Models, Mechanisms, and Bifurcations of Collective Animal Behavior

Naomi Leonard (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University)

(February 24, 2014 3:00 PM - 3:50 PM)

Models, Mechanisms, and Bifurcations of Collective Animal Behavior


From bird flocks to fish schools, animal groups exhibit a remarkable ability to manage a variety of challenging tasks that individuals could not manage on their own.  Despite limitations on individual-level sensing, computation, and actuation, and with no centralized instruction, animal groups make decisions quickly, accurately, robustly and adaptively in an uncertain and changing environment.  I will describe recent development of analytically tractable models and methods for studying the mechanisms of collective movement and decision-making dynamics in animal groups.  I will focus on the application of bifurcation analysis to systematically elucidate the dependence of the collective dynamics on parameters that model the networked multi-agent system and the environment.  


Naomi Ehrich Leonard is the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and an associated faculty member of the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton.  She is currently Director of Princeton's Council on Science and Technology and an affiliated faculty member of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Program on Quantitative and Computational Biology.  Her research and teaching are in control and dynamical systems with current interests in coordinated control for multi-agent systems, mobile sensor networks and ocean sampling, collective animal behavior, and human and animal decision dynamics.  In 2013 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2004, the Mohammed Dahleh Award in 2005, and an Inaugural Distinguished ECE Alumni Award from the University of Maryland in 2012.  She is a Fellow of the IEEE, ASME, SIAM, and IFAC.  She received the B.S.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton University in 1985 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1991 and 1994. From 1985 to 1989, she worked as an engineer in the electric power industry.