Collective Cognition Across Scales of Biological Organisation

Supervisor: Iain Couzin

The Department of Collective Behaviour is seeking a doctoral student to study theoretical and/or experimental aspects of collective cognition in animal groups.

We are particularly interested in research that spans levels of biological organisation, from neural dynamics to individual sensing and decision-making as well as how individual decisions are aggregated to make effective collective decisions. Across these scales we employ methods from statistical physics and complex systems research as well as animal behavior. Candidates with a strong interest in theoretical principles as well as those who wish to integrate theory and experiment are particularly encouraged to apply. 

We have a strong background in developing and employing sophisticated technologies to the study of behavior including immersive virtual reality, automated tracking and, more recently, we have the potential to work closely with experts in neural imaging as well as behavior. 


Further information related to the project can be found in the following publication: 

Sridhar, V.H., Li, L., Gorbonos, D., Nagy, M., Schell, B.R., Sorochkin, T., Gov, N.S. & Couzin, I.D. (2021) The geometry of decision-making in individuals and collectivesPNAS 118 (50), e2102157118.


The successful candidate will be part of a thriving interdisciplinary research environment in the co-located Max Planck Department of Collective Behavior and the German Research Foundation Cluster of Excellence ‘Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behavior’, housed in the new research building ‘Centre for Visual Computing of Collectives’ ‘VCC’.


The position is fully funded for four years starting October 2023 (TVöD salary scale 13, 65%). The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applicants from all backgrounds.

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