Our Team

We’re a diverse bunch, from out-and-out field biologists, computational ethologists, to neuroanatomists. Whatever our expertise, we are all fascinated by the evolution and mechanisms of animal behaviour, and go out of our way to observe our systems and species in their natural settings.

Backed up by the analytical might of the Department of Collective Behaviour at the Max Planck Institute, we aim for an integrative and highly-quantitative understanding of behaviour.

Lab Members

Alex Jordan (PI)


Alex is like the Ninja Turtle, Raphael, in the famous track “Turtle Power“. If you’re interested, there’s more information about Alex here.

Ana Zaalishvili (MSc)

Ana explores the edges of perception using very trippy light shows and groups of social fish.

Aneesh Bose (Postdoc)


Aneesh comes from a background of flipping rocks and bothering the inhabitants he finds underneath. Often this occurs during their most intimate and private times of life. He continues this, now underwater and attempting to do so en masse.

Anja Wegner (PhD)


At any given point in time, Anja is likely to be somewhere in the physical world supplying fish with hot pink sculptures, and somewhere in the conceptual world between art and science.

Anka Pöhl (Intern)


Anka is looking for fish in a dried our riverbed full of hippos, but at least she has a giant telephoto lens so might be able to spot something without being eaten.

Etienne Lein (PhD)


Etienne is mad for fish brains, like some kind of piscine zombie. He also loves social structure and interaction networks, and has many dear enemies. For some reason he has zero web presence, so on searching for him you instead find the second best Welsh footballer holding a chicken.

Fritz Francisco (MSc)


Fritz  got too drunk at a pirate metal gig one night, and we found him the next morning in our labs attempting to finish his set with a guitar crudely constructed from old nets and a drum kit of empty food containers. It actually sounded pretty good so we kept him.

Ian Etheredge (PhD)


Ian is a Renaissance man, combining insights and techniques from Da Vinci, Darwin, Turing, and Bob Ross to paint a picture of biological beauty like no other. He also sometimes (often) wears cowboy boots to the lab, so we’ve elected him a safety officer for setting such a good footwear example.

Karina Weiler (BSc)


If someone is clever enough to jump off bridges in their spare time, can they really be trusted to judge the behaviour of a fish? No. That’s why Karina uses computers and machine learning and other things that go ‘Bing!’ to help. Also she’s a Divemaster so perhaps jumping into that river isn’t such a bad idea for her.

Jakob Gübel (MSc)


Jakob works in the Middle-Eastern desert in the summer, where it’s 45 degrees Celsius in the shade. He goes there to study spiders, but come on, there are spiders on the trees outside my office, and we have beer in the fridge. It also seems he cannot swim. This last point is even more problematic now that he has joined the Tanganyika team.

Johannes Windorfer (BSc)

Johannes likes Karaoke and biological architecture. A perfectly natural mix.

Lukas Koch (MSc)


Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the bowers and pits of the Lamrologines might be. Lukas knows, but he mostly speaks to fish so we have no idea.

Myriam Knöpfle (MSc)


Like the best of us, Myriam sometimes suffers from seasickness. Does that stop her swimming around madly after fish in Corsica? No sir it does not. Kudos.

Paul Nührenberg (PhD)


Paul only joined the lab because of the martial arts links we have, so we randomly attack him in the hallways, typically with Wu-Tang samples. He re-encodes them as semi-sentient automatons, which causes all sorts of problems for basic lab management.

Rosanna Stolberg (BSc)


In this photo Rosanna is cleverly using both hands to reel out the ROV, but it seems her bendy-appendaged fish are not as versatile.

Sylvia Garza (MSc)


Sylvia joined the lab all the way back in 2013, when the Texas sun had to be fought off with strong Tequila. Now we’ve come all the way to Konstanz, where the German cold has to be fought off with strong Schnapps. So, not much has changed.

Zoë Goverts (BSc)

Zoe is a divemaster. That means she has actual qualifications and could get paid money to swim around in nice places. Instead she will be spending her time watching fish touch one another, and is unlikely to receive any financial payoff. Different strokes I suppose.

Friends, affiliated folks, and co-supervised students

Mariana Rodriguez (Affiliated PhD Hofmann Lab UT Austin)


Mariana “Mad Dog” Rodriguez is a PhD student in the Hofmann Lab that was simply too good to leave behind in the badlands of Texas, so we bring her to the Alps to cool off when we can.

Shoyo Sato (Affiliated PhD Giribet Lab Harvard)


Shoyo decided to forgo a prestigious research institute like the Max Planck and has now ended up at a university no one has ever heard of… Harland I think, or perhaps Karvard? Anyway, he remains an affiliate lab member and studies the evolution of social behaviour in spiders.

Simon Gingins (Affiliated Postdoc Couzin Lab)


Like all good Swiss, Simon endeavours to accelerate down hills as quickly as he can manage. Luckily his diving does not follow the same pattern, and he manages to stay within safe limits and get back to the surface to show us his fantastic photos.

Ash Parker (Extended network – Baier Lab, MPI Neurobiology)


Talk about a common name… I can’t find the real Ash Parker anywhere on the web. Probably because she’s sitting in dark rooms waiting for baby cichlids to open their eyes and explore the world.

Qiaoyi Liang (Extended network – Baldwin Lab, MPI Ornithology)


In the institutional sense, Qiaoyi is a sister from another mister… well in this case miss. Or Frau. Actually it’s doctor in Maude’s case, but that doesn’t rhyme. Anyway you get the idea. Maybe.

Lab Alumni

Sofia Rodriguez-Brenes (Postdoc)

Sofia is a field biologist, and one of the best around. She is also the only person I know to take an umbrella into the most dangerous rainforest in the world.

Jian Zhao (PhD)

Jian is like a Mother Gaia for fish, wanting to ensure all are fed and nurtured in the best possible way. By using robots. And laser beams.



Manuel Wildner (co-advised with Prof Oliver Deussen, Uni Konstanz Computer Science)

Manuel makes video games with fish, but the incentive structure kind of sucks. At least there are no micro-transactions.

Jacqueline Dettinger (BSc)


Paradoxically, Jacqueline is simultaneously our most junior and most senior member, being one of the first people to join the lab when we started in Konstanz. She puts fish in dark rooms and watches their every move with infra-red cameras. Creepy.

Ivo Neufert (BSc)


Ivo loves Shakira and was in the front row of her concert as a younger man. He plays with conditional mating strategies. Enough said.

Kai Schleifer (BSc)


What can I say. Times are tough and children are cheaper to employ than adults. Also Kai has a sweet blue/red eye dichromatism, which scares the hell out of other kids and may explain why he hangs around the spider lab so much.

Elina Rittelman (BSc)


Ever had a dream where fish had little swords and shields and went to war with each other? No? Well Elina has.

Tim Singer (BSc)


Tim was at a McDonalds late one night when some rough folks came through. Huddling close to his friends for protection he realised that risk can fundamentally alter social relationships.