Friday, March 6, 2020 - 9:53am
By:
Alan Flurry

From the coordinated blinking of fireflies to the synchronized movement of flocks of birds or schools of fish and even the exploration pattern of roots in the soil, collective behavior characters all domains of biology – animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and viruses.

The University of Georgia Institute of Bioinformatics presents the State of the Art Symposium on Collective Behavior Friday, March 20, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Masters Hall of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.  Registration for the Collective Behavior Symposium, “Understanding Collective Behavior through Transdisciplinary Efforts,” is $25 for faculty and $10 for students.

“Collective behaviors occur on all scales of living systems, including movements of primate troops and bird flocks, the coordinated swarming of bacterial cells, and the circadian ticking of molecular clocks. Even viral attacks are carried out as collectives,” Jonathan Arnold, professor of genetics and organizer of the symposium. “Perhaps ironically, research on collective behaviors is not coordinated. Disparate scientific groups work on these phenomena in many disciplines.” 

“While the problems being pursued have exciting overlap, interaction between groups has been sparse. Phenomena of collective behavior are relevant to a wide range of scholarship from all around campus,” Arnold said.

Speakers for the day-long symposium include professors Deborah Gordon, professor biology at Stanford University; Helen McCreery, a James S. McDonnell postdoctoral fellow in Radhika Nagpal's Self-Organizing Systems Research Group at Harvard University; Heidi Kaplan, associate professor in the department of molecular biology and molecular genetics in the McGovern Medical School of the University of Texas at Houston; and Bill Bentley, Distinguished professor and Director of the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at University of Maryland.

The Collective Behavior Symposium is supported by a State-of-the-Art Conference Grant from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.

“The symposium is designed to promote this new interdisciplinary field, to share research from transdisciplinary collaborations, as well as different approaches and technologies, in a coordinated effort to transform investigations of collective behavior,” Arnold said.

Registration and more information is available at iob.uga.edu.

Image of a flock of starlings via Wikimedia commons.