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, an Associate Editor of The American Naturalist, 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 like to talk about science and fieldwork, and have had the chance to do so in a variety of media, including on National Geographic channel, where I explored the neurological basis of human decisions as part of the Emmy-award nominated show Brain Games,
as well as through public talks and engagement with artists like SUPERFLEX and Tomas Saraceno.

In addition to writing for academic journals (see my research website at, I also enjoy writing opinion pieces and aquarium hobbyist columns at places like The Conversation and Practical Fishkeeping.

A long time ago as a student, I got up on stage and explained in less than three minutes why Tiger Woods will die young.


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