Iain Couzin

Director, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior

2011

Iain Couzin is Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Department of Collective Behaviour and the Chair of Biodiversity and Collective Behaviour at the University of Konstanz, Germany and Previously he was a Full Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, and prior to that a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and a Junior Research Fellow in the Sciences at Balliol College, Oxford. His work aims to reveal the fundamental principles that underlie evolved collective behavior, and consequently his research includes the study of a wide range of biological systems, from insect swarms to fish schools and primate groups. Iain Couzin studies how animals coordinate behavior. He has discovered that locust plagues don’t occur because the insects are cooperating. Rather, it is a forced march: if they stop, they risk being cannibalized. Such insights help communities to track oncoming outbreaks while also challenging scientists’ theories of collective animal behavior.