The blog

Editorial - Novel Technological and Methodological Tools for the Understanding of Collective Behaviors

Elio Tuci, Vito Trianni, Andrew King, and Simon recently wrapped up a Research Topic (special edition) for Frontiers in Robotics and AI. This Research Topic brings together a collection of studies that focus on technological and methodological tools that can support the understanding of collective behaviors. The contributions included within the Research Topic can be broadly categorized as: (i) Review Articles, (ii) Tools and Technologies, and (iii) Empirical Studies. The editorial for this Research Topic can be found at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frobt.2019.00139/full The full list of articles published in this Research... Read more.

Date: December 10, 2019 | Categories: blog

Slime mold on Science Friday

Our very own slime mold (Physarum polycephalum) was the first organism featured on the new Science Friday segment “Charismatic Creature”. Simon was live with Elah Feder and Ira Flatow to discuss the weird intelligence of our favorite blob. You can find out more about this new Science Friday segment at https://www.sciencefriday.com/slimemold/ and listen to it below: Read more.

Date: December 6, 2019 | Categories: blog

SINNERS 2020 - Call for abstracts

Mark your calendar! The 10th Social Insects iN the North-East RegionS meeting, or #SINNERS2020, will be held on March 7-8 at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY. It is co-organized by the Barden lab, the Ware Lab and the SwarmLab. A call for abstracts is now open and will close of January 25, 2020. You can submit your abstracts here. More information about registration and getting there will follow soon. SINNERS is a more or less annual gathering of scientists working on social insects and located more or less in... Read more.

Date: December 4, 2019 | Categories: blog

Postdoctoral position available on DARPA-funded project

The SwarmLab at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is seeking a postdoctoral researcher with expertise in the modeling and analysis of collective behaviors and complex systems. The successful candidate will join a DARPA-funded research project aimed at testing and validating modeling methods for detecting the onset of migrations and predicting their final destinations using ant colonies as a model system. The position is starting as early as August 1st, 2019, and is expected to be filled no later than October 1, 2019. The position is initially for 2 years,... Read more.

Date: June 6, 2019 | Categories: blog

The SwarmLab at the World Science Festival

On June 1, Simon Garnier will take part in the following 3 events at the World Science Festival held in New York City. Cool Jobs - “Meet the coolest group of scientists with the most fascinating jobs on the planet. You’ll hear from an engineer who studies geckos to find an adhesive that can hold tons of material to the wall, a biologist who figured out why tiny brained ants travel efficiently while big-brained humans get stuck in traffic jams, and a concert-trained pianist who became a scientist to learn why some music makes you dance and... Read more.

Date: May 29, 2019 | Categories: blog

Feature in The New York Times

The SwarmLab was featured today in a New York Times article by Joshua Sokol discussing the science fiction myth that disabling the “queen” of a swarm will immediately lead its collapse (it doesn’t!). You can read it all in “Striking Down the Queen Won’t Save You From the Swarm”. Read more.

Date: May 14, 2019 | Categories: blog

New publication - "Contact Calls Facilitate Group Contraction in Free-ranging Goats (Capra aegagrus hircus)"

The SwarmLab is happy to announce the publication of: O’Bryan, L., Abaid, N., Nakayama, S., Dey, T., King, A., Cowlishaw, G., et al. (2019). Contact Calls Facilitate Group Contraction in Free-ranging Goats (Capra aegagrus hircus). Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7, 73. doi:10.3389/fevo.2019.00073 Abstract: Many social animal species produce vocalizations believed to facilitate group contraction when one or more group members have become distant. However, the mechanisms underlying this function remain unclear for many species. We examined this question with data on a semi-free ranging group of 16 adult domesticated goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) inhabiting Tsaobis Nature... Read more.

Date: March 19, 2019 | Categories: blog

New publication - "Information Transfer During Food Choice in the Slime Mold Physarum polycephalum"

The SwarmLab is happy to announce the publication of: Ray, S., Valentini, G., Shah, P., Haque, A., Reid, C., Weber, G., et al. (2019). Information Transfer During Food Choice in the Slime Mold Physarum polycephalum. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7, 67. doi:10.3389/fevo.2019.00067 This paper is a first publication for Subash, Purva and Abid. Many congratulations to them! Abstract: Throughout evolution, living systems have developed mechanisms to make adaptive decisions in the face of complex and changing environmental conditions. Most organisms make such decisions despite lacking a neural architecture. This is the case of the acellular slime... Read more.

Date: March 14, 2019 | Categories: blog

New publication - "Temporal and spatial pattern of trail clearing in the Australian meat ant, Iridomyrmex purpureus"

The SwarmLab is happy to announce the publication of: Middleton, E. J. T., Garnier, S., Latty, T., and Reid, C. R. (2019). Temporal and spatial pattern of trail clearing in the Australian meat ant, Iridomyrmex purpureus. Anim. Behav. 150, 97–111. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.02.006 Abstract: Many ant species use trails to connect important resources. In addition, some ants actively clear obstacles from their trails. Although trail clearing is thought to be beneficial in decreasing travel time, the physical process of clearing requires an investment of time and energy. Given that trail clearing is a decentralized process, how do colonies decide... Read more.

Date: March 9, 2019 | Categories: blog

Announcing the 4th Collaborative Workshop on Modeling Collective Behavior

The SwarmLab is pleased to announce the 4th Collaborative Workshop on Modeling Collective Behavior, funded by the NSF OAC Public Access Initiative grant #1838955. The goal of this workshop is to provide researchers coming from mathematics, physics, engineering and biology with experience in working collaboratively to model and analyze data produced by research in collective behavior. This year we are also including an interdisciplinary art/science project (see Project 4 below) that will use virtual reality to explore and interact with data and models of collective behaviors. All information about the workshop, including application instructions and deadline, can be found... Read more.

Date: March 1, 2019 | Categories: blog

Data-Driven Modeling of Collective Behavior and Emergent Phenomena in Biology (DDM-Bio) - June 5-7, 2017

The SwarmLab is happy to announce the workshop on “Data-Driven Modeling of Collective Behavior and Emergent Phenomena in Biology” (#DDMBio) to be held at SAMSI (Research Triangle Park, NC), June 5-7, 2017. Description Collective behavior and emergent phenomena often arise in complex adaptive systems. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie such processes is simultaneously challenging and important to developments in engineering, technology, and advancing basic knowledge in the science of biological systems. This collaborative workshop is targeted for researchers and students with research interests in collective behavior and emergent phenomena in biology and its applications. The... Read more.

Date: December 14, 2016 | Categories: blog

We're Hiring! Tenure track position in "Organismic Function, from Behavior to Ecology​"

As part of an ongoing expansion, the Department of Biological Sciences at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is looking to fill one or two new tenure-track faculty positions at the Assistant Professor level, beginning in 2017. We seek applicants with an interest and established record in bridging levels from systems or organismic function to behavior or ecology. Research areas can include - but are not limited to - ethology, microbiology, functional ecology, or evolution. Candidates will be expected to maintain an active, funded research program, supervise graduate students, and contribute to the overall success of the... Read more.

Date: October 5, 2016 | Categories: blog

We're Hiring! Tenure track position in "Cell Biology, Physiology, Systems or Organismic Function​"

As part of an ongoing expansion, the Department of Biological Sciences at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is looking to fill one or two new tenure-track faculty positions at the Assistant Professor level, beginning in 2017. We seek applicants with an interest and established record in bridging levels from cell biology or physiology, to systems or organismic function. Research areas can include - but are not limited to - neurobiology, ethology, evolution, or development. Candidates will be expected to maintain an active, funded research program, supervise graduate students, and contribute to the overall success of the... Read more.

Date: October 5, 2016 | Categories: blog

Decision-making without a brain - Our new paper in Interface

How do organisms without brains make decisions? Most of life is brainless and the vast majority of organisms on Earth lack neurons altogether. Plants, fungi and bacteria must all cope with the same problem as humans – to make the best choices in a complex and ever-changing world or risk dying – without the help of a simple nervous system in many cases. Our lab in collaboration with Richard Mann (University of Leeds), James Marshall (University of Sheffield) and Tanya Latty (University of Sydney) recently studied this problem in the unicellular slime mold, Read more.

Date: June 19, 2016 | Categories: blog

Lens of Time - Slime Lapse

Our work on slime mold was recently featured in a mini-documentary by Spine Films for bioGraphic, a new multimedia magazine produced by the California Academy of Sciences. Read more.

Date: June 12, 2016 | Categories: blog

David Hughes' lecture at NJIT

David Hughes from Penn State will be our guest Tuesday, March 29. His lab has a fascinating research program, exploring the relationship between disease and behavior. In particular, their work focuses on understanding how and why parasites manipulate their host behavior, and on the role behavior plays in disease transmission. During his visit, David will also deliver a lecture as part of the weekly colloquium series of the Federated Department of Biology at NJIT and Rutgers-Newark. See below for the details on David’s talk and a video introducing the theme of his lecture. Title: Zombie... Read more.

Date: March 28, 2016 | Categories: blog

videoplayR v0.3 is out!

The people who know me a bit are very much aware of the fact that I am an avid R user AND proselyte. I perform all my data processing and visualization in R; I write reports and presentations in R; I even write R packages just for the pleasure of doing it (for instance, I created the editR package essentially to see how easy it would be to build a complete web-application with R. Hint: it’s not as hard as I thought it would be). While R is serving me very well, it always had one big... Read more.

Date: September 10, 2015 | Categories: blogr

Richard Feynman had a thing for ants

Portrait of Richard Feynman - © The Nobel Foundation, 1965 Today is the day Lisa flies to Africa for a couple months of field work. Among other things she will outfit local goats with GPS collars coupled with small microphones, that she just spent a month and a half patiently building in Swansea, where the SHOAL group of our collaborator Andrew King resides. While in the train toward London Heathrow, she overheard a dad reading a story to his son, a... Read more.

Date: August 8, 2015 | Categories: blog

Postdoctoral position available

We are currently seeking a postdoctoral researcher to lead: the development and testing of spatially explicit models of criminal activities; the production of a forecasting software application to provide decision support for policing. This is a 1+1 year position (funding in the 2nd year will depend on progress in the 1st year) based out of Newark, New Jersey. This position is supported by a Rutgers-Newark Initiative for Multidisciplinary Research Teams (IMRT) award and is expected to be extended beyond the 2 year initial period through local and federal funding. The successful... Read more.

Date: July 1, 2015 | Categories: blog

A new website!

The Swarm Lab will be 3 year old tomorrow, July 1st, 2015. To celebrate the event, I decided to redo our website from scratch. It has now a new interface and, more importantly, a new backend. Goodbye Wordpress, and hello Jekyll!!! I have wanted to make this move for a long time now. Wordpress has served me very well for many years but I have grown increasingly frustrated with a number of things it does and things it cannot do. And while Jekyll might not be for... Read more.

Date: June 30, 2015 | Categories: blog

#SlimeLapseGallery - Episode 5

If you’ve ever watched a slime mold move, you have more patience (and spare time) than I do. If you prefer ‘real action’ over ‘real time’, then #SlimeLapseGallery is the place for you. Brought to you by the SwarmLab, see all the best timelapse videos of slime mold, from the web and from our lab. Episode 5: Slime mold in its natural habitat Today’s #SlimeLapseGallery video shows a slime mold - probably the ‘dog vomit’ slime mold, Fuligo septica - moving up a log from the forest floor over 5 hours. The pulsating behavior... Read more.

Date: May 2, 2015 | Categories: blogslimelapsegallery

#SlimeLapseGallery - Episode 4

If you’ve ever watched a slime mold move, you have more patience (and spare time) than I do. If you prefer ‘real action’ over ‘real time’, then #SlimeLapseGallery is the place for you. Brought to you by the SwarmLab, see all the best timelapse videos of slime mold, from the web and from our lab. Episode 4: The collective slug The SwarmLab’s slime mold of choice is the acellular (or plasmodial) slime mold Physarum polycephalum. The ‘acellular’ indicates that this slime mold is a single cell, and the macroscopic creature you see is not composed of... Read more.

Date: April 2, 2015 | Categories: blogslimelapsegallery

#SlimeLapseGallery - Episode 3

If you’ve ever watched a slime mold move, you have more patience (and spare time) than I do. If you prefer ‘real action’ over ‘real time’, then #SlimeLapseGallery is the place for you. Brought to you by the SwarmLab, see all the best timelapse videos of slime mold, from the web and from our lab. Episode 3: The inner life of the slime mold Today’s #SlimeLapseGallery features a recent compilation of Physarum timelapse microscopy that I hadn’t seen before, highlighting several features of slime mold behavior, as well as the beauty of the organism itself.... Read more.

Date: March 2, 2015 | Categories: blogslimelapsegallery

#AntsVsTheWorld - Episode 3

Who doesn’t like ants? And who doesn’t like a good action movie? #AntsVsTheWorld brings the best of both worlds together. by featuring videos of ants fighting other creatures (including other ants). Episode 3: Army Ants vs. Scorpion For today’s episode, I present you my all time favorite ant species: the army ant Eciton burchellii. These near-blind, nomadic ants offer some of the most spectacular examples of collective hunting. They live in large colonies (on average 700,000 ants), and during their moving phase they can organize large hunting raids which may contain more than 200,000 workers collecting... Read more.

Date: March 1, 2015 | Categories: blogantsvstheworld

#SlimeLapseGallery - Episode 2

If you’ve ever watched a slime mold move, you have more patience (and spare time) than I do. If you prefer ‘real action’ over ‘real time’, then #SlimeLapseGallery is the place for you. Brought to you by the SwarmLab, see all the best timelapse videos of slime mold, from the web and from our lab. Episode 2: Outsmarting engineers since 2010 Today’s #SlimeLapseGallery entry continues with another brilliant experiment from Toshi’s lab, this time the brainchild of Atsushi Tero, culminating in an excellent Science paper. A sheet of agar (acting as a moist substrate... Read more.

Date: February 2, 2015 | Categories: blogslimelapsegallery

#AntsVsTheWorld - Episode 2

Who doesn’t like ants? And who doesn’t like a good action movie? #AntsVsTheWorld brings the best of both worlds together. by featuring videos of ants fighting other creatures (including other ants). Episode 2: Matabele Ants vs. Termite Soldiers For this second episode, we present you a classic: the attack of a termite colony by an ant colony narrated by David Attenborough in the BBC series “Life In The Undergrowth - Supersocieties”. Here, the protagonists are the African mound-building termites (Macrotermes sp.) and the Matabele ants (Pachycondyla analis). The Matabele ants “are named after the... Read more.

Date: February 1, 2015 | Categories: blogantsvstheworld

#SlimeLapseGallery - Episode 1

If you’ve ever watched a slime mold move, you have more patience (and spare time) than I do. If you prefer ‘real action’ over ‘real time’, then #SlimeLapseGallery is the place for you. Brought to you by the SwarmLab, see all the best timelapse videos of slime mold, from the web and from our lab. Episode 1: A maze-ing slime mold To start with a classic, we can’t go past this video from Toshiyuki Nakagaki’s lab and ground-breaking Nature paper of 2000. In the setup, a labyrinth maze is installed on an agar substrate by... Read more.

Date: January 2, 2015 | Categories: blogslimelapsegallery

#AntsVsTheWorld - Episode 1

Who doesn’t like ants? And who doesn’t like a good action movie? #AntsVsTheWorld brings the best of both worlds together. by featuring videos of ants fighting other creatures (including other ants). Episode 1: Jumping Jack Ants vs. Huntsman Spider «««< HEAD For the first post in this series, we present you a colony of jumping jack ants (Myrmecia pilosula) attacking a green bellied huntsman spider (Micrommata virescens) easily 10 times the size of each individual ants. But size does not matter when you have friends to help you and a powerful, venomous sting. =======... Read more.

Date: January 1, 2015 | Categories: blogantsvstheworld

R vs Python - Round 3

Text by: Simon Garnier (www.theswarmlab.com / @sjmgarnier) R code by: Simon Garnier (www.theswarmlab.com / @sjmgarnier) Python code by: Randy Olson (www.randalolson.com / @randal_olson) Document generated with RStudio, knitr, and pandoc. Python figures generated with iPython Notebook. Foreword My friend Randy Olson and I got into the habit to argue about the relative qualities of our favorite languages for data analysis and visualization. I am an enthusiastic R user (www.r-project.org) while Randy is a fan of Python (www.python.org). One thing we agree on however is that... Read more.

Date: February 5, 2014 | Categories: blogrvspythonr

R vs Python - Round 2 (2/2)

Text by: Simon Garnier (www.theswarmlab.com / @sjmgarnier) R code by: Simon Garnier (www.theswarmlab.com / @sjmgarnier) Python code by: Randy Olson (www.randalolson.com / @randal_olson) Document generated with RStudio, knitr, and pandoc. Python figures generated with iPython Notebook. Foreword My friend Randy Olson and I got into the habit to argue about the relative qualities of our favorite languages for data analysis and visualization. I am an enthusiastic R user (www.r-project.org) while Randy is a fan of Python (www.python.org). One thing we agree on however is that... Read more.

Date: February 2, 2014 | Categories: blogrvspythonr

R vs Python - Round 2 (1/2)

Text by: Simon Garnier (www.theswarmlab.com / @sjmgarnier) R code by: Simon Garnier (www.theswarmlab.com / @sjmgarnier) Python code by: Randy Olson (www.randalolson.com / @randal_olson) Document generated with RStudio, knitr, and pandoc. Python figures generated with iPython Notebook. Foreword My friend Randy Olson and I got into the habit to argue about the relative qualities of our favorite languages for data analysis and visualization. I am an enthusiastic R user (www.r-project.org) while Randy is a fan of Python (www.python.org). One thing we agree on however is that... Read more.

Date: January 12, 2014 | Categories: blogrvspythonr

R vs Python - Round 1

Text by: Simon Garnier (www.theswarmlab.com / @sjmgarnier) R code by: Simon Garnier (www.theswarmlab.com / @sjmgarnier) Python code by: Randy Olson (www.randalolson.com / @randal_olson) Document generated with RStudio, knitr, and pandoc. Python figures generated with iPython Notebook. Foreword My friend Randy Olson and I got into the habit to argue about the relative qualities of our favorite languages for data analysis and visualization. I am an enthusiastic R user (www.r-project.org) while Randy is a fan of Python (www.python.org). One thing we agree on however is that... Read more.

Date: January 5, 2014 | Categories: blogrvspythonr