD with Rob Brooks and Ashley Ward in Sydney. I did my undergraduate honours thesis with Madeleine Beekman and Ben Oldroyd in Sydney as well.
I also love to have a chat about my research. I won the People’s Choice Prize at the 3-Minute Thesis tournament, an international competition that asks academics to succinctly communicate the importance of their research to a lay audience, and I’ve appeared as an academic expert on the Nat Geo channel series Brain Games. I am an author for The Conversation, an online independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector viewed by 2 million readers each month and I used to write a monthly column for the ‘Ask an Expert’ section of Practical Fishkeeping magazine, the highest-selling aquarium magazine in the world, as well as frequently presenting talks at local hobbyist societies. My YouTube channel of research videos in Lake Tanganyika (“Tanganyika Travels by Alex Jordan”) has over 150,000 views.